Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting Your Groove Back on Track

Let's face it; stuff happens. It's part of life and it all works out in the end. But, from time to time, people expect things from you that you don't feel like delivering, at least not at that moment. And the fact that delivering the whatever (report, class, presentation, product, hair cut) is part of your job doesn't immediately help your energy level.

That's why Woody Allen said that 80% of life is simply showing up. It's the showing up when you don't really feel like it, that makes all the difference between people who live the life they define as successful, and those who don't.

This is a time when playing mind games with yourself helps -- just like you do to get yourself to the gym, when you don't feel like it.

Achieving big goals - losing weight, starting a business, writing a book -- all take place step by step. Most people quit when they lose their groove. They give up. They say they just can't do it.

Not you and me.

I got off track earlier today - several things that were supposed to happen, did not, in fact, take place. It wasn't any single thing, but the sum of a bunch of things gone wrong. You know that urge to strangle someone, but you don't want to commit homicide.

I know I have to look at the situation to see how to improve the whole system, but in the heat of a bad moment, fixing things was out of my control.

So I was feeling that grrrr feeling, wondering why I didn't just get a job at McDonald's and forget about it....... And then I went swimming.

I returned a happy camper.

I have internalized the reality that I am responsible for my own happiness. SO, when stuff hits the fan, even though I get mad/frustrated/annoyed/peeved and discouraged, I hear this small voice asking me, "How can you turn this around? How you can just feel a little bit better? Do something!"

You can go swimming, take a walk. You can call a friend to vent, write it all out in your journal, or bury yourself in a good book for 15 minutes.

It doesn't matter what you do, it's up to you to get your groove back. The sooner the better.
BTW, can you believe today is the last day of April????

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First Step In Being Persuasive

There are times you know you'd like to be more persuasive. When asking for a raise, for example, or asking for the business.

Being persuasive is not something you specifically do, so much as it is the way you are. You persuade people to the extent that you yourself are persuaded. Your clarity compels others to follow you.

To make your next presentation even more persuasive, invest some time thinking about your core message, the real value you're offering, and why you're even making that presentation in the first place.

It's taken me a long time to get this lesson, to understand that persuasion, the authentic kind, is a by-product of being real; it's not the special sauce you put on the enchilada. It is the enchilada.

The first step is to let go of needing to persuade.

If people don't get you; maybe they're not your people. Or maybe you're not clear yourself.

Being clear communicates confidence. Confidence persuades.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting More Personal Stuff Done

You know how work stuff tends to take over your life? Then you find you barely have time for fun, for goofing off, and taking it easy.

How many times does your boss ask you if you're getting enough personal/family time?

That's right; organizing yourself so that you have time for everything is your job, and no one else is going to do it for you. Your boss thinks you really like taking work home on the week-ends.

The answer?

Schedule the fun, the nurturing, and the spontaneous. Yep, if you're going to have spontaneous delight, you need to decide when, where, and how.

I promise it will work.

Some ideas:

- One stay-at-home-in-your-pj's day every month, or every two months. These days are great for recharging your batteries. Lounge, read, and eat chips.

- Combine this with one beauty day - get hair, nails, and whatever done, every 6 to 8 weeks.

- One set time each week to do all errands. The cruddy stuff that must be done, what one day your personal assistant will take care of.

- Batch medical appointments. Yours one day, the kids' on another.

- Write out some menu ideas each week. You don't have to follow your plan, but having something written down can save you from having to think when you're super busy and/or tired.

The point is, don't wait until you're on the brink, or past the brink of exhaustion to get proactive about your personal life. No one else is going to do that for you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

2 Ways to Drastically Improve Your E-mail Productivity

You probably have an automatic email responder to activate when you're out of town. You can certainly benefit from taking a more systemic, or systematic approach to a lot of your communication, especially email.

Here are a few concrete suggestions for leveraging your electronic communication.

