Is the Light On in Your Eyes?

you'll never regret - red rocks - middle

I recently had an opportunity to speak for a national convention in San Diego on the topic of “Is the Light On In Your Eyes?” The conference theme was “Reflections on Success.” I started by saying many of us spend more time reflecting on what movie to watch this weekend than on what we’re going to do with the rest of our life.

Many of the audience members had been running their business for 10-30 years. Many have so many different projects and people counting on them, they feel they can’t take time off. Many work 60-70 hour weeks and haven’t taken a vacation for years. Some are ready to retire, but don’t want to do “nothing” and can’t imagine what they’re going to do NEXT that could be as satisfying and productive as what they’re currently doing. Many don’t have a succession plan in place and don’t want to see the business they worked so hard to build go down the drain.

I told them we were going to spend the next ninety minutes reflecting on what’s working, what’s not and what we’re going to do about it NOW. I shared a quiz to help them figure out in 4 minutes what’s supporting their happiness, what’s sabotaging it.

One of the options we talked about is the value of integrating our passion into our profession so our hobby it’s no longer something we never do because we’re “too busy.” Many people told me they don’t have time to do the recreational activities that used to bring them joy. I told them, they can COMBINE their recreation WITH their career in a win-win way – instead of seeing them as being mutually exclusive.

Here’s what I mean.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the largest networking organization in the world. After hearing about my full calendar of speaking, consulting and traveling, he asked, “What do you do for fun?”

Long pause. I finally dug deep and came up with “I walk my dog around the lake.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do work that makes a positive difference … it’s just that I was going 24/7.

That conversation and several other wake-up calls motivated me to set out on a Year by the Water. I didn’t abandon my business … I just took it on the road. As James Taylor said when he took a break from touring for a year to compose new lyrics and produce a new album; “I didn’t quit work – I did a different kind of work.” .

What I’ve learned the past 18 months disrupted everything I thought I knew about what true success looks and feels like: I discovered:

* we don’t have to be torn between two worlds – we can have the best of both worlds.

* hard-work is over-rated – fun is not a four letter word

* it’s not always better to give than to receive

* people can’t jump on our bandwagon if it’s parked in the garage

* change doesn’t require courage – it requires trusting that the only way to know is to go

* to create the quality of life we deserve, we need to stop watering dead plants

* it’s not selfish to put yourself in your own story

* waiting is a prescription for regrets

* we can can combine work and recreation and leverage what we’re good at – for good

* someday is not a day in the week

* we don’t have to put aside what puts the light on in our eyes – you can integrate it into our daily life in a way that makes us even more balanced and blessed.

Want an example of what I mean?

When I lived on Maui, I had a friend named Kathy who was a 4.5 tennis player and a Realtor. We played a couple times a week until the economy slumped and she told me she was “too busy” finding clients to play tennis anymore. I suggested her hobby wasn’t an indulgence she do only when she had spare time – it was a competitive edge that could give her access to ideal clients. I suggested she approach the concierges at the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea Resort (both 5 diamond properties catering to affluent travelers – Kathy’s target demographic) and let them know they could recommend her to guests looking for a good game of singles. They eagerly did this because Kathy had lived on the island for years, was a respected member of the community, and they trusted her to make this a good experience for their resort guests.

This turned into a win for everyone. Within a month, Kathy was back to playing tennis 3-5 times a week AND had several new clients buying houses. She didn’t offend anyone with hard selling. It was natural while sharing an iced-tea after a satisfying match, guests would ask “What do you do?” When they found out she was a Realtor, they’d often ask if she had any properties for a good price. Not only was Kathy back to being outside doing a hobby that put the light on in her eyes – it became an organic marketing tool that kept her visible and became her secret sauce to success in a down market.

Want other ways to figure out how you can be creatively productive? Want to figure out how you can integrate your passion into your profession? Want to leverage your years of experience into a legacy message and mission that make a positive difference?

Check out my SerenDestiny site where I share posts on what TRUE SUCCESS looks and feels like for me and for people I had an opportunity to interview in my travels. Hope you find it inspiring and it helps you take responsibility for creating a more meaningful life now … not someday.

I am a woman on a mission to remind people the clock is ticking. Not in a morbid way, in a motivating way.

It is NOT selfish to do more of what matters to you, it is smart. Integrating what’s truly important into each day is not an indulgence; it is an investment in a healthier, happier future.

Stop waiting for the life you want. Figure out what puts the light on in your eyes and start doing it more of it NOW. You will never regret clarifying what true success means to you and integrating more of that into your life … you will only regret not doing it sooner.

– – –

Sam Horn, Founder. CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, helps people create quality, one-of-a-kind communications that add value for all involved. Her books – including IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! POP!and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured on NPR and in Fast Company, INC, New York Times and presented to National Geographic, Boeing, Cisco, Capital One, NASA. Want Sam to share her keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

Top 30 Quotes on Curiosity and Creativity

“Creativity is simply connecting new dots in new ways.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert creativity connecting new dots - middle

If you’e read any of my books or attended any of my presentations, you already know I love quotes. Why? Pithy, profound, provocative quotes are a quick way to get our message’s foot in our readers’, viewers’ and listeners’ mental door. When we introduce something people haven’t heard before; they want to know more.

The thing is, the quotes need to be FRESH. If we launch into a quote people have seen or heard before, it’s more likely to earn a groan than an intrigued “Tell me more.”

Here are my favorite 30 quotes on creativity and curiosity. Hope you enjoy them and are able to use them to craft intriguing communications that elicit curiosity in your topic. I’ve added a sample of how each quote could offer fresh insight into a subject you’re addressing.

1. “If there were a rehab for curiosity; I’d be in it.” – CBS news anchor Diane Sawyer (Thankfully, there is no cure for curiosity. It’s one of the healthiest ways to live life.)

2. “I think we need a 12-step group for non-stop talkers. We’re going to call it On and On Anon.” – Paula Poundstone (We’re curious only when we’re listening and genuinely interested in understanding what the other person means – not when we’re talking).

3. “Curiosity will conquer fear more than bravery will.” – James Stephenson (Instead of trying to summon up courage – summon up curiosity.)

4. “I am in love with hope.’ – Tuesdays with Morrie Author Mitch Albom (Pessimism is an absence of hope or curiosity in how we can create a better future).

5. “There’s no such thing as a wrong note as long as you’re singing.” – singer Pete Seeger (There’s no wrong in creativity – the whole idea is to do it your way.)

6. “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” – columnist Maureen Dowd (Compromise is often the death of curiosity; it means we’re giving up on finding a new way, a better way.)

7. “There is moment in every child’s life where a door opens and lets the future in.” – author Graham Greene (The goal is to be aware when a creative opportunity presents itself – instead of being so busy we overlook it.)

8. “What a wonderful life I’ve had. I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” – singer Colette (Part of a creative life is being grateful for life’s wonders now, not someday.)

9. “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I am with you, kid. Let’s go.’” – author Maya Angelou (Curiosity isn’t passive – it’s an energetic embracing of life).

10. Before there were drawing boards, what did we go back to?” – comedian George Carlin (A good sense of humor – and being curious to find more effective ways of doing things – is at the heart of creativity.)

11. “Guard your good mood.” – Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep (Being in a bad mood kills creativity and curiosity because they require positive energy.)

12. “To do what you love and feel that it matters; how could anything be more fun?” – Katherine Graham of the Washington Post (If you’re having fun, it’s a good sign you are being curious and creative.)

13. Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings (Yes, curiosity rests on a fundamental belief that the human spirit is a blessing to be experienced, not protected.)

