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December 2009
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February 2010

For the Love of Words - How to Use Yours Effectively

“Words, words, words; I’m so sick of words,” were the lyrics sung by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, which I watched on AMC not too long ago.  Her disdain was in sharp contrast with Professor Higgins’ obsessive love of words.  This got me thinking about my lifelong love affair with words and the responsibility that comes along with that.   

I recently saw motivational speaker and author Les Brown address a group of businesswomen.  Les skillfully speaks in quotable sound bites and uses words better than many for inspiring people to take action in their own lives.  What he had to say about using your words effectively was this, “Never let what you want to say get in the way of what they need to hear.”   

Bravo.   Wordspic

A recent discussion thread on one of the Linkedin groups stemmed from the question, “What 3 words best describe you?”  The answers were many and ran the gamut from serious to professional to comical to advertorial to informative.  Actually they were all informative to a point, giving a small glimpse into the character of the person posting the words.  In this arena, words can label.  

It also got me thinking about the infinite and palpable power of words and how as human beings – the only animal given the gift of spoken and written language – we have an inordinate responsibility to use our words to their greatest effect.  Words can maim someone’s spirit, inspire people into action, teach a life lesson, increase the value of a person, place or thing, encourage, discourage, make people laugh, cry or pause, fire people, hire people or make someone’s day.   

If that’s not responsibility I don’t know what is.   This is why I’m in the midst of a lifelong love affair with words.   

Here’s how you can use your words more effectively:  

  • Think before you speak – take a pause and realize the effect your words may have
  • Be impeccable with your word – the first of the “The Four Agreements” written by Don Miguel Ruiz who said, “Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Use the power of your word to the direction of truth…”
  • Don’t project your issues on others – own your own crap by not using hurtful words to make your problems someone else’s
  • Ask questions – show an interest by being honestly inquisitive in people and situations
  • Remember and use people’s names – it’s a simple recognition that raises the level of connection between you and others
  • Communicate, don’t alienate – kind directness gets much greater result than spite

 A recent CBS piece on Winston Churchill really brought this home for me.  His passion for words is exquisitely recorded in the 44 books he wrote, which include his many eloquent speeches.  He wasn’t only a thought leader but a thought changer with his words.  The fact that his 1953 Nobel Prize was for literature merely solidifies his standing as, arguably, one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time.   

Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. 

Go Winston.  Words to live by.  


Top 25 Representatives in Hollywood for 2009

It's always fascinating to examine the biggest power mongers in any industry.  I'm particularly intrigued by Hollywood.  These top agents and managers wield of TON of the stuff.  These people control a huge percentage of the decisions that result in either green lighted projects or dead ended dreams. 

Here's the latest newsletter on http://whorepresents.com. Follow the link to read the rest of the article.  They're all listed!

"To measure a talent rep's achievements, look no further than the deals he or she has made. Our first-ever Top 25 gives the insider's perspective on who made the best deals on behalf of their clients over the past twelve months. Whether negotiating a multi-picture contract, or working to bolster an entire company in a volatile market, the measures taken by the representatives on this list have been bold, inventive and profitable..."

Read the rest HERE



5 Ways to Set Your GPS for Success

One event that never fails to happen when visiting my parents, naturally happened again over the holidays.  It’s an event that causes chuckles and shushes from the backseat of the car as Mom and Dad yet again try and conquer the map directions in the front seat, with Dad driving and Mom navigating.  And, I use both verbs loosely because no matter who is behind the wheel, they both “drive” and they both “navigate,” equally and at the same time.  And, to add hilarity to the situation, last year they bought a GPS navigation system, named her Gertrude and figured “she” would bring peace and harmony to their journeys because Gertrude would carry the navigation burden.  But, no!  Somehow they found a way to second guess Gertrude as they settled back into their tug of war bliss.  I say bliss because my parents have been happily married for 50 years and these self-imposed front seat Bickersons are a part of their dance.  It’s hard to imagine going anywhere with them, without being an amused witness to it.   Oh, and in the end, lovely, consistent Gertrude hardly ever steers them wrong!  GPS_Navigation_System

It got me thinking about clear goal-setting in terms of a GPS system.  When you set a goal it’s like plugging the destination coordinates into your GPS, and then the map will guide you along on the most direct and uncomplicated route.  Your “map” is made up of the plans you make and the steps you take to hit your goal.  And, what’s so compelling about the entire GPS idea is that when you get off course or stop for gas, or take a detour, your reliable GPS system recalibrates and sets you back on track toward your destination. 

