Customer Service Gone Astray

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

It was a night to celebrate.  My dear friend just became a grandfather for the first time and he wanted to treat us to our beverage of choice.  Since he is Irish, we headed to the nearest Irish Pub and he ordered Guinness for everyone.   We were all laughing, toasting and enjoying our friendship, when suddenly the lights that were strung above our heads came crashing down – broken glass and sparks flying everywhere.  The strand landed between my two friends and it was truly a miracle, kismet, or whatever you want to call it that no one was hurt. 

What amazed me, though, was the reaction of the owner.  We were the only group sitting on the patio at this point, so the server calmly walked into the restaurant and called the owner.  When she saw what happened, she quietly asked “are you ok?”  Then, without even waiting for an answer, she started rearranging the chairs on the patio.

Wait!  That’s it!!!  As one friend was holding her hand to see if any glass had wedged itself under her skin, and another friend was brushing broken glass from her purse and from of her dress, the owner was moving chairs around???  Her lack of emotion and compassion still astounds me.

I wanted to scream: “Can I see your manager?  I want to talk to someone who cares!” but there she was –  the boss, the owner, the person in charge – and she couldn’t care less. 

So this morning, as I think about how lucky we all were that no one got hurt, I find myself confused and annoyed at the lack of customer service and overall consideration that we received.  Because of that, I’d like to share with you the three techniques I feature in my customer service presentation:

                                                                                 Clarity          Character          Cultivate

Understanding and practicing each of these will guarantee that your clients or customers will never suffer the lack of consideration that we did.  Stay tuned next week and I’ll give you more information on each.  It’s good stuff and something you can start using immediately even at home with your family.  

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The Rule of Three

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Yep, I discovered The Rule of Three when my life was quite messy.  It’s the sixth technique I’m going to share with you during this “How to Get Back on Your Feet” series.

This is what happened:

I started noticing that there were some things in my life that kept coming back to me over and over again, like the word Toastmasters.  I’d never heard about this group, but several people told me to look into it – that I might be interested.

At first I ignored them, but the third time I heard the word Toastmasters, I went home and Googled it.  I found out they are an international organization whose members give speeches at their club meetings, then are evaluated by their peers.  They promote communication, public speaking and leadership skills.  Although I didn’t give any speeches at the time, I decided to give it a try.

Today, Toastmasters is probably one of the major contributions that led me to being a Professional Speaker.   I met so many people who helped me get my new business off the ground and turn it into the success it is today.

Another time The Rule of Three changed my life happened when my young friend, Karla, suggested I try online dating.  Now, realize that I was 63 years old at the time and I had vowed to never let another man in my life.  But somehow, she convinced me to try it and “just see what happens.”

At that time, I lived in Chicago and I never planned on leaving the city – NEVER! 

After a couple of weeks on eHarmony, a picture of a sweet-smiling guy popped up.  I was interested, that is until I saw that he lived in Madison, Wisconsin.

Nope, not for me.  I’m not leaving Chicago.

But the third time his photo appeared, I sent him an invitation.  And as they say, the rest is history.

I now live in Madison, Wisconsin.  We got married a couple of years ago.

So I’ve learned that when something comes back to me three times, I have to  stop and take notice  That doesn’t mean that I have to follow through, but I do have to look at it carefully, research it, then decide what’s best for me.

Remember, you never know what life will throw your way.  It just may be worth taking a closer look.  Paying attention to The Rule of Three has certainly taken my life in different directions, and I couldn’t be happier.

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Fairy Tale Formula

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In my “How to Get Back on Your Feet” series, I’m going to share with you a fourth technique that helped me regain my confidence and believe in myself once again

Actually, this is more of a formula than a technique.  Once you fill in the blanks, it can help you rewrite your story whenever you are having a bad day – or a bad year.

I found this formula during a time when my life was a mess.  I wish I could remember where I discovered it, but everything back then was such a blur.  I just don’t know who to give credit to. So the next best thing I can do is pay it forward, and hope it will help someone else the way it helped me.

The formula goes like this:

Once upon a time there was:

Every day:

One day:

Because of that:

Because of that:

Until finally:

Now that I’ve totally confused you, let me give you an example of how this can actually be used. Remember, this was about seven years ago and my life had been turned upside down. I had no idea where I was going or how I was going to get there.