1. Make sure you have a signature. On that signature, you may want to put a message like this, "Due to current workload, I only check email every 4 hours, if this is an emergency, please contact ...."

2. When you're communicating through email about a work project or customer concern, set it up (structure) early to avoid email drama. What I mean is spelling out the options, if you agree, we will do X, if you do not agree, I expect you to offer Z as an alternative.

These are two easy ways to really increase your leveraging electronic communication. Of course the most comfortable thing to do is to just check it all the time, and respond reactively, but that's not helping you live your life in a big way.

For example, I recently emailed someone about a current marketing project. I wrote that I expected X to happen on a specific date, and if that were not going to be the case, she should do Y. And furthermore, I would be visiting her office on Z date at Q time, and if that were not suitable, she was to send an alternative suggestion for meeting date and time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Taking Your Personal Wow Inventory

Have you noticed that this year is whizzing by? It seems like my son's birthday, which is appropriately on the first day of this month, was just 5 minutes ago. We are almost to the end of the fourth month of this year.

Are you getting any "wow" stuff taken care of? Things that delight you?

For me, reading a good book can be wow. Like The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Or The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron.

Sometimes it's, "Wow, I get to go to bed early tonight.Yippee!"

Or, last week, "Wow, we're in a real a big city. Hot diggety!"

There are two perspectives on taking your own personal wow inventory. One is that you've got to get your appreciator turned on, so you can actually experience delight.

The second thing is you usually have to plan, or schedule in, some wow experiences. They do happen on their own, but planning for them is often half the fun.

There are big wows - the trip to Paris, a small wow can be getting take-out dinner from your favorite restaurant.

Small wows are easier to do, and even more easy not to do. Thinking, I'm too busy/broke/tired/committed to have a pedicure this month. Six months later you still haven't gotten your toes done. Six decades later you wonder why you never got a pedicure, or got them so rarely.

Homework: Finish the following sentence 20 times.

It would be so cool/wonderful/interesting to ___________________.

This is a responsibility in your lap, I can almost promise you your boss doesn't give a flip about your personal wow inventory.
The photo is of one of Sally's wows, a long week-end trip to the NC coast.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Show Up as the Leader That You Are

So here we are. We live in a world where we have the leverage to make things happen, the desire to do work we believe in, and a marketplace that is begging us to be remarkable. And yet, in the middle of these changes, we still get stuck.

Stuck following archaic rules.

Stuck in industries that not only avoid change, but actively fight it.

Stuck in fear of what our boss will say, stuck because we’re afraid we’ll get in trouble.

Most of all, we’re stuck acting like managers or employees, instead of like the leaders we could become. We’re embracing a factory instead of a tribe. (Seth Godin Tribes 10)

Think about how you can show up as a leader in your own life as it is presently constructed. The best leaders lead from below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3 Huge Ways Clutter Clogs Communication

You may wonder, sometimes, or actually quite often, how a certain topic on this blog relates to its stated purpose -- promoting clear communication. The bottom line is, communication is connected to everything. Our communication reflects ourselves, via intended and unintended ways.

One clue to the way clutter affects us is the writing adage, Clear writing follows clear thinking. Clear thinking is seldom evident in the first draft.

1. Clutter distracts us. Finding that paper, seeing visual reminders of pending tasks, it keeps us not focused on the task at hand.

2. Clutter reflects procrastination. If we have clutter, it's because we haven't made decisions about where to put something, or whether to throw it out. Procrastination is another form of distraction; see number 1.

3. Clutter agitates. It's hard to be calm with lot's of stuff hanging around. It keeps us from hearing that quiet voice inside us, the one sometimes called our "intuition." We're not going below the surface of things amidst a bunch of junk on our desks.

Clutter is not actually just the stuff laying around, although that is a part of it. Clutter is always small, unimportant activities that have no real meaning for you. Maybe they're unavoidable, some of them. Maybe you can get rid of some by facing the fact that you took on a stupid so-called responsibility without really thinking about it.

