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'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 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 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 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 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.