14. “Teachers affect eternity. Who knows where their influence will end?’ – Henry Brooks Adams (If we can teach our kids anything, it’s that curiosity and creativity are encouraged and welcomed, not stifled and shut down.)

15. “I have the world’s best job. I get paid to hang out in my imagination all day.” – author Stephen King (Imagination + Curiosity = Creativity.)

16. “Let us then, be up and doing.” – author Longfellow (It’s not enough to believe in the importance of curiosity and creativity, we must ACTIVATE it in our everyday lives.)

17. “I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – composer Arthur Rubenstein (A heartfelt yes to this quote – one of my favorites. Loving and appreciating life is at the core of creativity and curiosity.)

18. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks of changing himself.” – author Leo Tolstoy (Instead of simply recommending what others should do, we must go first, set the example and model the creative change we’re suggesting).

19. “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston (Instead of getting ahead of ourselves and jumping to conclusions; research requires that we be open to discovery and that our playing be purposeful.)

20. “It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. Intuition tells the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk (Creativity calls for us to honor intuitive nudges that are pointing us in new directions, pointing out new options.)

21. “”The world was shocked to learn I wrote a bestseller at 66. No matter how long you live, you have stories to tell. What else is there to do but head off on the Conestoga wagon of the soul?” – Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes (The good news is, we can be creative at any age if we keep our curiosity alive.)

22. “The purpose of life is to . . . matter; to feel it has made some difference that we have lived at all.” – Leo Rosten (One of the surest ways to make an enduring difference is to create a new way, a better way, to live life and do business).

23. “When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way; you will command the attention of the world.” – inventor George Washington Carver (by definition, creativity is looking for an uncommon answer. If it’s common, it’s not creative.)

24. “Creativity is based on the belief that there’s no particular virtue in doing things they way they’ve always been done.” – Rudolph Flesch (Turn status quo into status grow. Don’t be content to do same-old, same-old.)

25. “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” – William Ward (May we keep the fires of curiosity burning – and light the way with our creativity).

26. “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. – Eleanor Roosevelt (I agree. Einstein called this “knowledge curious;” and I did everything I could while my sons Tom and Andrew were growing up to encourage and support their curiosity – because as long as we’re curious about life’ we’ll always be engaged and eager to discover what’s next.)

27. “The travel impulse is mental and physical curiosity. It’s a passion. And I can’t understand people who don’t want to travel.” – Paul Thoreaux (This is why I set off on my Year by the Water. It grew out of a mental and physical curiosity about wanting to explore the many parts of this intriguing world I hadn’t yet had an opportunity to experience – out of an innate passion to discover what over the next knoll.)

28. “You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them. Sir Ken Robinson (Have you seen Sir Ken Robinson’s #1 rated TED talk about how schools are killing creativity? He’s right. As leaders, teachers and parents, we need to create a climate conducive to creativity and curiosity – and that means not punishing people when they come alive with excitement and are bursting with creative energy.)

29. “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.” – Twyla Tharp (I listened to Twyla Tharp’s excellent The Creative Habit while traveling across America. She says, “Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” Mine is connection, for when we’re curious about what’s happening to and around us, we’re deeply connected.)

30. “It may be that our cosmic curiosity… is a genetically-encoded force that we illuminate when we look up and wonder.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson (Yes, looking up, looking out and looking around in wonder is the quintessence of curiosity.)

– – –

Sam Horn is on a mission to help people create more compelling, collaborative communications that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books – including POP!, Tongue Fu!, IDEApreneur and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and Fast Company and presented to NASA, Accenture, ASAE and National Geographic. Want Sam to present at your next convention? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAggency.com

Want to Give a Career-Making Talk?

Do you have an opportunity to speak at TED, TEDx, SXSW, Small Business Expo, 99U, WBENC, Dreamforce, NMX, World Domination Summit, Wisdom2.0 or BIF?

Have you watched the careers of Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy and Dan Pink SOAR after they delivered powerfully original messages?

If so, you already know that a quality 10-18 minute talk can be a career-maker.

If you have an opportunity to get up in front of a group of people, please understand that EVERYONE in the room (and watching the video later) is a decision-maker. Every single person has the power to take you and what you care about viral. Each person has the power to quote you, post about you, promote you, fund you or work with you.

Invest in your future. Use these “7 Cs of Original Messaging” to create a genuinely intriguing, one-of-a-kind talk that favorably impresses/influences everyone in the room and in the online audience in the years ahead.

1. CLEAR

A Hollywood producer once told me directors can predict when their movies will make money. How? Simple. Do people walk out of the theater repeating something they heard word for word? If so, they become word-of-mouth advertisers. When people ask, “Seen any good movies lately?” they’re talking about your movie and taking it viral.

The same applies to your talk. Can listeners repeat your big idea – your most important point – word for word? If they can, they’ll become your word-of-mouth advocates. If they can’t, your big idea will be out-of-sight, out-of-mind … in one ear, out the other.

Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech
for Philadelphia’s University for the Arts shows the payoff of distilling your big idea into a crystal-clear sound bite. “Make Good Art” resonated so powerfully with the initial audience of hundreds, the video went viral within days and was turned into a best-selling book.

2. COMPELLING.

You’ve got 60 seconds to capture everyone’s attention or they’ll start checking email.

No perfunctory opening. No, “I’m glad to be here today and want to thank the organizer for inviting me.” That’s predictable, and predictable is boring. Pleasantly surprise everyone by jumping right into your origin story or into a compelling, counter-intuitive insight that flies in the face of current beliefs.

Test your premise beforehand with colleagues. If they say, “I already know that,” it’s back to the drawing board. Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?” Keep tweaking your idea until people’s eyebrows go up (a sure sign of curiosity) and they say, “Hmmm. That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

3. CURRENT

The keynote speaker at a recent conference used the often-referenced “Pygmalion in the Classroom” study of how teachers’ expectations affect student performance as the basis for her talk. Really?! That study was done in 1989! She couldn’t find any current studies to make her case? Referencing such an outdated source undermined her credibility.

Recency = relevancy. What just-released report can you reference to prove your point? Recent research will get their attention, and respect.

4. CONGRUENT

After you’ve come up with a big idea, run it by your gut. Ask yourself, “Is this congruent with my voice, my vision, my values? If the program coordinator suggests a topic, but it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong for you. A career-making talk shares your EEE – Expertise, Experience, Epiphanies – not someone else’s. What do you passionately believe? What is a heartfelt legacy message that sums up what you’ve learned from life? What’s an exciting invention, innovation or breakthrough you’ve been part of?

An executive called me a week before his program and said, “I hope you can help. I’ve been traveling almost nonstop, so I asked our company speechwriter to help prepare my talk. It’s well-done, it just doesn’t sound like me.”

I told him, “You’re right. A career-making talk has got to be your voice. Get a recorder and ask someone to take notes while you read the script. Every time you read something and think, ‘I would never say it that way,’ say out loud how you would say it. Don’t censure or second-guess yourself, don’t try to be eloquent, and don’t overthink it. Just keep moving forward, rewording it into your natural voice. Ask your assistant to integrate your phrasing into a new version and then read it out loud again until you wouldn’t change a word. Now, it’s your talk.”

5. COMMERCIALLY VIABLE

The purpose of a talk at most venues is not to sell your products or services, and it shouldn’t be your priority. Unless this is a pitch forum where you are supposed to be marketing yourself and your company, the point is to ADD VALUE FOR THE AUDIENCE not to promote yourself, your products and services. The fact is, though, an excellent talk will scale your visibility, viability and drive business to and for you.

Witness what’s happened to Brené Brown. Brené was a professor when she spoke for TEDx-Houston. She was popular at her university, but hardly a household name. Her talk on vulnerability was so evocative, it was quickly uploaded to the TED.com site and has since received 29 million views. Her resulting Oprah appearances made her an international fan favorite, generating lucrative book deals and five-figure keynotes.