I used to do this and get mad at the person who asked me to work a shift at a charity event, for example, when I was already overwhelmed. I would, for some mysterious reason, feel like if I didn't accept then it wouldn't get done (how's that for egotism!) and then resent having to do the thing.

When I started graduate school in 2003, on top of teaching and caring for my family, I realized I had to cut back on every single non-essential task, or I wasn't going to make it. I had a itchy mean red rash to inform me of this truth.

Guess what, everything survived without my participation. People get used to asking for your help because they know they can "count of you." The same fear of making firm decisions, or refusing to do a certain task, that can clutter your office or your home.

Clear communication of all forms follows clear thinking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Being Noncompliant: Just Say "No"

Just to get you thinking, try saying "no" to every single request today. Just for today. You can always offer an alternative, or just remind the person that you're already overwhelmed.

Sample dialogues:

Child: Mom, can we have hot dogs for dinner?

You: Not today, dear, maybe tomorrow.

Boss: Can you have this ready for me by this afternoon?

You: I'd love to but I'm already busy with the XX project, how about for Thursday afternoon?

Spouse or S/O: Honey, can you pick up the dry cleaning today? I need that jacket for tomorrow's trip.

You: I'd love to, dear, but I just can't make it by there today. I'm sure the other jacket will be fine.

Friend: Can you buy some tickets for spaghetti supper this week?

You: I'd love to but it's just not a good time. I'll be sure to donate next month, just remind me.

Colleague: Could you look at my presentation slides for me? Your feedback is always right on.

You: I'd love to, but today is not the day. Try me again later.

Teenage Child: Can you lend me $10? I'll pay you back next week!

You: Sorry, dear, but you still owe me from the last time.

It's that easy. Just takes practice. Have fun with it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Art of Noncompliance

You've noticed that when you live too much on autopilot, you tend to comply too frequently to things that really aren't important to you. Things that get you nowhere. I mean, saying "yes" to things to which you'd rather not.

It can be something small, like attending a meeting that you see as pointless. Or, it can be something substantial, like attending a meeting that you see as pointless. It's up to you to discern and stop doing unnecessary and unrewarding activities.

Ask if you can attend only a small part of the pointless meeting. Or see if you can get totally out of going, because of your "important" project.

The trick is to get your thinking clear first. That means not living in a constant rush where you never have time to question your routine and commitments.

Here are some ways I've been non compliant:

- I raised three kids without buying a diaper-changing table. Never saw the point to it. Same for bottle-warming equipment and most baby food. If you don't see the point, don't go there.

- I never attended a faculty meeting, even though it was recommended by several people as a way to help my career by being more visible. I'd rather have my teeth pulled.

- Haven't watched television in years. Don't keep up with the news, ever. I enjoy my selective ignorance. Most people don't even notice.

- I've had my kids in public school, private school, and home school, thus noncomplying with all three factions.

- I have only one credit card and use it only rarely.

- I don't use under-eye cream. Maybe it will show in a few years. ;-)

- Never worked in a cubicle and have no plans to do so.

- I don't have a Blackberry, but I am thinking about it.

And, for examples of extreme non-compliance, read The Four-Hour Workweek by T. Ferris. He checks email only ONE hour a week and suggests that the rest of us check it only twice a day, and not first thing in the morning.

What can you noncomply with today? Practice getting out of things. Have fun living on the wild side.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leadership Dolly Parton Style

You don't have to be blonde, or well-endowed, to integrate this leadership model. In fact, you probably already have.

If you're a country music fan, you most likely know that Parton wrote the "I'll Always Love You" recorded by Whitney Houston for the movie, The Bodyguard. While that song earned her enough money to buy Graceland, it's only one of at least 3,000 songs she's written.

She was the fourth child of twelve, growing up in a one-room house in rural Tennessee. Now she's 63, and is still married to man she met in a laundromat at age 18! (Long-term marriages are fascinating!)

