One Cupcake Too Many

Professional Speaker, Positive Attitude, Personal Development

Here I go again!  The Easter holiday just passed and I couldn’t keep myself from reaching for the jelly beans, cupcakes and chocolate bunnies.  Now they’re showing up on my hips, waistline and thighs.  UGH!!!  It was a lot of fun putting on the weight – not so much fun taking it off.

That’s why I came up with three new tricks to help me shed those extra pounds – AGAIN!!!  Maybe a few of them can help you as well:

First: I’m trying to look at this whole weight loss thing a little differently.  Instead of telling myself “no,” I simply do a review at the end of the day and see how I could improve.  What did I eat?  What could I have changed?  What would make tomorrow a better day?  For some reason, asking these questions makes me feel less deprived.  It’s a subtle shift in words and a shift in my attitude. I look at how I can be better instead of beating myself up over the choices I made.

Second: I wear my clothes that are a little tight on me.  It’s a gentle nudge telling me I need to lose some weight.  So as I reach for that dessert after dinner, and it feels like my button is going to pop off and fly across the room, it’s a reminder that maybe I can pass on that chocolate chip cookie this time.

Third: When I have a craving, and for me it’s usually chocolate, I do something to keep my hands busy.  Sometimes I call a friend or I do the laundry or anything that takes my mind off a snack.  It helps me to think about something other than food.

So what do you think?  Give some of these ideas a try.  And the next time you’re tempted to go on a Chocolate Bunny Binge, they just may help you recover from your cravings a little quicker. 

Do you have any other ideas to share?  I’d love to hear them.

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Remembering Traditions My Way

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I am not a creature of habit, I never have been.  However, as the Easter holiday approaches I am reminded of the traditions I grew up with – traditions that I have never forgotten.  And they still bring a smile to my face more than 50 years later. 

Growing up, my family didn’t celebrate Easter in the typical way.  I don’t remember any baskets filled with candy, nor were there any Easter egg hunts.  Instead, my mom would fill a huge wicker basket with all the food she was going to prepare for our holiday dinner.  Our basket was overflowing with a huge ham leg, a loaf of bread with a cross baked into the crust, a cake in the shape of a lamb, a jar of horseradish, and I’m sure a few other items I’ve forgotten.

My brother and I would lug this heavy basket to the church parking lot and wait for the priest to come out and bless it, then haul it all the way back home. 

At seven years old, I never really understood the meaning behind all this, but now I realize that it created a bond between my brother and me that lives on today, and it has left me with so many special memories that will last a lifetime.

Hmmm, now I’m wondering if my brother has the same memory of those Easter holidays.  I wonder if he gets the same warm feeling when Easter comes around.  Maybe he doesn’t even remember them at all.  I’ll have to ask him the next time I see him.  OR maybe not. Maybe this is something I’ll keep to myself with my own images and my own emotions.  I don’t want to ruin this happy memory.  This one is just for me.

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You’ve Got a Friend

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Has your confidence ever been shaken to the core?  Have you ever gone through a challenge so great that you doubted yourself and stopped believing in your own self-worth?

I know I have, and it’s a scary place to be.  As I look at my life now, it’s hard to believe that my confidence was shattered, but there’s no doubt that seven years ago my life totally fell apart.  And it all happened so quickly.  One day I was in a loving 15 year relationship, owned a successful business and lived in a beautiful home.  Then the next day – PUFF!  It was all gone.  And I never saw it coming.  The 2008 recession swallowed my business, all my finances and I found myself sitting in a bankruptcy office.  How did I get here?  What was I going to do next?

So how did you survive your life challenge?  Whether you lost your job, lost someone you love, or lost your home, how did you get up the next morning and put one foot in front of the other?

One HUGE thing that helped me was my friends.  Never questioning me or judging me, they were just there.  One helped me pack my boxes to move, another held my hand as I looked for a new place to live, and others invited me to dinner and just let me ramble about my heartache.

Above all, they made me believe that I wasn’t alone.  And in the end, it has made me a better friend to others.  Now when someone calls me with a problem, I just listen.  Although I may be tempted, I don’t offer advice, and I certainly don’t interject my own stories of “you should hear what happened to me.”