6. CONSISTENT

It’s important that your talk be consistent with your brand positioning and primary focus. Instead of summarizing what you’ve done in the past, a career-making talk is a pebble in the pond of your best future. Ask yourself, “What do I want my next 1-3 years of my life to look like? How could this talk catalyze that and set that up?”

For example, a colleague was asked to give a TEDx talk about bullying since she’d had a horrific experience being bullied at work. She feels strongly about this issue, and has a lot to say about the importance of speaking up instead of waiting for HR to rescue you (not going to happen). But she is a management consultant. She doesn’t want to keep reliving that negative experience by speaking, consulting, and doing media interviews on it. It wouldn’t serve her goals to drive demand that’s inconsistent with her priorities and the quality of life she seeks. It’s smarter to select an idea that’s in alignment with what she wants to accomplish the next few years.

7. COMPETITIVE EDGE

I had an opportunity to hear the Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather speak recently. Following his talk, I asked him, “What’s your next “big idea?” He said, “I’ve got one, but I’m researching to see if anyone else has gotten there first.”

Exactly. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said, “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” Once you have a clear, compelling, current, consistent, congruent, commercially viable idea, Google it to see if anyone else has gotten there first. If they have, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon the idea; it just means you should design a provocative premise around it that hasn’t been shared before.

For example, watch Sir Ken Robinson, the most-watched TED talk of all time. Certainly, other experts have talked about the need for creativity in our schools, but no one does it quite like Ken.

Does your career-making talk meet all seven C criteria of Original Messaging? If so, kudos to you. You’ve dramatically increased the likelihood your talk will be a success for you, the meeting planner, and everyone who watches in person and online.

If not, invest the effort to craft an original 7C talk that gets and keeps people’s eyebrows up. Your audience, career, and legacy will thank you.

– – –

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create quality projects that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk on INTRIGUE and books – including POP!, IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, Inc, Fast Company and on NPR and MSNBC, and presented to Boeing, Intel, Cisco, NASA, Capital One, NASA, YPO, National Geographic.

Ideas in Your Head Help No One: Quotes to Inspire You to Get Your Work Out of Your Head and Into the World

When people tell me they’re thinking about writing a book, starting a business or launching a project – and they’re procrastinating – I tell them two things.

creativity is a roller coaster

First, “Creativity is a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs. If you embrace that instead of fight it, you will finish your project and get it out in the world where it can make a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.

Second, “Ideas and dreams in your head help no one.”

Have you ever thought of it that way? If you have experience, expertise and business ideas that would benefit others; it’s almost selfish to keep them to yourself.

Sharing your lessons-learned doesn’t come from arrogance, it comes from service. It’s an offering, a way of saying “Here’s something I think, feel, believe, see, have learned or have experienced. I hope it might be of interest and value to you.”

Yet, many people start with the best of intentions and then life intervenes. They get distracted, busy, overwhelmed, tired. They put their creative project aside to deal with other priorities – and never get back to it. That’s a path to regrets.

Are you procrastinating, waiting for more time? Are you too busy to write?

Face it. You’ll never have more time than you have right now. If you want results … carve out ten minutes every day to move your creative project forward.

Select one of these quotes that resonates with you and post it where you’ll see it every morning (your bathroom mirror?) It will help you keep your good intentions IN SIGHT – IN MIND instead of allowing them to drift out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

“If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter

“Nothing works unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

“Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” – Twyla Tharp

“When asked the secret to finishing his 500 page masterpiece The Power of One, author Bryce Courtenay growled, “Bum glue!”

“Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage … and you need to jump into it.” – Julia Cameron

“At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results.” – aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager

“If my doctor told me I had only 6 months to live, I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that separates the sheep from the goats.” – Sue Grafton

“Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” – Peter DeVries

“If you are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, you’re thinking like an amateur. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, does his work, keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” – Steven Pressfield

“I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” – Steve Martin

“I made a startling discovery. Time spent writing = output of work. Amazing.” – Ann Patchett

“Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” Christopher Parker

“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes

“The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein

“Best advice on writing I’ve ever received. Finish.” – Peter Mayle

“If you want to be certain, you should never attempt anything creative. In fact, you might as well just stay home. Because I don’t know anybody who is certain. That need to be certain is just procrastination.” – Mark Burnett

“When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” – Anne Sexton

“You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” – Erica Jong

“Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line.” – Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler

“When you speak, your words echo across the room. When you write, your words echo across the ages.” – Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul author Bud Gardner

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind has to know it has to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

“Planning to write is not writing. Writing is writing.” – E. L. Doctorow

“I think the worst, most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will look for some fact to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.” – James Rollins

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

“There’s a trick I’m going to share with you. I learned it almost twenty years ago and I’ve never forgotten it … so pay attention. Don’t begin at the beginning.” – Lawrence Block

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work and write; you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott

“I write because I cannot fly, but words can, and when they land, worlds appear.” – Susan Zeder

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May

“Do you know the #1 precursor to change? A sense of urgency.” John Kotter

It’s time to feel a sense of urgency about getting your ideas, dreams and projects finished and into the world. What’s the story you’re born to tell? The knowledge you want to pass along? The legacy message that could inspire others? The creative vision you want to contribute?

The time to share it is NOW. Promise you’ll sit down somewhere, sometime every day and take a minimum of ten minutes to move your project forward.

In the past twenty years, I’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of people craft quality books, develop one-of-a-kind keynotes and launch businesses, causes and creative projects.

In all that time, I’ve never met a single person who was sorry they finished their project and got it into the world; I’ve only met people who were sorry they didn’t do it … SOONER.

– – – – – –

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, helps people create quality projects that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books – POP!, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC, Readers Digest, on NPR and MSNBC, have been endorsed by Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey and have been presented to such diverse clients as Boeing, U.S. Embassy in London, Capital One, NASA and National Geographic.

Want to Deal with Difficult People – Without Becoming One Yourself?

Would you like to know what to do when:

* people complain, gossip, tease, blame or argue?
* people are accusing you of something you didn’t do?
* someone is not treating you with the respect you deserve?
* a customer, coworker or family member is getting on your last nerve?

We’re taught math in school; however we’re NOT taught how to deal with difficult people without becoming one ourselves. That’s where Tongue Fu!® (martial arts for the mind/mouth) comes in.

tongue-fu-hands-image

Tongue Fu!® is a trade-marked process (and book) that’s been endorsed by Tony Robbins who calls it “terrific,” and Executive Book Summaries who says it’s a “MUST for anyone who deals with the public.” These are the techniques you wish you’d been taught in school on how to deal with challenging situations you face every day, on and off the job. Read ‘em and reap.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #1. “What can I do when people complain?”

When people complain, don’t explain, Take the AAA Train. Explaining why something wasn’t done when it was supposed to be done makes people angrier because explanations come across as excuses. Instead, Agree, Apologize, Act. “You’re right, Mrs. Smith, we were supposed to send that material to you last week, and I’m sorry you didn’t receive it yet. If I could please have your name and address I’ll personally put that brochure in an envelope and make sure it goes out today.” Voila. Complaint over!

Tongue Fu!® Tip #2: “What can I do if people accuse me of something untrue?”