Anyway, Dolly is Dolly, and she's got real insight in her definition of leadership:

If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.

They say country music lyrics reveal all secrets hidden in the human heart.

Whether as a parent, teachers, manager, supervisor, or just as you, you're already an excellent leader. Recognize your achievement. You deserve a raise!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting to Know Your Hidden Agendas

You may be thinking that hidden agendas are sinister, but they're not. They're perfectly harmless most of the time, but they can tell you a lot about yourself. And it has been said that self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.

The textbook, Communicating at Work, by Adler and Elmhorst, defines hidden agendas as personal goals that are not made public. It's not important that these personal goals be made public, what is important is that you don't hide them from yourself in your attempt to fit what you think are other people's expectations of yourself.

Sometimes in trying to shrink ourselves so that others feel more comfortable around us, we forget important details about our own personal preferences and desires.

Here are some examples of common hidden agendas:
- Wanting to build a closer personal relationship with someone on the committee, even a romantic relationship.

- Wanting to show people that you really are an expert in a certain area.

- Wanting just to be noticed.

- Wanting to unveil an uncomfortable truth about something, or somebody.

- Wanting to beef up your resume so you can get a better job elsewhere.

I know a blogwriter who has several hidden agendas at work: She wants to leverage her substantial investment in her formal education, but also to connect with her friends all over the world + express her ideas freely. She has the raw ambition to be a publisher and future coach to a select group of really cool women. Whew. Now that those agendas are out, I'm feeling much better now. ;-)

It could lead to a different career, a new hobby, or just a more contented you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

7 Signs You're Boring Your Audience

You know by now that the absolutely worst thing that a presenter can do to the audience is bore them. Better to forget what you were going to say, trip over your spiel, or stick your foot deep into your mouth, but don't bore them.

If you don't have a compelling message, send a memo.

Here are some ways you'll know if you're trespaasing into the dangerous land of audience boredom:

1. You notice everyone staring, as if transfixed, out the window. And then you realize there is no window in there.

2. Everyone is snickering while you're presenting information on an impending explosion of deadly illnesses.

3. You hear a low-level noise in the background, then you realize it's the sound of snoring.

4. You see people hiding their Blackberries behind their knees. And contorting themselves to text so that supposedly you don't notice.

5. Everyone starts doing the wave. It's a wave of yawning.

6. You see people taking notes while you're telling jokes. And then they start showing each other what they've written.

7. You finish your presentation, and nobody notices.

Take the time to be interesting to your audience. Otherwise, why are you there?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

21 Practices for Stress-Free Presentations

If you want to make presentations without excessive stress, you want to be a person who lives without stress being in control of your life.

What is stress, anyway? It's worry, anxiety, and insecurity all rolled up into one potentially life-threatening package. And, in case you haven't noticed, stress adds not one single dollar to your bank account, nor a quarter of an inch to your height. Stress repels, calm attracts.

What makes presenters like Oprah Winfrey, Seth Godin, and Christine Kane stand out from the rest? They present without stress, because they manage to live without letting stress drive their lives.

Presenting without stress is a product of a calm and authentic life. Directing your attention to being a stress-free presenter will help you experience peace in all areas of your life. It's all so interconnected.

Here are 21 practices to presenting, and living, stress-free:

1. Develop your awareness of everything that is already working so well in your life.

2. Take time to decide what your message really a single sentence.

3. Start and end your day with quiet time for prayer or meditation, or simply sitting there. Envision yourself connecting with your audience.

4. Learn to say "no" more often. You know you cannot be all things to all people so decide who you want to be.

5. Never take on a new responsibility without letting go of an old one.

6. Incorporate daily laughter. Share your funnies with your audience.

7. Let go of your expectations for others. Don't think about pressuring your audience to accept your argument. Think of it as sharing what works for you.