Then I saw this formula.   I thought: “What the heck – what can I lose?”

So I sat down with a pen and let my mind wander to where I wanted to be, filled in the blanks, and this is what I came up with:

Once upon a time, there was: A young woman who thought she had it all.  A loving mate, a beautiful house, and all the riches she could ask for.

Every day: She felt loved and safe and protected.

One day: Her mate left and she lost everything.  She couldn’t breathe. She didn’t know how to move forward.  She was lost and alone.

Because of that: She slowly discovered parts of herself she never knew existed.  She found her voice. 

Because of that: She found a career she is passionate about.  One that helped her to heal and one that helps others to heal as well.

Until Finally: She was able to trust and love again.  This time she has a loving husband instead of a mate.  She has a beautiful home instead of a house.  And she has discovered riches inside of her that are beyond her wildest dreams.

Now, here we are seven years later.   For those of you who know me, you might be feeling the same goose bumps I’m feeling right now – because this is actually the story of my life today.  Everything I lost a few years ago has now been transformed into my new career as a Professional Speaker, a new husband (that I met online, by the way), and a new home in Middleton, WI.  Reading my words so many years later was actually a bit scary and so, so rejuvenating.

So, if you’re feeling up to it, give the formula a try.  It’s fun to see what you will write when you are not busy trying analyze and control your future.

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This Game We Call LIFE

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Six year ago I sat across the desk from a judge, finalizing the paperwork for my bankruptcy.  When I walked out the door, I owned nothing.  I had lost my car, all my savings, my home, and worst of all, my self-respect.  On paper, I was worth nothing!  And in my heart, I felt worthless.

How could this happen?  At age 61, how did I end up here?

But slowly, little by little, piece by piece, I began to scoop up the pieces and put my life back together again.  Not all the pieces fit, so I had to throw some out and replace them with something new – like a new career, a new home, and even a new husband.

It was an uphill climb, but through my friends and family, and a very supportive husband, I have regained my life. 

Now, six years later, I am in an entirely different place.  From that small bankruptcy office, I have now advanced to a life that I didn’t think was possible.  A life that is truly more fulfilled than I ever imagined it could be.

In the last six years, I’ve started my own business as a professional speaker, which brings me so much joy.  Every evening I end the day in my cozy home.  And I have found laughter again with both my old friends and even a few new ones. 

Once again I ask myself: How did I get here?

Over the years I have met people, read books, and watched movies that taught me how to develop a positive attitude.   It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight, but it DID happen.  So in the next few blogs, I’d like to share with you some of those lessons I learned.  Some of the “secrets” that helped me regain my confidence and rebuild my life.

So if you find yourself in a challenging time, tune in again next week.  You will learn some things that will help bring that smile back to your face.  And if you’re in a good place right now, I’m truly happy for you.  But even you can gain from my future lessons, because they will help enhance what you already have. 

Either way, you will learn something new and unique.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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What is a Mastermind Group?

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In my last blog, I shared some thoughts on having an accountability partner. Just that one change alone can help you get closer to your end goal, whatever it may be.

Here’s another idea you might want to consider. What about joining a Mastermind Group?

Huh? Not sure what that is???

Well, it’s simply a small group of people who all share a common goal. You meet at a specific time each week or month to help each other. There are quite a few benefits:

~ You can get clarity on your specific goals
~ Your peers, whose opinion you trust, give you honest and valuable feedback
~ You have the opportunity to brainstorm new possibilities
~ You are supportive of one another – nothing judgmental here!
~ You all share valuable information

I just met with my Mastermind Group last night. We are all professional speakers, so we share a lot of the same challenges. We each get a chance to speak during the meeting, and just to give you an idea of how helpful this can be, these were the benefits I received last night:

At the end of the meeting, I walked away with specific names of publishers for my new book, I received detailed suggestions on how to improve my speech for the upcoming International Speech Contest, and someone loaned me a video camera that I can borrow to tape my upcoming presentation.

Not bad for one evenings work!!!

In return, I offered my expertise on marketing, sales, creating new workshops, and a whole lot more.