Whatever you do, don’t defend or deny it. If someone blindsides you with an unfair allegation, “You women are so emotional!” and you protest with, “We’re not emotional!” you’ve just proven their point. Instead, put the conversational ball back in their court with, “What do you mean?” Asking them to explain themselves will cause them to reveal the real issue and you can address that instead of reacting to their attack. Imagine an upset client claims, “You don’t care about your customers.” Protesting, “That’s not true. We pride ourselves on our quality service” turns this into a “Yes we do – No you don’t” debate. Instead ask, “What makes you think that?” The client may say “I’ve left three messages and no one’s called back.” Aaahh, the real issue. Now you know what’s really bothering her and you focus on that instead of reacting to her attack.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #3: “What can I do if people are arguing?”

Stop disagreements with a hand gesture. No, not that one! If people are arguing and you try to talk over them, what will happen? They’ll talk louder. The voice of reason will get drowned out in the commotion. Putting your hand up like a policeman will cause them to pause for just a moment, which gives you a chance to get your verbal foot in the door. Then say these magic words, “We’re here to find solutions, not fault.” Remind them that John F. Kennedy said, “Our task is not to fix the blame for the past, it’s to fix the course for the future.” If the conversation starts deteriorating into a gripe session again, make a T with your hands and call out, “Time out. Calling each other names won’t help. Instead, let’s focus on how we can keep this from happening again.”

Tongue Fu!® Tip #4: “What if I have to give bad news?”

Don’t use the apathetic words, “There’s nothing I can do” or “There’s no way I can fix this.” A front desk manager at a hotel asked, “What can we say when people grumble about the rain? There’s nothing we can do about the weather. We’re not Mother Nature.” I told her, “The words, ‘There’s nothing” and “There’s no way’ come across as a verbal dead-end. People will conclude you don’t care. They’ll get more louder in an effort to make you care. Use the words, ‘I wish,’ ‘I hope,’ or ‘There’s something’ to let people know you’re trying to help them. Say, ‘I wish I could bring out the sunshine for you. I know you were looking forward to some beach time’ or ‘I hope it clears up soon. In case it doesn’t, there’s something I can suggest. Here’s a list of rainy-day activities so at least you can make the most of your visit even if the sun doesn’t cooperate.'” In the real world, we can’t always give people what they want and we sometimes have to deliver bad news. We can at least give people our concern and offer options.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #5: “What can I do if someone makes a mistake?

If something’s gone wrong,don’t “should” on people. When we tell people what they should have done, they will resent us – even if what we’re saying is right. Why? People can’t undo the past. If they’re being reprimanded for something they can’t change, they’ll channel their feeling of helplessness or guilt into antagonism towards us. My mom used to tell me, “We can’t motivate people to do better by making them feel bad.” Telling people what they “should” have done makes them feel bad and doesn’t teach them how to do it better. When people make a mistake, be a coach, not a critic by using the words “in the future” to shape their behavior instead of shame it. Focusing on what they can do “from now on” helps them learn instead of lose face and they’re a lot more likely to do things differently “next time.”

Tongue Fu!®Tip #6: “What can I do if someone’s teasing me?”

Develop a repertoire of Fun Fu! remarks. Erma Bombeck (bless her soul) said, “If we can laugh at it, we can live with it.” Are you sensitive about something? Perhaps you’ve put on a few pounds. You have a choice. You can be hyper-sensitive about this and give people the power to embarrass you, or you can come up with clever, non-combative comebacks and keep your wit(s) about you.

Want an example? I ran into a very tall man in an airport. The people in front of me were laughing and pointing at him. I thought, “How rude!” Then he got closer and I could see his t-shirt which said, “No, I’m not a basketball player!” The back of his shirt said, “Are you a jockey?” This man told me he used to dread going out of the house because everyone made smart-aleck remarks. He finally decided if he couldn’t beat ‘em, he might as well join ‘em. “This is nothing,” he said with a smile, “I have a drawer full of these shirts at home. My favorite says ‘I’m 6’13” and the weather up here’s fine.’ Ever since I started wearing these shirts,” he added, “I’ve had fun with my height instead of being frustrated by my height.” Fun Fu! responses can help you lighten up instead of tighten up so no one has the power to get under your skin or knock you off balance.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #7: “What if I have to tell someone no?”

Turn “NO, you can’t because” into “YES, you can, as soon as.”

Imagine a staff member asks, “Can I have my paycheck early? I’m going on a trip this weekend” and you answer, “No you can’t have your paycheck because it hasn’t been approved by payroll.” That’s the truth, however people will get upset because they feel you’re brushing them off.. The words “can’t because” are like a verbal door slamming in their face. Want good news? You can often approve requests with the words, “Sure you can, as soon as” or “Yes you can, right after.” Re-word your reply to, “Yes, you can have your paycheck, as soon as it’s approved by payroll. Why don’t we give them a call, explain the circumstances and see if there’s any way they can speed things up.” One manager said, “I can’t wait to use this idea at home. My kids see me as a ‘big meanie’ because I’m always telling them ‘no.’ Next time they ask if they can go outside and play with their friends, instead of saying, ‘No you can’t, because you haven’t done your homework,’ I’m going to say, ‘Sure you can, as soon as you finish your homework.’ Instead of seeing me as the one blocking what they want, this makes them responsible for getting what they want. It changes the whole dynamic of our relationship.”

Have these been helpful? Want more ways to keep your cool – even when other people aren’t? Want to know how to handle tough questions in media interviews, town halls and in presentations?

Check out Tongue Fu!®and Tongue Fu! at School.

Are you thinking, “I’ve tried these win-win approaches and they work with most people. However, there’s ONE person in my life who ignores all this.”

You may be dealing with a bully. Check out my Never Be Bullied Again video and take this quiz to see if you’re dealing with what I call a 5%er. If so, the tips in my Bully books can keep that person from mistreating you and ruining your quality of life.

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Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create mutually-respectful communications. Her work- including POP!, Tongue Fu!, Take the Bully by the Horns and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and on NPR and MSNBC and presented to clients as diverse as National Geographic, Four Seasons Resorts, Capital One, Accenture, Boeing and Cisco.

want to deal with difficult people

Want People to Listen? Never TELL Them What You’re Going to Tell Them

“People don’t want information; they want epiphanies.” – Sam Horn people don't want info want epiphanies

Have you been taught to open communications by “telling people what you’re going to tell them, telling them and then telling them what you told them?” That’s badvice. In today’s world of short attention spans (goldfish have longer attention spans than we do!) telling people what we’re going to tell them makes us a bore, snore or chore.

I was working with a client on her TEDx talk and she was telling me about the information she wanted to get across. I told her that TED talks are NOT about dispensing information; they’re about facilitating epiphanies. What is the SHIFT people are going to make as a result of her presentation? What will they be motivated to change or do differently as a result of her insights?

How about you? Where will you be giving a presentation, making a request, proposing an idea or teaching someone this week?

Want a better way to motivate people to listen? Want to facilitate epiphanies and motivate people to do something differently instead of simply deliver information?

Imagine you’ve been asked to speak to college grads about how to land a job. You could start with a laundry list of your credentials; however, they probably read your bio in the program brochure, so that’s a waste of their time.

You could jump right into your how-to instructions on how to craft better resumes and job applications, but that doesn’t engage an audience because it’s still a one-way lecture, and chances are they’ve heard or read those tips before.

A better way to EARN people’s favorable attention is to create a DIALOGUE by introducing something startlingly relevant … in the first 60 seconds. The goal is to get everyone’s eyebrows up by asking if they’re aware of these surprising insights about the issue you’re addressing. The goal is for them to be thinking, “Really?! I had no idea it was that bad, that much, that little. For example:

Did you know that:

* of the 3.6 million job openings last year, 80 % were never advertised?

* 118 people (on average) apply for any given job yet only 20% get interviews?

* 53.6% of bachelor degree holders under 25 are jobless or under-employed?

Imagine if you could:

* Find out about quality jobs that are never advertised?

