• Your Power Tools of Presenting

    Maybe you are an entrepreneur crafting your pitch, a leader inspiring a team to manifest your vision, or a changemaker encouraging people to take action. You may think that to be persuasive, you need plenty of data to support your ideas, and a slick slide deck with all the bells and whistles. Think again.

    In 2015, I had the honor of coaching the seven speakers at Corning Incorporated’s UP2 Women’s Conference. Those talks were videotaped and can be viewed by Corning employees at this link. I also gave a talk at the conference, and it is viewable by the public:

    What I think you will see, in whichever videos you can access, is that it is actually your voice, your body, and your story that are the power tools of presenting.

    Let me share with you the reasons that's true with another example.

    In April 2016, I facilitated an all-day workshop for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier designed to help their whole staff craft memorable elevator speeches capturing the essence of the Food Bank’s mission. After learning how to access the power of their voices, bodies, and stories, several employees were nominated by their peers to share their elevator speeches with the rest of us.

    I remember one guy telling about a little boy willing to wait in line with only a thin coat to protect him from the freezing temperatures at a mobile food pantry site, because he wanted a birthday cake, not for himself, but for his dad.

    I remember another employee describing an older gentleman in a suit who stopped at the Food Bank administrative building because he had lost his job and couldn’t afford to buy food. The employee told the gentleman where the nearest pantry was, and as she watched him walk back to his car, his shoulders shook with silent sobs.

    I remember hearing about an employee’s first bone-jarring ride in a delivery truck with old springs, and how the employee’s discomfort didn’t seem as important on the way home after seeing how much the people at the food pantry appreciated the help.

    Why do I remember these stories seven months later? Because stories are remembered up to 22 times more often than facts alone. Stories are the way we relate to one another. They activate our limbic/emotional systems, not just our cognitive/intellectual systems…and when we FEEL, we remember better.

    By creating pictures in our minds, stories are easier to recall than facts and figures. Plus, these Food Bank elevator speeches revealed what was important to the speakers, and reminded me of what’s important to me—human dignity, generosity, the power to overcome adversity, light in the dark.

    None of the people telling stories that day were marketing people. None of them were professional speakers. None of them were poets or authors or actors. None of them had fancy slides or high tech tools. But by the end of that workshop, they were incredibly effective persuaders.

    That’s because in addition to telling stories, they had learned to focus on details, drawing audiences in via all five senses. They used their whole bodies—gestures, facial expressions, movement—so that they engaged the mirror neurons of their listeners, driving their elevator speech deep into the listeners’ nervous systems. They learned to use dialogue, questions, and metaphors to make their talks compelling and memorable. And most importantly, they were genuine, and told stories that were important to them.

    Intrigued? Ready to amp up your next presentation with the power tools of presenting—your voice, body and story? Read about my speaker coaching process, or just contact me and we can get started!

  • To be, or to do. That was the question.

    Through my 20s and 30s and into my 40s, I was an entrepreneur, mother, performance artist, social activist and health nut. My days were full of doing. Pedal to the metal, multi-tasked to the max, hyper-productive, and compulsively self-reliant. In fact, like many of the clients I see these days, the idea of "just being" gave me the heebie-jeebies. I am what I do, right? If I'm not getting something done, don't I cease to matter? To whit, here's a poem I wrote back in 1998 inspired by a line from Pablo Neruda:

    To use the FEBI parlance, that poem was written by an out-of-balance Driver-Organizer--characterized by over-efforting and over-controlling, going it alone, bashing your head against obstacles until something is pulverized (your head or the obstacle), and never ever feeling like you have enough time to "get it all done." What I needed was the expansive trust of the Visionary and the resilient give and take of the Collaborator.

    The first thing I had to do was admit I was addicted to Driver energy. Driver energy should be pulsed: step on the gas, then step away from the car. But I was constantly in full throttle, always-on, not now, but right now mode. The trouble is, your body can become addicted to that adrenalin. It ramps up your heart rate and respiration, sending extra oxygen, energy and endorphins coursing through your bloodstream, and that feels good. So you just keep giving yourself that shot, and then throw in lots of coffee when your body can't get you there on its own.

    But I knew I had hit the wall when the insomnia and fatigue, sugar and fat cravings, lower back spasms, and caffeine addiction finally led to a feeling of depletion and ennui. I knew something had to give.

    Somewhere deep inside me, I remembered "painting" on the sidewalk with water, climbing trees to read my favorite books, sitting on countless beaches looking out at the endless sea. I remembered singing made-up songs to my dog, riding my bike on winding Connecticut roads with no destination. In other words, I remembered having ample access to the Visionary energy pattern.

    I just needed to rehabilitate that part of myself. So I decided to create my own Church of Universal Possibility. That tongue-in-cheek idea meant I'd carve out an hour or two a week to go to my studio by myself and "be." I didn't have to produce something, burn calories, self-improve or solve a problem. The point was to have no point, no expectations. I would simply show up and see what happened. As a closing ritual each time, I recorded something in a special "CUP" journal.