I think that’s what I’m most grateful for – learning how to be a better friend to others. Learning to listen, tune in, and just BE there. 

For me, this quote says it all: “Friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest–It’s about those who came and never left your side.”Mikaela Tiu

Thanks to all my dear Friends who never left my side!

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Put On Your Confidence Cape

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Have you ever heard of Power Poses?  This term was introduced by Amy Cuddy and her now famous 2012 TED Talk.  It’s a concept that fascinated me and I was curious to see if it would work.

Here’s how it goes: When you find yourself in a stressful situation, stop and strike a pose like Wonder Woman.  You know what I mean – hands on hips, feet shoulder width apart, head up.  The idea is to hold this pose for two minutes and it can change your attitude.  According to Amy Cuddy, standing in a powerful position like this will actually have an effect on the cortisol levels in your brain.  You will feel more confident, assured and determined. 

Of course, you may feel a little strange striking the Wonder Woman pose while in your office or living room surrounded by people you know, so try it behind closed doors, like in a bathroom stall or empty elevator.  The idea is that you will emerge feeling more powerful and confident. 

Amy Cuddy also introduces several other poses you can use as well, some sitting down and others standing up.  Play around with them and see if they help you.  To learn more about her research, view her TED Talk at: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.

 So the next time you are going to that job interview, getting ready to conduct a meeting of your peers, or trying to get up the nerve to ask for that first date, try one of the Power Poses.  I’ve done a few myself and it really does make a difference.  What have you got to lose?

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Overworked? Overwhelmed?? Sound Familiar???

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I walk into my office and there it is, staring me in the face, almost laughing at me…piles everywhere, otherwise known as:  My Massive TO DO List.  So many times I feel so overwhelmed that I just turn around and walk out the door.  I don’t know where to start, so I do nothing.

We all have them, there’s no denying it.  Maybe your piles are like mine scattered all throughout your office, maybe you have color-coded them and filed them in your computer, or maybe you’ve downloaded one of the many apps on your iPhone.  But no matter where you keep them, they always seem to be lurking in the background, reminding us that we don’t have enough hours in the day.

So what can you do to gain control?  Well, I’ve come up with three easy techniques that have helped me master my piles – at least, most of the time:

Learn to say “no.”:  Stop adding to your never ending list of things to do.  There is always another book to read, another webinar to watch or another podcast to listen to.  But the real problem is that you already have so much great information from the past books and webinars and podcasts you’ve invested time and money in.  Take that hour and apply it to all that valuable information you already have sitting in those pretty color-coded files.

Make a file folder for each day of the week:  Label them Monday through Sunday.  Then, as something comes up that you need to accomplish on a specific day, put it in the appropriate folder.  This has helped me immensely.  I check my day folder each morning and it helps to keep me on track for the day.  There, right in front of me, is my “to do” list for the next 24 hours.  I can stay focused and it keeps me from chasing the next shiny object.  Pick a file holder that is fun and inspires you.  Check out the office supply stores -I’ve seen some lovely ones there.

Celebrate your small successes:  Many times we are so focused on the big projects and what we didn’t get done that we get frustrated and overwhelmed.  But what if we celebrated our small successes along the way, like making it to your appointment totally prepared, or serving a dinner that was actually pretty good.  By celebrating our small accomplishments, it gives us the courage and belief to tackle the bigger ones.

I can’t lie – I still have piles, but by using these three “tricks,” I find them more manageable and I’m not driving myself crazy.  Give these a try and let me know which one works best for you.

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

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You can see it in the distance.  Sometimes the road looks foggy, even a little scary, but you know you have to follow it if you want to reach your destination, your goal, your dreams.

Just like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward in spite of your fears, your self-doubt and your self-imposed excuses.

In my last three blogs I’ve shared some unique and out-of-the-box tips on networking, but none of that will help you if you don’t follow-up with the people who can lead you to your destination.  So here they are, five specific actions to take after meeting that person you believe can help you:

 1.   Don’t ask the expert to do the meeting scheduling. When you ask someone to meet with you, send them specific dates to consider.  If those dates are not available to them, they will send you options.  The most important thing is that you’ve started a conversation. 