8. Walk half an hour, every day. Light exercise before a presentation really gets your energy flowing well.

9. Eat more veggies and fruit, less bread and pasta, especially before a big talk.

10. Go to bed early at least once a week.

11. Turn off the television and radio.

12. Drink more water. Bring a bottle of water with you to your presentation, unless you've already made arrangements for someone else to have water for you.

13. Put fewer items on your daily agenda. Put fewer items in your talk. Make fewer points, but take the time to really explain those points.

14. Avoid negative people.

15. Turn off your cell phone before you enter the venue where you're going to present.

16. The night before, light a candle in your room.

17. Look for beauty around you, before, during, and after your presentation.

18. Forget trying to please everybody.

19. Remember your own personal preferences; incorporate your preferences into your presentation to really make it yours.

20. If it's not a definite "yes," it's a "no."

21. Breathe deeply, often.

Let your wisdom override your stress, one day at a time.

Or, as my friend, Andrea, suggests, you can always take a zanax and be done with it. :-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Secret Ingredient in Presentation Wow

If you're like most people, when you know you're going to give a presentation, you want to know how long you'll be expected to talk in front of your audience.

Once you have that piece of information, you start planning to "fill the allotted time slot." You look for statistics, stories, and stuff to back up your message.

That's the sure path to T M I, or "too much information."

Great presenters approach the whole project differently. They spend as much time thinking about how to get their audience to even care about their topic, as they do preparing their message.

If no one cares, it doesn't matter what you say.

If people care about what you're saying, the mistakes you make don't matter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

You're Always Presenting Yourself

I don’t care how many degrees you have on the wall, if you don’t know how to sell, you’re probably going to starve.
—George Forman

I guess George Forman didn't get a PhD in Communication. It's probably true that he didn't start his professional boxing career thinking, "Well, if I lose this fight, I can always sell kitchen-top grills."

One reason a lot of people pursue advanced degrees is precisely because they don't want to go out and "sell." The reality is, even tenure-track professors have to sell themselves, to a selective group of people known as their tenure committee. They also have to sell their scholarly articles to the editors of the journals valued in their discipline. There is no escape from selling/marketing/presenting.

Even the imprisoned sell through their efforts to get early release, or improved living conditions.

Coming from the communication perspective, I see that we're always presenting ourselves. Forman, and others, see it as always selling yourself. Seth Godin sees it as always marketing yourself.

This is how Chellie Campbell put it in The Wealthy Spirit:

Everyone is in sales. When you convince your significant other to go with you to the movie you want to see, that’s a sale. When you convince your child to stay in school, that’s a sale. When you convince a friend to stop drinking, that’s a sale.

Each of us presents ourselves, our ideas and our projects constantly. We're persuading people to eat their broccoli, contribute money to a charity, give blood, do their homework, hire us, promote us, come to our dinner party, read our blog posts, or even improve local schools.

Only you can decide whether you're ready to take advantage of all the opportunities you encounter each day to present yourself, your ideas, and enjoy an authentic connection with others.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Communcating What You Want

People who've always been dependent on others for some kind of charity or goodwill often have a hard time saying what they really want because usually no one asks them. And if they are asked, the poor often think no one really wants to hear the truth.
--Jaqueline Novogratz in The Blue Sweater

Seth Godin sent me a copy of The Blue Sweater, which has the subtitle, Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. It's about how she is building a new paradigm of aid to poor countries, one in which the recipeints of aid, mostly impoverished women, are expected to pay back the small loans they apply for.

Novogratz shows how in many cases international aid leaves its recipients worse off then before. It's not that we shouldn't help each other, but help is not a matter of throwing some money at a charity and feeling all superior about it.

However, Novogratz' observation about how her poor clients have a hard time articulating what they really want; it's almost as if they never dared to contemplate their inner desires.

Many of us in the wealthier part of the world have the same problem. Not because no one has ever asked us what we want, but because we want so badly to do the right thing, to please others, so that they, in turn, will do our will, and take care of us.