    The first pages of the journal are tight didactic recountings of what I did--you can feel the shadow of guilt and the residual need to have something to show for myself.

    But as the months and years went by, my CUP began to runneth over.

    Eventually, I learned to just be present to the unfolding moment...to listen for the deeper meaning and purpose at the center of my life...to invite connection to something infinite, beyond time and space.

    Now, "being" is at the center of my "doing." When I'm with a client, listening deeply, being fearlessly present to whatever surfaces, and allowing the past and future to fall away so that this moment can be transformative...that's the Church of Universal Possibility at work in the world. That's Visionary energy made manifest.

    Oh, but what about Collaborator?

    The first time I took the FEBI, my Collaborator score was significantly lower than any of the other patterns. Unlike with my access to Visionary, it wasn't a matter of getting something back, it was a matter of starting from scratch. I desperately needed to learn to take the easy way out, to become the other person and go from there, to ask "what wants to happen?" instead of trying to force what I thought "needed to happen." Most of all, my compulsive self-reliance had to give way to appropriate alliances.

    Fortunately/unfortunately, I only had to look at how my over-reliance on Driver-Organizer energy had effected my significant relationships to find plenty of motivation to change. To protect the innocent, I won't give too many details. But suffice to say, over-driving means you drive over people--you get labeled intimidating, overbearing, insensitive--and if you are a woman...The Bitch. Over-organizing means you turn rigid and rule-based, and eventually The Resentful Martyr shows up. That's a whole lotta ugly.

     With plenty of motivation to change, I began by just peppering my language with new Collaborator-centric phrases:

    • No babies will die if I don't get this done.
    • What if I took the easy way out?
    • What wants to happen?
    • Stop resisting what is.
    • Become the other person and go from there.
    • Lighten up.
    • Sure, I could use some help.

    Pretty soon, the language began to change my thinking, and my thinking began to change my behavior, and the behavior began to change my relationships--all in a positive reinforcement loop. I retook the FEBI in 2014, and my Collaborator score had climbed from Low to High! I almost cried when I saw that chart.

    Now I access Collaborator energy daily. I play with problems to find solutions. I bounce back when I hit an obstacle, and find another way to flow around it. I attune to others and begin moving in their direction before trying to steer them to another path. I take the easy way out, and proudly. I celebrate, take naps, and belly laugh regularly.

    Like any recovering addict, over-reliance on Driver-Organizer energy calls like a drug whenever things get stressful. But now I know it's just a siren call that will end with me dashed on the rocks, so I take a deep breath, and set my sails in the direction of balance and well-being and true productivity.

    Need help overcoming your own Driver-Organizer addiction? Let's be in touch.


  • I Have a Dream

    A coaching client sent me Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, in which he posits that people don’t care WHAT you do, or HOW you do it, but rather WHY you do it. He points out that Martin Luther King Jr didn’t say, “I have a plan!” He said, “I have a dream!”

    It took vulnerability and courage to share such an outlandish vision of a non-racist world. And that outlandish dream inspired multitudes to change their beliefs, their thinking and their behaviors.

    I decided to write my own “I have a dream” speech. I hope it inspires you to write yours.

    I have a dream that one day everyone everywhere will live from a place of conscious choice, free of the tyranny of old unconscious patterns.

    I have a dream that one day people will see a thousand-thousand ways to go in every unfolding moment.

    I have a dream that one day people will measure success by whether they are creating a profoundly satisfying life aligned with their deepest truth and well-being.

    I have a dream that one day people will create schools and workplaces not centered on control, constriction, and competition, but rather on humanity’s inherent creative, generous, and collaborative nature.

    I have a dream that one day people will learn that change doesn’t have to be hard, or take a long time. I dream that we will find transformation exhilarating, and available in every moment.

    I have a dream that one day we will see ourselves as inextricably connected to each other and all that is. I dream our shared paradigm will help us see that every choice is significant and has an effect on the world.

    I have a dream that together we will create a world that works for everyone.

    That’s my dream, and to manifest it, I partner with emotionally intelligent leaders who care deeply about the well-being of their people, and who will invest in creating high-performing, super-engaged, inspired and self-actualizing individual employees and teams. These leaders are inspirational and respected by their employees. They are results-oriented and have the resources and power to do what it takes to achieve their goals.

    Together, we are changing the world—one person, one team, one workplace at a time.

  • Develop a Super Power in 21 Days

    Want to leap tall buildings, see through walls, or stop speeding bullets with your bare hands? Sorry, I can’t help.

    But what if you could resolve a sticky issue at work, change a persistent unhealthy habit, or stop having the same old fight with your loved one? Well, you can develop any of those Super Powers in 21 days…for free, in about ten minutes a day, no tights or cape required.

    Step One
    Identify the problem. Whine about it a little. Bitch, moan, complain—the works. Feel like a powerless victim. State the problem as a complaint.

    Step Two
    Use your X-ray vision to see through the complaint to the core belief that’s underneath it. Remember, these core beliefs are often irrational. You can KNOW they aren’t true, but still FEEL like they might be. Or sometimes, they will feel so real that you lose sight of the fact that they are BELIEFS. At that point, the core belief just feels like “The Way It Is.”