Let me put it this way – I am never disappointed or feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Do you belong to a Mastermind Group? What are your experiences? Do you find that it gets you closer to your goals? Just as important, do you actually follow through with what your learned during the meeting? I’d love to hear your story.

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Take Three Steps Forward: Find an Accountability Partner

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Do you know what an accountability partner is? Better yet, do you have one?

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine called and asked if I would be her accountability partner. I was absolutely thrilled. Not only do we have similar careers, I also admire and trust her implicitly. I knew that working with her would help me be a better professional speaker and a better person in the process.

So here’s how it goes. Pick a goal that you would like to achieve. It could be related to physical fitness, improving your business, a personal project – actually, just about anything.

Then you look for the ideal person that will help keep you on track so you can reach that goal. I’ve had several accountability partners in my past, and these three tips helped them to be very successful:

1. Find the Right Person: Choose a person who will be encouraging and motivating, yet will push you to get closer to your goal. Someone who will not accept your excuses, and will give you pointers on how to move forward. It will be helpful if your values and ideas are similar. Remember, this relationship is chosen – it should not feel forced or uncomfortable.
2. Take Responsibility for Your Goal: Remember that your accountability partner is not responsible for your successes or your setbacks. S/he will help to guide you, but you are the only one who is ultimately responsible for yourself.
3. Make Time: Schedule a specific time to meet or talk on the phone, and stick to it!!! Consistency is the key. My partner and I talk every Monday at 9:00am. If either one of us is traveling or has an appointment we can’t change, we reschedule, but that is rare.

Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we have someone to be accountable to. I know this works for me. I still may procrastinate and have to set the alarm for 6:00 Monday morning to get ready for my accountability partner that day, but I do get it done. And the best part is that I love working with her. It’s fun and productive and supportive. What a great way to start my week!!!

Try it and let me know if it works for you. Just remember to surround yourself with people that force you to do better. You can’t lose.

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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Me? I wanted to be on stage. It didn’t matter if I was singing, or dancing, or acting, I just wanted to perform for my adoring fans. I used to put glitter in my hair and prance around our living room, thanking my audience for their applause.

This was even reflected in my choice of toys. While my girlfriends played with baby dolls that they could feed or change their diapers, I was captivated by Barbie. After all, she had a beautiful long evening gown, a gold brocade coat with fur cuffs, and a MICROPHONE!!! At seven years old, I had found my calling in life.

Well, this past weekend got me closer to that childhood dream than I ever imagined possible. You see, I’ve been competing in a series of speech contests for Toastmasters. In the category of International Speech Contest, I took first place at the District Level. Now I’m off to Washington D.C. in August for the finals. As a professional speaker, this is a huge honor.

Being on that stage and delivering my speech seemed so right. I felt like I had finally arrived and am truly living my passion. Sounds corny, huh??? But I’m ok with that because I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. It only took me six decades to get there!

So – what do you want to be when you grow up? Where has your journey taken you? I’d love to hear all about it.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering – Yes, I still have my original Barbie doll. She is a constant reminder of never giving up.

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Red Carpet Dreams

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Thinking

As I watched the Academy Awards the other night, I heard several celebrities tell a similar story. It went something like this…

“As a kid, I watched the Academy Awards on TV. I never dreamed I would be walking down that red carpet myself someday.”

And it made me wonder. What is my red carpet?  What did I dream of as a kid?

Me? I wanted to be a professional ice skater!  For some reason, I knew about a famous figure skater named Sonja Henie.  She actually competed in the 1920s and 1930s, so I have no idea how I heard about her.  Maybe from my parents.  I’m not really sure.

All I remember is that I would lace up my ice skates, glide out onto the rink, and announce to the world: Here she is, Nancy Depcik, debuting as an Olympic figure skater. I could picture it, outfit and all, and I could hear the roar of the crowd.  That was my red carpet dream.

But my life took me down another path – one that did not include ice skates. However, it did include the excitement of a crowd and the energy of an audience.  So, as a professional speaker, I guess my ice rink became my stage, and I traded in my ice skates for a microphone.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love what I do, sharing my message of positive thinking with all who will listen, helping people to see their life challenges a little differently, and to find happiness in the process.

Red carpet dreams really do come true, sometimes they just look a little differently than the one we imagined. What’s your story?  Do you have a red carpet dream?

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