* Increase the likelihood of getting a job interview this week?

* Discover 7 unique yet proven ways to stand out from the crowd and give yourself a competitive edge in today’s crowded job market?

You don’t have to imagine it. You’ll discover how to do all the above in our time together, and you’ll hear true success stories of grads just like you who had almost given up but instead landed their dream job as a result of using these techniques.

Isn’t that more interesting and engaging than simply giving people an overview of what you’re going to cover?

What’s a situation you’ve got coming up where you’ll be teaching someone, proposing something, or giving a report? You could start out with a predictable opening and lose them at hello – or you could pleasantly surprise them by starting with something that gets their eyebrows up (a sure sign of curiosity). Here’s how you can do the latter.

Sam Horn’s Three Steps to Crafting a 60 Second Opening that Has People at Hello

1. Open with 3 questions that introduce startling statistics or facts your listeners don’t know – but would like to know – about the:

* Scope of the problem you’re solving.

* Urgency of the issue you’re addressing.

* Dramatic shift in the trend or topic you’re discussing.

Are you thinking, “Where do I find these startling statistics or surprising facts?

You GTS – GOOGLE THAT STUFF. Just enter the following questions into your favorite search engine:

* What are shocking statistics about ____________ (your subject?)

* What are changing trends in ________ (your industry or profession?)

* What is recent research about _____ (the problem you’re solving?)

* What is startling news about _____ (the issue you’re addressing?)

Up will come insights and studies even YOU didn’t know about. And if you’re an expert, and this info gets your eyebrows up (a sure sign of curiosity) it’s likely to get your audience’s eyebrows up too.

2. Use the word IMAGINE linked with 3 aspects/benefits of your program that everyone in your audience would find appealing.

* The word IMAGINE causes people to picture your point and see what you’re saying. They’re now fully engaged instead of thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch.

* By verbally painting the ideal scenario your program delvers; everyone is on the edge of their mental seat eager to hear more because they’re thinking, “Sounds good. Who wouldn’t want that?!”

3. Say, “You don’t have to imagine it…” and then offer real-world evidence showing how your program has already produced tangible results so audience members know this isn’t “too good to be true;” they can trust it (and you) because it has a successful track record and has helped people just like them get the results they want.

Best yet, all the above can be condensed into a succinct 60 second opening.

While other presenters are still telling their audience what they’re going to tell them (aka blah-blah-blah INFObesity) – you’ve already set up a two-way dialogue by asking and engaging instead of telling and selling. You’re earned everyone’s favorable attention because you’ve facilitating epiphanies vs. delivering information. Everyone in the room is smarter than they were a moment before … which means they’ll want to keep listening because you just proved you’ll be worth their valuable time, mind and dime.

Want more ways to craft intros that have people at hello? Watch this TEDx talk which both models and teaches my 60 second approach to openings. You also might want to check out this related article which shows why NEVER to give an elevator speech.

– – – –

Sam Horn is on a mission to help people create more compelling, collaborative communications that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books – including POP!, Tongue Fu!, IDEApreneur and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and Fast Company and presented to NASA, Accenture, ASAE and National Geographic. Want Sam to present at your next convention? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAggency.com

Waiting for Your Ship to Come In?

I was in California recently to speak for the Central Coast Writers Conference. The day before my presentations, I headed to Morro Rock for an early morning walk.

As I explored the waterfront, watching the playful otters float and nurse their babies on their belly, I noticed some people gathered on the shore, eagerly gazing out toward the mouth of the bay. Curious, I walked over and asked, “What’s going on?”

The man closest to me said, “Oh, the San Salvador is arriving this morning.”

san-salvadore

“What’s the San Salvador?”

“It’s a fully-rigged replica of the Spanish galleon – Cabrillo’s flag ship – that discovered California. It should be here any minute.”

What an serendipitous discovery. To put this into context, every morning I listen to Colin Hay’s “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin” with its haunting lyrics about how many of us wait for our ship to come in. It’s a way to remind myself THIS is my real life and it’s up to me to create what I want – not wait for it to show up.

So, I walked to the point, peering through what the locals like to call a “marine layer” for my first glimpse of the ship. There it was emerging from the fog. A magnificent sight. I laughed as this thought occurred, “My ship just came in!”

This story doesn’t stop there. In fact, it just keeps getting better and better.

The next day I closed my conference keynote with the story of that special moment watching the San Salvador sail into the harbor. I added though that:

“Writers don’t wait for their ship to come in; they write their way out to it.

In fact, entrepreneurs – and writers are creative entrepreneurs – launch their ship. At their core, they’re designed and destined to explore. They set sail with their ideas and stories. They do not wait for perfect conditions. They know the value is in the voyage. They understand discoveries don’t happen in inertia. Setting a vision in motion is what makes it tangible which is where you reap the rewards. Writers understand it’s crucial to maintain confidence in their creative venture. Their role, their responsibility, is to launch … always to launch.”

Well, as soon as I launched that story, rewards started showing up.

A woman came up after my keynote and said, “Sam, my brother in law is actually in charge of the San Salvador Project. I’m sure he’d be glad to give you a tour.” Which is how I found myself interviewing Captain Ray Ashley below decks on the San Salvador the following day.

I hope you’re ready, because you cannot make up the stuff you’re about to read. You know what I’ve learned about stories? Fact is more fascinating than fiction.

What Captain Ray Ashley told me is a quintessential example of what can happen when we get an idea – and the facts indicate this can’t work and the finances aren’t there – but we choose to launch anyway.

This true story proves that if we keep the faith that what we’re trying to build is worthwhile – mini-miracles can unfold if we set our project in motion and give community an opportunity to jump onboard.

Here’s what happened.

The San Diego Maritime Museum originated the idea of creating the San Salvador and asked Ray to head up the project. Ray told me, “As a historian, I know it’s important for origin stories to be associated with a physical object. As soon you turn something conceptual into something concrete (think European immigration to America and the Mayflower); people are more likely to relate to it.

So, we thought the discovery of California (by the Spanish, multiple Native American tribes already lived here) would become even more ‘real’ and relevant if we built a working replica of the ship people could see, touch and walk on.”

The only problem? Their research estimated it would cost $6.2 million to build the ship. The entire annual operating budget of the San Diego Maritime Museum was $4.6 million. So, on paper, the facts and finances didn’t add up. Logically, it didn’t make sense to launch the project.

Thankfully, Ray said, the people in San Diego believed this project was worth doing and the project was approved. It was partially due to that incredibly supportive community that the project team made a crucial decision that directly led to the success of their venture.

They decided to build the ship in PUBLIC instead of in PRIVATE.

Ray told me, “If you operate in isolation, if you’re the only one providing the energy, ideas and vision; sometimes that’s not enough. But if you construct a project in public, well, people see what you’re doing and want to get on board. They’re eager to be part of something they can be proud of.

We arranged for the San Salvador to be built in plain sight, right next to a busy freeway. Within weeks, we had 50 volunteers showing up every single day.

These were ‘lay-people’ saying, ‘Put me to work. How can I help?’ and skilled craftsmen – nuclear physicists, shipwrights, architects – offering their years of valuable experience and expertise.

It was a blessing to have such an incredible team of individuals dedicated to making the project a success. And we needed those volunteers because they helped us persevere through one obstacle after another.

For example, our research showed there was only one wood strong enough and dense enough to carry the weight of this ship, and that was white oak.

The challenge is, there’s not much white oak left. We finally found a supplier and, imagine this, bought up the entire world’s supply of white oak.

Now, no tree grows in the shape of a ship. It took us months to mill the wood into the curves of the hull and sides. When that was done, we applied epoxy to about half the wood to make it waterproof. The only problem was, the epoxy was contaminated. Within 48 hours, the wood had started to curl and rot and was basically unusable. As you can imagine, we were devastated.