    Step Three
    Realize that your core belief probably took shape at a very early age; that it served you then, but that it’s getting in the way now. It’s causing a problem at work, an unhealthy habit, or a broken-record argument at home. Decide it’s time to change it.

    Step Four
    No, really. You can’t just nod along through Step Three. You really do have to decide it’s time to change. Are you ready? You don’t need a cape. But you do need a commitment.

    Step Five
    Okay, take your old core belief and flip it around to a new core belief that is short, positive, and in the present tense. It has to be a statement you actually know is logically/rationally true.

    Core Belief Chart 

    Core Belief Do and Don't

    Step Six
    Practice belly breathing. Lie on your back. Put one hand on your chest, and one hand over your belly button. Exhale completely until your belly is concave. Now, take a slow, deep breath…as you inhale, imagine you are inflating a basketball under your belly button. The hand on your belly will rise. The hand on your chest should not move, except for a tiny amount at the end of the inhale. Now exhale, and let all the air out of the basketball. Your belly will deflate, the hand on your belly will fall. Inhale smoothly over the course of six seconds. Exhale effortlessly over the course of six seconds. Six seconds in, six seconds out. Do this for at least a full minute, or until you feel deeply relaxed, whichever comes first. (Download a lovely five-minute recording that dings every six seconds from the mBraining people.)

    Step Seven
    Drop your hands to your sides while you continue belly breathing. Now, with each breath, say your new core belief inside yourself. Use your ten fingers to keep track for ten breaths. Do that before you get out of bed in the morning, as you are falling asleep at night, and at least one other time during the day…for 21 days. By the end of those three weeks, you will have the power to solve your sticky issue, change your bad habit, or create more harmony at home.

    Why It Works
    Your old core belief is almost always tied to the fear response, which includes shallow/chest breathing, or holding your breath. By thinking your old core belief over and over, you have created a strong neural pathway, and it’s tied it to your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). So any little fear that triggers that core belief, will slide lickety-split along that well-worn neural pathway, boosted by your fight or flight response.

    By repeating your new core belief while belly breathing, you are creating a new neural pathway tied to your parasympathetic nervous system (tend and befriend). If you do this for 21 days, the new neural pathway will be like a Super Power you can use the next time you are confronted with the sticky issue at work, the temptation to repeat your unhealthy habit, or the slippery slope of the same old fight with your loved one.

    When confronted with those old problems, you simply belly breathe, remind yourself of what’s really true (the new core belief), and suddenly you will be leaping the tall building that WAS your old core belief. Over time, the old neural pathway associated with the old core belief will weaken and eventually dissolve entirely.

    Need Assistance?
    Every Batman needs an Alfred—the person back in the Bat Cave tinkering with the Bat Mobile while our hero is out saving the world. Contact me if you need some help identifying the problem, seeing the old core belief, or coming up with the new one. It will be the most life-transforming thing you’ll ever learn.

    More Possibility Applied.

  • What Your Dog Knows About Stress

    How many times have you had a stressful experience, and the first thing you do is go down the hall to a co-worker or get on the phone to your spouse, and tell them all about it. You describe it in minute “he-said-then-I-said” detail. You think by venting in this way, you get it out of your system.

    Unfortunately, what you are doing is re-experiencing it. And because your body reacts to imagined or visualized threats in exactly the same way as it does to real ones, you’ve just given yourself twice the dose of spiking blood pressure, increased heart rate, and cascading stress hormones. Oops.

    But it gets worse. Mirror neurons firing in your listener’s body make it seem like your anxiety, anger and angst are their own. So you’ve just infected them with your stress virus, effectively transferring your spiking blood pressure, increased heart rate, and cascading stress hormones to them. Ugh.

    What’s a stressed out person to do? Learn from your dog.

    The first thing your dog does after being in a state of upset is to literally “shake it off.” This discharges the stress response state and resets his nervous system. You can do the same. Starting with your head, and moving thru your shoulders, torso, hips, and down your arms and legs to your hands and feet—rapidly shake through your body. Kind of like when you get a cold chill, only more sustained and intentional.


    Your dog is also likely to stretch and yawn. Give it a try. Add a big inhale with an audible sigh on a long exhale. Then end with a minute of belly breathing. By the end of all that, your fight/flight/freeze reaction should have switched to the parasympathetic nervous system tend/befriend state.

    And who doesn’t like an ear rub? Called “auriculotherapy” for humans, massaging the outer ear releases endorphins, enhances relaxation, and improves attention and focus. Easy to do at your desk!

    Lastly, your dog will go empty his water dish. Making sure you are hydrated will help to reduce the long-term effects of stress.  And when you get home, take your dog for a brisk walk. You’ll both feel better!

    Of course, there are those times in our lives when we need to address the stress at its root because it has become chronic. That's when a good coach well-versed in conflict resolution comes in handy. Contact me to learn how to drop below the he-said-then-I-said growling to get you wagging your tail again.

    More Possibility Applied.


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