2.       Make the meeting convenient and maybe even active. If you are asking for an hour coffee or lunch, choose a location that is convenient to the person you have asked to meet with you.  Even better, if you think they are open to it, ask to go for a walk.  They say that some of the best deals are made on the golf course, so why not the trail path?

3.       Go with a prepared list of questions.  Before you even meet, think carefully about  what you want to learn from this contact.  Make a list of questions so no one feels like their time is being wasted. 

4.       Find out what you can do for them.  Always end the meeting by asking what you can do to help them.  It could be business related, like introducing them to a valuable contact.  Or it can be personal, like telling them about the best restaurant in town.

5.       Always thank them more than once. In this day of instant everything, send a thank-you email or text immediately.  You know what else is amazing? A handwritten thank you note. Because very few people do this anymore, it will really make you stand out.

Give these follow-up tips a try and let me know how it goes.  You’ll be amazed at how one thing leads to another.   And one day when you find yourself in front of Oz, you will realize that even though the path was scary at times, it was also loads of fun.

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Tips Tricks & Techniques to Make Networking Fun

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Since we’re on a roll here, let’s continue this series on networking.

I’ve heard from so many people that they really dislike face-to-face networking.  It makes them feel intimidated and uncomfortable and they just don’t want to do it.  This made me wonder:  how can we turn the tables, flip the switch, and think differently about networking. 

I came up with five simple steps to make a game out of it – to actually make it fun.  So here are some tips, tricks and techniques to try.  Now remember, the key word here is “try.”  Pick and choose the techniques that are right for you and your personality.  I’m going to challenge you, though, to step out of your comfort zone – that is the only way you will grow.

So here we go…

1.       Get to the networking event early.  This may sound really simple, but many people show up in time for the speaker, then leave immediately after.  That is NOT networking.  By getting to the event early, you will feel less intimidated because there are fewer people there.   Then you can really focus on who you want to meet and start a conversation with.

2.       Don’t tell yourself “no”.  Many times my inner voice starts screaming: “no one wants to meet you, you have nothing of value to offer, no one will listen to you…” If this ever happens to you, STOP and hit the delete button!!!  There are enough people out there already telling you “no” so don’t become one of them.  Instead choose your three greatest attributes and repeat them to yourself over and over again.

3.       If it feels comfortable to you, wear something that stands out.  I often wear my red boots because people will compliment me on my boots.  It’s a great conversation starter.  Anyone can wear something that’s a little different – maybe a different colored shirt or tie or blouse.  It will make you stand out from the crowd.  Try it and see if it works for you.

4.       Smile.  It’s a powerful show of confidence which people respect and are drawn to.  Smiles are contagious and the simple act of smiling makes people feel better.  No matter who you’re approaching,  there is no stronger opener.

5.       Remember the #1 rule – LISTEN.  Meeting people is about making their lives better.  Whether you give them a smile, a new job or anything in between, there is a way to help everyone.  Listen and learn about what matters to them.  People want to tell their stories.  Be the person who is excited to hear them.

I encourage you to try all five techniques.  After all, how do you know which ones will work best if you don’t test them?  Let me know if you have a favorite. 

Now go out there an have some fun networking!

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5 Networking Questions that Actually Work!

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In my blog last week, I shared a unique way to look at face-to-face networking, especially if you are a bit introverted or on the shy side.  The key is to think of networking as simply starting a conversation, that’s all.  You’re not trying to make a sale, interest people in your idea, or land your dream job.  Your only goal is to start a conversation. 

But how can you reach out to people and engage them in a conversation that will help you determine if they are a good fit for you?