It’s a wonder how smart those little buggers are, from telling you not only your speed but the current speed limit, to giving you the temperature, to giving you an estimated time of arrival. 

Smart!  

Keep this in mind as you assert smart goal-setting this year:   

  • Determine a main goal for each area of your life: career, health, relationship, and spiritual.  
  • Give yourself a deadline, putting the date on your calendar. The more specific you are about writing down your goals the more realistic and REAL they become.  And, give yourself a true and reachable deadline, yet allow yourself to stretch beyond your current boundaries.   
  • Now break each end objective down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.  When you figure backwards from the end destination it makes for smart planning so you don’t end up short, running out of time or trying to cram too much into your plan.  
  • Allow yourself room to sway off course for fresh opportunities that cross your path.  Keeping your eyes open for alternative ways to get to your goal may actually get you there quicker or in a bigger and better way than you first imagined.  And, here’s where your smart GPS system comes in.  As long as you keep it set on your goal your plan will recalibrate you right back in onto your path.   
  • Enjoy the journey.  How dull would a trip to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite be without taking time to enjoy the view along the way?  Remember to breathe and relish in small victories as well as the bumps in the road that you’re bound to encounter.  That’s the good stuff!  

The final step once you set your career and life GPS is to let go and trust.  I’m sure if Gertrude could talk that is what she would tell my parents.  “Trust me!”  Once your smart plan is set in motion, trust your plan and let go of trying to place too much control over it.  Let your smart GPS guide you.  

Margaret Thatcher said, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.”  Worked for Britain's PM, it'll work for you too.  


3 Ways to Be a Healthy Competitor in Your Career

Trivial Pursuit, Guesstures, Taboo, Texas Hold 'Em, Pictionary.  You name them, my family and friends have played them.  Our past family gatherings have included competitions between the girls and guys, between the age groups, between the siblings, etc.  And, it gets competitive, sometimes insanely so!  Some of us are more competitive than others, and after knowing each other all or most of our lives, we know those competitive buttons to push and those to stay a mile away from.  Does any of this sound familiar?Finish line

It got me thinking about competition in other areas of our lives, when it shows up and when we go looking for it.  When is it healthy and positive and when is it not?  When is it limiting and when does it help us soar?

I believe in our careers and work environments the healthiest way to address competition is to research and learn about our primary competition and then engage them in an authentic, transparent way.  

Here are three ways to do so:

  • Keyword online search - determine the keywords that encompass your specialty and then search for those who do what you do.  Then engage them by following them on social networks, ie, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.  Engaging them means corresponding with them, networking with them, and helping them. Yes, helping them.
  • LinkedIn Groups and Q&A - by joining affinity and professional groups on Linkedin.com (there are hundreds) you not only learn about potential competitors, but engaging with them by adding pertinent comments and answering questions in the site Q&A section also positions you as an expert in your field.  Pretty soon they'll be engaging you!
  • Join networking groups - reach out in person by attending professional association networking events.  If you don't find one in your area, start one of your own.  You'll be pleasantly surprised with the number of like-minded individuals out there who are looking for what you have to offer. 

Remember, knowledge is power. 

The authentic mileage attained with this kind of engagement is exponential and gratifying.  And, the upside of this method is that your focus remains on your efforts rather than on what someone else is doing that you're not.  The key to thriving above and alongside the competition is to understand what is right for you and to concentrate on what is working... for you. 

"If you're too busy worrying about the competition, you don't focus enough on what you're doing."
~ Katie Couric


What's Your Theme for 2010?

Let’s begin the year with an admission.  I like themes.  What can I say, I’m one of those sad sacks who likes (pause for effect) theme parties.  I’ve been known, in years past, to host nerd parties, dress-like-your-favorite-dead-celebrity parties, mystery dinner parties, bad prom/bridesmaid dress parties, etc.    Live love laugh

That scary confession aside, I do think it’s effective to give yourself a theme for the year.  In good storytelling the theme is the through line from which the main message is derived, or the main questions are answered.  When it’s a successful theme all key aspects of the story connect back, in large or small measure, to that premise.    