Thank heaven for the volunteers. When we told them what happened, one said, “You know, you should call this guy Jim who’s kind of an expert on living oak. It’s not white oak, but it’s close. You never know. Might as well check it out.”

Ray contacted Jim, and sure enough, living oak used to be protected but now it’s overgrown and Jim was able to supply them with enough wood to meet their needs … at a price they could afford.

Good news, right? Yes, but it was only a matter of time before they ran into another seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

It was time to embed lead into the hull to provide the necessary ballast, but the price of lead had skyrocketed and they could no longer afford it. So, they launched a creative “Get the Lead Out” campaign and invited people to donate any lead they might have lying around.

Ray said, “People were coming in with their fish weights, etc. We really appreciated what they were doing, but it would take decades to accumulate the amount of lead we needed, a few ounces at a time.

We felt we had run into a dead-end. Once again, our volunteers saved the day. One said, ‘You know, I used to work for this contractor out in the valley that went out of business. I think they used lead for some of their projects. Maybe they still have some left on their property.’

Captain Ray got in touch and explained his situation to the executive. He said, “Well, let me look around and I’ll get back to you.”

The next day he calls Ray and says, “How much lead do you need?”

Ray says, “180,000 pounds.” The guy chuckles and says, “Well, I’ve got 190,000 pounds of lead and you can have it all.”

Fast forward. The ship is almost ready to launch. The challenge now is they have to get this heavy ship from the boatyard across the highway into the water. The problem is, they’re almost out of money and can’t afford to build what will need to be a steel bridge with rollers to transfer the ship.

Once again, their volunteers come to the rescue.

One says, “Well, I have a colleague who owns a home-moving business. I don’t know if he can help but he definitely knows a lot about transporting heavy objects from one place to another. Why don’t you give him a call?”

To make a long story somewhat less long, suffice it to say, this individual had wanted to upgrade his capacity to move heavy equipment like cranes, so he offered to build the steel bridge for the San Salvador – for free – so he could offer this option to his future clients. Another “insurmountable” obstacle surmounted.

If you’ve ever built something, you know that every contractor uses an operational formula called the TCQ – Time, Cost, Quality – Triangle.

Essentially, it states that if you are willing to pay more money, you can increase quality and reduce time. If you don’t have much money, you may have to cut corners on quality. If you take more time, you can increase quality, but it will also increase costs. These three factors are always interacting, always in play.

However, one rule that is almost sacrosanct in the contracting-building-construction-project management industry is that the longer it takes to build something, the more it’s going to cost.

Guess what?

The San Salvador took three times longer than anticipated to build – and came in only a little over its original budget.

How can that be??

Well, I told Captain Ray I think he and the San Salvador team added a side to the TCQ triangle and turned it into a TCQC rectangle.

captain-ray-ashley

I think they proved that if you go public with your venture, if you ask for help and give people ways to contribute – they can actually reduce costs because they’re using their six-degrees-of-separation to connect you with people who can supply your provisions, remove your obstacles and solve your problems.

The San Salvador team demonstrated the mini-miracles that emerge when we build projects with a TCQC – Time Cost Quality Community – Rectangle.

When you involve your community, they bring so much to the table in terms of experience, expertise, energy and strategic alliances, you ultimately reduce costs and time. Perhaps more importantly, you improve the quality of the experience for everyone involved and you scale the reach and positive impact of your venture.

When I visited Captain Ray that day in Morro Bay, there were lines of an hour or two to tour the San Salvador. People had traveled from around the country to see, touch and walk around the ship.

Ray said, “That was our vision and it’s enormously rewarding to see it come true. We gave donors and volunteers an opportunity to hammer their initials into the keel. We’ve had dozens of families show up where the dad or mom or grandparent proudly pointed out the part of the ship they worked on.

They feel like they’re part of the story. They love telling the story of the ship they ‘helped build.’ They’re so proud to be able to put their hands on something they helped bring into being.”

As I wrapped up my time with Ray, I couldn’t help but reflect on the many ways the San Salvador project is a perfect metaphor for my Year by the Water project.

I too launched a venture when the “numbers” weren’t there. I didn’t have a financial sponsor for this trip. If I had focused only on the logical aspects of this venture, (e.g., “Give away 95% of what I own? Set off into the unknown?!”) it didn’t add up, didn’t make sense … on the surface.

But deep down, I knew this was important, what I wanted to do. I too wanted to explore our magnificent country. I too wanted to travel on and visit bodies of water. I too had faith this project would be meaningful for me and others. I too had to maintain my confidence this venture was worth doing – even when there were no guarantees.

I too went public and experienced an outpouring of support. I received gracious emails from my community saying, “Come to this lake where Helen Keller said her first word, ‘Water.” “I live near Walden’s Pond, come visit me.” “You can stay in our vacation home on Chesapeake Bay.” “Hang out on my houseboat in Sausalito.” “I have a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cabin in Pt. Reyes National Seashore. You can write there.”

And I’m here to tell you, a year after launching my “ship,” that the secret sauce of a successful project is indeed … COMMUNITY.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed the many places I’ve had the opportunity to experience. Yet it’s the people I’ve connected with who have made this adventure even more meaningful, even more of a QUALITY experience in every sense of the word.

How about you? What is the project you want to build, the creative venture you want to launch, the dream you want to achieve?

If you juxtapose it, if you put a vertical line down the center of a piece of paper, there may be some fears on the left side. Maybe the numbers don’t add up. If you consider only the facts, figures, left-brain logic, it may not “make sense” to head off into the unknown where there are no guarantees. As long as you stay focused on the left-side of the ledger, your project will stay in the boatyard.

However, if you switch over to the right side of the ledger and focus on your faith that this creative project has value, your belief this adventure is worth doing, the meaning it might have for you and others… it will help give you the confidence and courage to set your creative vision in motion.

When you do launch your dream project, be sure to take it public. Tell people what you’re doing. Share your vision. Invite their input. Ask for their contributions. Enlisting your community adds an all-important ingredient to the equation.

A project that may have been unfeasible because it was dependent on the TCQ Triangle is now feasible because you’re adding the secret sauce of community.

You have just exponentially increased your odds of success because you won’t be operating in isolation, you won’t just be doing this for and by yourself.

You will have a TCQC _ Time Cost Quality Community Rectangle that is leveraging a group of people who are doing everything in their power to help you move your project forward because they are invested in its success.

And isn’t that what we want? Not just a meaningful and productive life where we’re fulfilling our SerenDestiny and the light is on in our eyes, but to have the privilege and opportunity to share what we care about with other people who care about the same things.

What is it you want to do? Don’t just follow that dream; LAUNCH it.

dont-just-follow-your-dreams-launch-them

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Sam Horn, Founder and CEO of the INTRIGUE AGENCY, helps people create respectful, collaborative one-of-a-kind communications and projects that add value for all involved. Her inspiring TEDx talk and keynotes receive rave reviews from such clients as National Geographic, Intel, Cisco, Capital One, NASA, Accenture and Boeing. Her work – including POP!, Tongue Fu!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company and NPR and MSNBC.

Want more ways to lead a creatively productive life? Check out Sam’s inspiring Year by the Water updates at her site on SERENDESTINY

LeadHERship: Position Yourself for Pay Raises, Projects and Promotions

“Anyone who waits for recognition is criminally naïve.” – Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Years ago, I had an opportunity to speak for the women’s leadership program for a well-known Silicon Valley company. My session was on Personal Branding, in particular how the women in this male-dominated company and industry could be more pro-active about fulfilling their potential; earning the respect they want, need and deserve; and positioning themselves for pay raises, promotions, projects and positions.