My grandmother tried to teach me a lesson like this a long time ago. She had asked me what I wanted for lunch, and I replied that it didn't matter. She let me know that it did matter, that she was asking me because she wanted to know, and that it was not helping anyone to pretend that I didn't care. I should care.

In our communication, especially a formal presentation, the first step is to be absolutely crystal clear about what it is we want. Not what we're supposed to want.

Thinking like this takes practice. The next time someone asks you what you want for lunch, say something. You can even practice, thinking ahead about how you would answer.

And if you think that you really don't care, you're probably denying part of yourself. If that's the case, you can start writing a list of things you like, and another list of things you don't like.

And in honor of today's Christian holiday, let me suggest that Jesus didn't spend his life trying to please the right people. I don't think he was remembered as such a "nice" person.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Work of Art or a Piece of Work?

Last week-end I met the poster-child for the Feminine Entrepreneurial Model of Business. She's a brilliant software engineer who loves quilting. No longer a quilter on the side, she has become the owner of a web-based art boutique that sells high-end textile art. Incredibly cool.

Or, there was also the family therapist who's also a musician, who now has a thriving coaching practice. Or the nurse who's establishing a national organization for her specialty in the medical world. Or the banker who decided to move to a part of the country where she felt she could experience authentic community more fully.

It was an incredible eye-opening experience.

It's a total refusal to accept the inevitability of the compartmentalization process we often go through to fit in, to get the job, or get accepted by some group or institution that doesn't really take the time to get to know us. As one friend put it, she looks good on paper, but she doesn't want to accept life in the cookie-cutter career, or any predestined life in a cubicle.

To communicate well, you need to know who you are, even those parts of you that don't fit your current job description. Trying to shrink yourself to fit in everyone else's expectations of you doesn't work for long; eventually you pop out of the mold, or overflow, or part of you breaks down.

You probably realize that many people in this dilemma, true to self or to the organization, avoid even thinking about it by keeping themselves VERY busy.

The next time you prepare a presentation for a group, think about sharing a part of you that people don't know exists. You can probably think of a way to relate that to your business message, and make that message more effective and attractive in the process.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Power of the Mastermind: Is it for You?

This is to let you know what a mastermind group is like. Christine is right when she says it's not about feeling comfortable the whole time.

by Christine Kane

"Without doubt, the most common weakness of all human beings is the habit of leaving their minds open to the negative influence of other people."
- Napoleon Hill

Mastermind groups have been around for centuries. Many people attribute the popularity of the mastermind to Napoleon Hill's classic book Think and Grow Rich. Hill studied the richest men of the early 1900's, and wrote the book as part of his research. One of the common practices of those wealthy men was that they all took part in a mastermind, helping each other solve problems and move forward in their goals.

These days, women, creatives, and right-brain entrepreneur types are designing new models of the mastermind - and the results are even more powerful and holistic than the masterminds of the early 20th century. As someone who is self-employed, an artist, an entrepreneur, and often alone - I'm a huge fan of this model (in addition to coaching) because it connects me with like-minded people. Otherwise, it's just too easy to get isolated and stuck. And grouchy! :-)

But what exactly is a mastermind? And how do you know if it's for you? Below are six elements of a mastermind group. This will give you an idea of how they work and whether or not you'd like to form a mastermind, or join one.

1 - A Mastermind moves you forward. Support groups are wonderful because they can help heal a trauma or addiction. A mastermind group, however, is not a support group. A mastermind is about moving you forward and helping you achieve a dream or a goal. Even if the goal is simply "an authentic happy life," the mastermind group is about forward motion, not healing the past. This is why many people who try to form casual masterminds wind up disappointed. To sustain forward movement, all members have to hold that level of energy, and set an intention to keep that momentum! This is not always an easy task!