When you give yourself an annual theme it becomes a touchstone statement for you to keep coming back to all year allowing your intentions to remain alive.  My annual themes invariably have to do with either a mantra that motivates me, an area that I want to improve in my life or a passion that I want to live on a more regular basis.  It can be whatever you want it to be.   

Over the holiday I read several books, one of which is a great little book that packs a powerful punch written by my new friend, Lawler Kang.  In his book, “Passion at Work”, Lawler shares several relatable anecdotes that form the basis of a smart method for finding your work passion.  One phrase that caught my eye and is the foundation of my theme for 2010 is “having the time of your life, in the time of your life.”  He says that when you can reach the point of realizing that you’re not living the life you want to live or working the work you want to work, it’s the first step toward turning the corner and finding a “different map to guide your boat.”  

Here are some things to help you choose your 2010 theme:

  • List 10 goals you have for the upcoming year.  Look for common themes within these goals.  One year my goals centered on booking acting jobs, getting speaking engagements, enlarging my career network circle and getting a promotion at work, so my theme was “Rapunzel’s Coming-out Party,” reminding myself all year to get out of “my tower” and be visible and accessible.
  • Think about what riches you want added to your life, perhaps a new relationship or more depth to current relationships.  One year my theme was “The Year of the Man.”  Nuf said.
  • Give yourself a theme song, something that when you hear it, it helps you to focus on your intentions.  You can go from sentimental to rocking it out with whatever lyrics, rhythms or song titles do it for you.  One year I chose The La’s, “There She Goes,” as my theme song.  Another year it was the motivating cadence from Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” that got me going.  For 2010 my theme song is “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas.
  • What are the passions that you want to focus more time and energy on?  Let one of these be your metaphorical guide for the year.  Do you like to paint?  Give yourself the theme of “Living in Color” to remind yourself to paint which in turn may bring more color to your life in other ways.  Or do want to finally finish reading that list of classic literature?  Or learn to SCUBA or surf?  The year I got certified in SCUBA my theme was “Dream Big, Live Big, Be Big” and it carried me through the year, SCUBA being just the beginning. 

I’m at a point in my life where I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning.  I’m doing what I love and am expecting way more of it this year!  And, in the last year I really got that it’s possible and probable.    

So, my 2010 theme is, “Live the Time of My Life” with the soundtrack "I Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas.  

What’s yours?


Not Resolutions, But Revelations - Your List for 2010

Maria Shriver has called this the "year of the woman." This causes me to think about those who have left their mark. They are remembered for their gifts. One of Eleanor Roosevelt's many gifts was fearless outspokenness; Jackie Onassis is revered for her grace under pressure; Mother Teresa's selfless heart set her apart and there are countless others. You may not think you stack up to these women in history, but, you can learn from your own herstory or history.

This year instead of making a list of resolutions, putting focus on what you don't have, try making a list Happy-new-year of revelations about the remarkable gifts you already possess and how you'll make them work for you in 2010. As you zero in on your unique talents, you'll discover your potential for success.

Set aside some quiet time and answer these questions to help re-discover your gifts. A part of you knows where you shine, although some of those talents may be a bit tarnished or even forgotten. It's time to polish them off so they indeed shine!

• What did you love to do when you were eleven? It's our most impressionable age and the time when many of us strayed from heart-felt desires due to peer or parental pressure. Think back. Have fun with it. Your eleven-year-old heart's desire could be your true desire.

• What were your favorite school subjects and after-school activities?

• Make note of times in your life when things came easily. What were you doing? How did you feel? Re-create the scene: where were you, what were you wearing, were there smells, colors? Re-live it and think about how you can bring that joy back into what you're doing now.

• What do your closest friends say your gifts are? Survey a friend you knew in school and a friend in your life now. True friends know your heart.

Now create your list of 2010 Revelations, such as "My gift for motivating others will enable me to create successful team meetings at work" or "My creative writing talent will drive me to finish the first draft of a novel" or "I have a unique way of inspiring others to action which will enable me to improve the lives of many."

Take the first week of the year to make your list; you won't believe how powerful it will make you feel about your upcoming year.

When you're done you'll have a launching pad for success.