I had an opportunity to interview one of their senior executives to get his input on what I could cover in my presentation to make it maximally timely, relevant and useful. He shared an insightful story about how some women sabotage themselves when it comes to maintaining the visibility necessary to be considered for career advancement.

He said, “Sam, I try to be a champion for women, but sometimes they don’t help themselves.”

I asked, “What’s an example?”

He said, “Last year, we opened an office in Paris. A woman in my department had lived in France as a foreign exchange student and speaks French fluently. I thought she would be a real addition to our team there so I threw her hat in the ring when we were discussing possible staff selections.

The other executives at the table just looked at me with puzzled expressions. No one knew who she was. I went to bat for her and tried to explain why I thought she could help us ramp up this new location.

One of my colleagues finally recognized her name. He said, “Okay, I know who you’re talking about now. She’s sat in on some of my meetings. But she never says anything.’

She ended up NOT getting that position, and it wasn’t because she didn’t deserve it or wouldn’t have done a good job. It was because those decision-makers hadn’t witnessed her adding value and weren’t willing to take a risk on someone they didn’t know.”

I asked, “Did you talk to her about this missed opportunity?”

“I did. And when I asked why she didn’t speak up in those meetings, she said, ‘I tried to, but everyone just talked over me. I suggested a way to streamline some of our procedures, but no one listened. In fact, a few minutes later one of the men said pretty much the same thing and everyone went, ‘Great idea!’ I finally just gave up.’

I told her, ‘Don’t you realize, if you don’t say anything at meetings, you make no mark? The people there conclude you don’t have anything to contribute.”

I shared his input during my presentation and suggested several ways women could speak up at meetings so participants experience them adding value and have first-hand evidence of their LeadHership ability. Here are those six tips.

Six Ways to Add Value at Meetings so People Experience your LeadHership

1. Promise yourself you’ll contribute at least one ACTION-oriented suggestion at every meeting. Notice, I did not say an opinion, I said an action. Instead of simply sharing what you think or feel, contribute specific options of what can be done to move a project forward, turn an idea into reality, or achieve a company objective.

2. Never point about what’s not working – unless you immediately follow up with how this could be replaced with something more efficient and effective. In other words, instead of focusing on a problem and what’s wrong, focus on a solution and how this can be done right.

3. Do not defer compliments, graciously honor them. If someone praises you, instead of saying, “It was nothing.” or “My team deserves the credit.” say “Thank you. Your feedback means a lot.” Then, add a detail, e.g., “Our goal was to exceed our sales quota this quarter, so we identified three high-profile clients, reached out to them, and we’re pleased to land three new major accounts.” Then, talk about your next goal or upcoming initiative so people are aware of how you’re continuing to add value.

4. Keep your comments to two minutes or less. No one likes a windbag. Richard Branson said, “Time is the new money.” In today’s rush-rush, impatient world of INFObesity, time is the new TRUST. By keeping your remarks succinct, purposeful, pro-active and to the point, people will always want to hear what you say because you’re always a good use of their time and mind.

5. If someone interrupts, speak up instead of suffering in silence as they talk over you. Look at the person, use his or her name, and say, “Mark, let me finish” or “Elizabeth, I want to hear what you have to say right after I wrap up my report,” or “Bev, one more minute and then it’s your turn.” Then, be brief, but conclude your remarks. You’re not being rude, just clear and confident that you have the right to speak.

6. SIT TALL. If you slouch, tuck your chin in, or use a tentative, high-pitched voice, people will doubt your clout. Instead, roll your shoulders up and back and sit up straight. Think “Tower, don’t cower.” Speak with a warm, firm, lower-pitched voice of authority that projects so every single person can hear every single word.

A program participant chased me down in the parking lot after that Silicon Valley talk to thank me.

She said, “Sam, I was on the verge of quitting this company. I wasn’t getting credit for all my hard work and overtime, and I’d become really resentful. I’ve been putting out fires, saving the day, and no one seemed to notice or care. You helped me realize that I can’t blame my boss for not giving me the recognition I think I deserve if I’m not giving him evidence of all the ways I’m making a difference for our clients and company.”

Her feedback made my day because it reinforced the premise of my LeadHership program. It is idealistic and unrealistic to expect organizational decision-makers to know all the ways we’re contributing and to initiate on our behalf. They’ve got enough on their plate without taking responsibility for our career advancement.

It’s up to us to, diplomatically, give organizational decision-makers evidence of how we’re contributing so they experience our LeadHership first-hand. Only then will they be motivated to give us the promotions, positions, projects and pay raises we deserve. Only then will they know we’re “up to the task” and can be trusted to add tangible, real-world value because they’ve personally experienced us doing just that.

The career ball is in your court. How will you be a LeadHer at your next meeting?

– – – –

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is the author of Tongue Fu!, What’s Holding You Back? and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? Her work has been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC, NPR and MSNBC. Want Sam to inspire your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to discuss your goals and ask how Sam can contribute to the success of your professional women’s group or event.

Start with a Story

A new client told me, “I don’t have any stories.” I told her, “We ALL have stories. Stories are simply the intriguing things that happen to or around us.”
stories-are-simply-the-intriguing-things

She came back with, “But I wouldn’t know how to tell a story even if I had one.”

I promised to share this post which shows how to notice and collect real-life stories and re-enact them so they come alive. First, I’ll start with a story.

Several summers ago, I realized how sedentary I’d become. Like many Americans, I spend 12 hours a DAY sitting and it had taken a toll on my health.

I decided to change things up. I lived on a lake outside Washington DC in a community with 20 public pools. I vowed to swim four times a week and to visit every single one of the pools in my neighborhood by Labor Day weekend.

One sunny afternoon, after a long day of writing, I decided it was time to get up and get moving. I jumped in my van and went “pool shopping.” I noticed a new pool I hadn’t tried before tucked under some shade trees, parked and went in.

As soon as I walked in, I realized I’d found the “family” pool. The place was packed with kids playing Marco Polo and featured one of those mushroom-shaped fountains in the wading pool. It did my heart good to know kids still play Marco Polo.

I found a chaise lounge next to a woman watching her three young kids. Just then, a man wearing a business suit walked in. The three kids bounded out of the pool and ran to meet him, calling out “Daddy, Daddy.”

He hugged them, gave his wife a peck on the cheek and headed to the locker room to change into his swim trunks. Moments later, he was in the pool with his kids. They were diving off his shoulders and proudly showing him the strokes they’d learned in their swim lessons. It was a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

All of a sudden, he paused, looked up at his wife almost in a state of wonderment and said, “Hon, why don’t we make this our default? Why don’t we meet at the pool every night after work?”

I have to admit, I held my breath. I looked at her, thinking, “Please say yes.”

She thought about it for a moment, nodded and said simply, “Why don’t we?”

In five seconds, they abandoned an old default and adopted a new one. Instead of, “Get up, go to work, come home;” it was now “Get up, go to work, go to the pool, come home.”

Who knows, that family may always remember that summer as the one they met Dad at the pool every night after work. Perhaps I”m being a Pollyanna about this, but maybe they will remember that summer as the one everything was right with their world.

So, what’s this got to do with you? Imagine you’re giving a presentation about changing habits. Or you’re talking to your team about the dangers of sitting for hours at at a time, all day, every day.

You could start by sharing research that explains how difficult it is to adopt new habits. You could begin with a study that reveals sitting is considered the “cigarettes of our era” in terms of how hazardous it is to our health.

Or you could start off with a story SHOWING how someone changed a habit that lead to a more positive, productive, proactive life. You could start off with a real-life example of someone who, in seconds, replaced an old default with a new default that immediately benefited them and everyone involved.