2 - A Mastermind Group is about positive mindsets. Whining is not an option! In a Mastermind, each person gets an allotted amount of time to present her vision to the group. The person presents her current goals, dreams, and, of course, challenges. She might shed some tears, as this is a natural expression of energy release. But there is little room for whining or staying stuck. Some mastermind groups allow for a five-minute whining period. But then the focus moves back into getting unstuck. Mindsets are a huge part of the mastermind.

3 - A Mastermind Group won't make you comfortable. When you join a Mastermind group, you know it's not going to be about hanging out in your comfort zone. In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons people want to take part in a Mastermind! They know that success rarely comes from inside their comfort zones. Masterminds are effective because they require you to expand beyond your old limits.

4 - A Mastermind Group holds you accountable. My Platinum Coaching and Mastermind Group will meet in person three times this year. After our first meeting last week, it became clear that not one of these women will show up for the next meeting without having accomplished the next steps of her dreams and goals. That's because group energy is powerful. The group is a "team." Team spirit is contagious. And there's wisdom in accountability!

5 - A Mastermind generates ideas and resources. When a circle of people gives their full attention to one person and her dreams, all kinds of ideas are generated. Resources and connections are often discovered in the process. This is a huge benefit to taking part in any group.

6 - There is a mystical quality to the Mastermind. If I neglected to mention the mystical, I would be hiding a major element of the Mastermind. Napoleon Hill put it this way: "No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind."

In other words, the intention of the group creates a higher intelligence that is guiding the group and moving it forward. I don't discuss this much, but I have felt it in my Platinum group, as well as in the group led by my coach. The awareness of this "third" mind helps me trust that even when things get uncomfortable or scary for me or one of the participants - there is something bigger happening.

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at

WANT TO SEE HUNDREDS MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at

Communication from the Inside Out

Before continuing to post about the Feminine Entrepreneurial Model of Business, it's good to take a moment to see how this paradigm shift affects communication in general, and presentation skills in particular.

The difference is an emphasis on preparing your mind and heart, rather than focusing on techniquie and closing (which are important, but secondary.) The bottom line is, your effective presentation starts with your mindset. And it's not one of (the Brain) trying to figure out how to get your audience (Pinky) to do your will.

(If you haven't seen Pinky and the Brain, go order some episodes.)

When you're clear about who you are, and what you want to say, or share, with your audience, you will be effective.

When you can get yourself in front of a group of people, and take advantage of that present moment you have to share your message, you won't feel anxiety.

When you remember that your people will support you, and those who are not your people, are not your concern, you can relax.

When you acknowledge that you can handle ANYTHING, that you've always handled everything that appeared in your life, you exude a contagious confidence.

There's a magic that happens when a speaker/teacher/presenter can forget about herself, get into her story, and connect at a deep level with her audience. That's communication from the inside out.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Feminine Entrepreneurial Model Competes Differently...And You Get to Have Fun

Yesterday I introduced the new Feminine Entrepreneurial Model of Business. You could also call it a better way of living; you don't actually have to start a business, or own one, to participate.

The paradigm of competition of the FEMB differs from the traditional, Taylor-imbued way of doing business. Not that Mr. Division-of-Labor Taylor was wrong, his innovation helped bring us to where we are and the incredible productivity we all enjoy. But now we get to be productive, and experience work-life at a more fulfilling level.

Old Model says Compete for Customers Based on Value.

Make it better, make it cheaper, make it do more things faster. That is what the traditional model instructs. And it's certainly necessary to offer value, but it's more rewarding to do it from a deeper level of being who you really are.

New Feminine Model says Attract Customers through Trust and Authenticity.

Mixonian has written on relationship-based marketing before; that's one perspective of the new model. The way the economy is developing, trust has become indispensable for winning clients. A client who trusts you will work with you, and even pay more than the supposed "best value" in town.

Trust is built upon authenticity; people can sense what you're really about, even without seeing you. Pretending to be interested in something that you're not, will come to the surface in one way or another.