Well, here are five specific questions to help you get started.  Five questions that can help you in any networking situation:

  1. Start a conversation with “Where are you from?”  This can trigger a number of different responses.  They could talk about the company they represent, where they grew up or where they currently live.  It is a great start to a conversation because it can be answered in a number of different ways.
  2. When they tell you what they do, ask: “Describe your typical day to me.”  So many times people use industry jargon and you have no idea what they are talking about.  This is a simple way to understand what they do on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Instead of asking “What do you do?” ask “Where do you work?”  It’s a simplier question to ask because people may be more comfortable talking about their company instead of themselves. 
  4. “How did you come up with that idea?”  This is especially good for people who are self-employed.  There is usually a good story behind starting your own business.
  5. Find something in common that you can share with them in your opening conversation.  For instance, “I see that you belong to the chamber.  So do I.

These are just a few examples for getting a conversation started.  Pick and choose the ones that work for you.  Once you ask the question, your next goal is to LISTEN.  Only in listening can you determine if this person is a good match for your service or product.  Only by listening can you decide if you want to follow up with a second meeting.

I’m curious which question works best for you.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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Nifty Networking Tips: Let’s Make This Easy AND Fun

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There are so many different reasons for networking.  What’s yours?  I challenge you to think out-of-the-box.

Are you networking to:

                Get more business

                Sell a product or service

                Raise money

                Raise awareness

                Find a job

                Find a date

Whatever your reason is, write it down – then go after it with a vengeance. Be clear about your goal.  It will help you avoid unfocused networking and will save you a LOT of time.

Next, find the group that is best for you.  One where you can meet people who will help you reach your goal. I know that going to the first meeting – the one where you don’t know anyone – can be quite intimidating.  And if you’re anything like me, it can be extremely nerve wracking.  You face a sea of strangers stretched out before you – and all you want to do is turn and run out the door.  You’re uncomfortable and unnerved and uncertain.

If you have ever felt like this, here’s a little tip:

Think of networking a little differently.  Know that networking is not talking to strangers but rather starting a conversation.  That’s all you’re trying to do at this point – start a conversation.  You are not looking to close the sale, land the job or get the check for your project.  Although that would be nice, chances are it will take more than one meeting to reach that goal.  So for now, you’re only objective is to talk to this person long enough and decide if you want to schedule a second meeting.  Is this someone who can help you?

So, instead of seeing strangers, think of this networking event as an opportunity to meet potential clients or potential friends.  Personally, I love using the word curious.  It changes your mindset.  Think:  I’m curious who I’m going to meet today.  I’m curious how they can help my business.  I’m curious how I can help them.  This one word will help you look at the opportunities that lay before you.  It can make all the difference in the world.

Remember that the people at the networking event are the same as you.  We all have insecurities; we all have doubts.  But most of us want to help each other. If you are at the same event, chances are that you already have a lot in common.

So whether you’re at a corporate event or in a coffee shop, you never know who can help you.  You never know who you can extend a helping hand to in return.  So start that conversation.  If you find this difficult, tune in next week and I’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to do exactly that.  In the meantime, start with a smile and simply say “hi.”

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What a Non-Sports Fan Learned From the Superbowl

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Because I grew up with three older brothers you’d think I’d be very interested in sports…but I’m not.  I know some of the basic rules for football and basketball and baseball, but for some reason I never became an avid fan. 

That’s why I was a little surprised when last Sunday’s Super Bowl game had such an impact on me. 

As I thought about it, what really captured my attention was not the final score or even the action on the field – but the sheer determination to win.  A focus that became so intense it was unexplainable and unbeatable.

Here’s what I observed – and since I’m not a sports aficionado, I will probably get some of the details and terminology wrong.  But what I saw has far greater impact than any numbers on a scoreboard.    

All I know is that one team was winning by a whole lot with only a few minutes left in the game.  It seemed obvious to everyone who the winner would be.  There was a HUGE point difference and it seemed insurmountable.

Then something changed.  Somehow, some way, the losing team dug deep inside themselves and found a strength that kept them moving forward – one yard at a time, one play at a time, one touchdown at a time. 

They refused to give up!!!

Even when most people around them did give up – even some of their fans – they refused to throw in the towel.  The losing team found courage, confidence and belief in themselves and their teammates.  They found a way to chip away at that score, and in just a few minutes they crossed that finish line – champions. 

Impressive —Very Impressive!

The power of not giving up, of believing in yourself, of giving it one more try.  I can’t even begin to imagine what we can accomplish with that type of determination.

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