Which do you think will be more effective?

In today’s world of INFObesity (information that comes across as blah-blah-blah) people are more likely to relate to and remember real-life stories that show vs. tell.

Are you thinking, “But I don’t have any stories.” or “I’m not good at telling stories?”The good news? Remember, stories are simply the intriguing things that happen to you and around you.

Ask yourself, “What point do I want to make in my presentation or in this meeting?” Or, “What is the SHIFT I want my listeners, readers, employees to make?” Then ask yourself, ‘Where have I seen someone DO that, LEARN that, EXPERIENCE that at work, at home or in my community?”

Now, all you have to make that story come alive is to “put people in the S.C.E.N.E” by re-creating what was said and done. Re-enact that experience with these five tips so people feel it’s happening to or around them, right now.

The key to making a story believable and relatable is not to make it up. it’s to re-enact something that actually happened so people trust it and you.

When you put people in the S.C.E.N.E., you’re not “telling a story,” (which some skeptics may suspect you got off the internet); you’re sharing a real-life example that shows what you’re suggesting has worked for others – and how it can work for everyone listening and reading too.

TIPS FOR SHARING A STORY BY PUTTING PEOPLE IN THE S.C.E.N.E.

S = SENSORY DETAIL: Describe the time, place and location with just enough vivid sensory detail so we feel like we’re standing or sitting right next to you. Describe what it looked like – maybe even what it smelled like, tasted like, felt like, sounded like – so we’re seeing it in our mind’s eye.

C = CHARACTERS: Who is in the scene? Describe the individuals involved so we can picture them and so we know their MOOD. Are they busy, frazzled and stressed? Happy? Angry? Excited? What’s his/his name? If you want us to CARE about your CAREacters, flesh them out so we feel we know them.

E = EXPERIENCE IT: Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I think, “No epiphany in the speaker, no epiphany in the listener.” This may be the hundredth time you’ve told this story, but if you mentally put yourself back in the scene, re-experience it as if it’s the first time, and re-enact it as if it’s happening NOW, you will feel what you felt then – and we will too.

N =NARRATIVE: Why can we read novels for hours at a time and it’s not hard work? It’s because authors use narrative – e.g., “He said, She said” – so we feel we’re right in the middle of the conversation. Simple said, narrative is a non-negotiable if you want your story to come alive. Include who said what with comma/quotes “(i.e., “He said, “Why don’t we change our default.” She said, ”Why don’t we?.”) so your story is organic, original and REAL.

E = EPIPHANY: What is the lesson-learned, the happy ending, the problem that was solved, the shift that occurred, the aha where the light comes on, the band plays and it all makes sense? Every story needs a “moral of the story” so it achieves a purpose and the audience gets the point. What’s yours?

A mantra of the speaking profession used to be, “Make a point, tell a story.” That advice is outdated. In these days of short-attention-spans and INFObesity, if you take too long to make your point, people will never make it to the story.

As John Steinbeck said, “If there’s magic in story-telling, and I’m convinced there is, the formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge to convey something you feel is important.”

If you START WITH A STORY and put people in the S.C.E.N.E of a true experience that’s important to you and that illustrates your idea … it will eloquently make your point for you.

Better yet, if you relive that experience in your mind and vividly remember what it felt like, your audience will feel what you felt. That is connection, and that is the point of all communication … to connect, always to connect.

– – – –

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create respectful, one-of-a-kind communications that add value for all involved. Her work – including IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been featured on NPR and in New York Times and presented to National Geographic, Boeing, Cisco, Capital One.

Creative Projects in Your Head Help No One: 36 Quotes to Inspire You to FINISH What You Start

“One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any time left to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” – Paulo Coelho.

When people tell me they’re thinking about staring a creative project, I tell them, “Creative projects in your head help no one.”

Have you ever thought of it that way? If you have ideas, stories, skills or talents that would benefit others; it’s almost selfish to keep them to yourself.

Sharing your creative work doesn’t come from arrogance, it comes from service.  It’s an offering, a way of saying “Here’s something I think, feel, believe, see or have experienced. I hope it might be of interest and value to you.”

Yet, many people start with the best of intentions and then life intervenes. They get distracted, busy, overwhelmed, tired.

They put their creative project aside to deal with other priorities – and never get back to it. That’s a path to regrets.

Are you procrastinating, waiting for more time?

Face it. You’ll never have more time than you have right now.  If you want results … carve out ten minutes a day to move your creative project forward.

Select one of these quotes that resonates with you and post it where you’ll see it every morning (your bathroom mirror?)  It will help keep your good intentions IN SIGHT – IN MIND instead of allowing them to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

  1. “If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter
  2. “Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” – Twyla Tharp
  4. “When asked the secret to finishing his 500-page masterpiece The Power of One, author Bryce Courtenay growled, “Bum glue!”
  5. “Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage … and you need to jump into it.” – Julia Cameron
  6.  “At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results.” – aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager  
  7. “If my doctor told me I had only 6 months to live, I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov
  8. “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” – Sue Grafton
  9. “Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle
  10. “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” – Peter DeVriesqu
  11. “If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” – Steven Pressfield
  12. “I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” – Steve Martin
  13. “I made a startling discovery. Time spent writing = output of work. Amazing.” – Ann Pachett
  14. “Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
  15. “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” Christopher Parker
  16.  “It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer  
  17. “If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes
  18. “The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein
  19. “Best advice on writing I’ve ever received. Finish.” – Peter Mayle
  20. “If you want to be certain, you should never get married, change jobs or attempt anything creative. In fact, you might as well just stay home. Because I don’t know anybody who is certain. That need to be certain is just procrastination.” – Mark Burnett
  21. “When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” – Anne Sexton
  22. “You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein
  23. “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” – Erica Jong
  24. “Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line.” – Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson
  25. “The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler
  26. “When you speak, your words echo across the room. When you write, your words echo across the ages.” – Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul author Bud Gardner
  27.  “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso
  28.   
  29. “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind has to know it has to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck
  30.  “Planning to write is not writing.  Writing is writing.” – E. L. Doctorow
  31. “Time is the only coin of your life.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandberg
  32. “I think the worst, most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will be looking for some bit of fact to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.” – James Rollins
  33. “There’s a trick I’m going to share with you.  I learned it almost twenty years ago and I’ve never forgotten it … so pay attention.  Don’t begin at the beginning.” – Lawrence Block
  34.  “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.  You wait and watch and work and write; you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott
  35. “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
  36. “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May        Author John Kotter said, “Do you know the #1 precursor to change?  A sense of urgency.”  It’s time to feel a sense of urgency about getting your ideas out in the world. What’s the story you’re born to tell? The knowledge you’d like to pass along?  The legacy message that could inspire others?  The time to share it is NOW.  Promise yourself you’ll sit down somewhere, sometime each day and take ten minutes to move your project forward. You will never regret getting your creative projects into the world. You will only regret not getting them out there … sooner.  As my mom used to tell me, “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”        -   –   –   –   –   -

SAM HORN, CEO of the INTRIGUE AGENCY, TEDx speaker and 17-time Emcee of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, helps people create one-of-a-kind projects – businesses, books, presentations, funding pitches –  that scale their influence for good.  Her work – including IDEApreneur, POP!, Tongue Fu!  andWashington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been endorsed by Stephen Covey, Dan Pink, Tony Robbins, Marshall Goldsmith and featured in Fast Company, New York Times, Forbes, INC.  Her inspiring keynotes receive rave reviews from NASA, Intel, Cisco, Accenture, National Geographic, EO, Four Seasons Resorts and Capital One.