In both of her books, Chellie Campbell relates how she lost her best client because the client picked up on the fact that she had lost interest in her bookkeeping business. It's not that she told him anything, or stopped showing up at work; he simply knew. Now she runs a different business.

At my mastermind coaching week-end, this truth made me extremely uncomfortable. Pretending to want to be a tenure-track professor fools no one, and leads no where. Either you learn a new perspective on your job so that you perceive value in it, appreciate it, apart from the pay, or you change employers.

Do you see how this affects everyone, not just business owners?

Even if you work in a real company and get a real deposit in your bank every 2 weeks, you really are in business for yourself. Your employer is your client, even if you work in education or the not-for-profit world.

While showing up for work is required to stay employed, it's far from sufficient. And working yourself to a thread, i.e. burn-out, isn't sustainable either.

According to the old molel, employees get paid solely based on their production, or the appearance of production -- looking busy even when you're not.

In the new model, seeing your job as a way to express yourself, connect with others in a meaningful way and add value from a standpoint of being yourself, is the ultimate job security.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Feminine Entrepreneurial Business Model

You could call it the "Metamorphosis Model," or the "Synthetic Model," but there is most definitely a new way of doing business. This new, feminine model allows people to work in a more fulfilling and flexible way than what the traditional model allowed. It's the result of women getting into business for themselves on a huge scale, and in a new highly profitable way.

Of course women have always been in business, making money is what's new-ish about it. If you consider all the things women have had to do to keep a family operational throughout the centuries, you realize that women have always done a lot of different things seemingly at the same time. We're just like that.

This new model challenges everything Frederick Taylor, the Father of Scientific Management, taught us. We see the fruit of Taylor's influence everywhere - it's the automatization, finding the best way to do a thing and then doing it that way over and over, chopping up tasks into several pieces, and in general, you could see it as at dehumanization in the workplace. The feminine model of entrepreneurship leaves Mr. Taylor in the dust.

Consider the differences between the old model and the feminine model about the division of labor:

Old Model Division of Labor

Divide up a job so that 5 people do the same, small repetitive task for 8 hours a day. Get a supervisor to make sure these workers don't go out and get all creative on you, changing the "best" way to do the task.

Feminine Model Division of Labor

Ruthlessly delegate what you don't like to do. Find a personal assistant who will cheerfully file, answer the phone, walk your dog, and take your clothes to the cleaners. She's happy to do this because she gets to work in a fun and relaxed environment and has a lot of control over the hours she works.

The boss does stuff she likes to do, like writing marketing materials, thinking up new informational products, and keeping in touch with customers.

The feminine model is a humane way of doing business that gives everyone the chance to contribute at a different level. It's not a sewing circle in that people are just sitting around, chatting, and doing their sewing and not going anywhere.

It's working with traditional tools like goals, strategic planning, production and marketing, in a way that synthesizes individual strengths. One of the supporting concepts for this model is that people who love their jobs, do them better.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Growing Pains in Today's Economy

You probably remember those strange old pains in your legs and arms...your parents told you they were "growing pains." Sure enough, soon afterwards, you needed new clothes.

Businesses and all organic organizations also experience "growth pain" -- but it shows up differently. It's still painful.

Organizational growth pains often manifest in a systems breakdown. It could be the computer system, the parking system, the production, whatever, things simply cease to function well because the system is under too much stress.

In case you're wondering what growth pains have to do with a communication and personal development blog, it's a great excuse, and actually the real reason, for having disappeared for a few days.

Growing pains of this tiny-but-mighty enterprise led to several systemic breakdowns last week, which temporarily halted the production of blog posts that enlighten, engage, and entertain, as well as any other sort of blog post.

As dear former President Clinton would say, "Mistakes were made." Management is taking steps to upgrade some of the operating systems to keep this from happening in the future.

As Mixonian always looks on the bright side, consider this: if you haven't had any growth pains lately, maybe you need to look for a new way to grow.