Are You a Conversation Killer?

You know the type – the people who command attention the entire conversation. You know everything about them and their day, yet they did not ask you ONE question in return! The interaction was more a monologue than a dialogue. Often times you walk away from these conversations and wonder why you feel frustrated. It is hard to change these people, so let’s do a self-check on our skills.

As a motivational speaker, people often ask questions about how I got started in the business and who my clients are, and I find myself getting giddy. Someone is interested in me! I have to relax and realize that they mostly want the cliff note version of my career path. It is fun to have an interesting job, but it is a conversation killer to wax on and on about it. I always try to steer the conversation back to them. Then they get to feel giddy, “Yippee, someone is interested in me!”

The problem is that we all want to appear interesting, but true meaningful conversations occur when there is genuine interaction, where both parties converse equally and thoughtfully. The most important step is to be more interested in the other person than trying to be interesting to them. Yes, we want to bond and connect, but watch what happens when you are an engaged listener. Give others your full attention rather than waiting for them to take a breath, so you can hijack the conversation with something about yourself.

My engineer hubby is famous for this. When we are at parties, he will end up “talking” with someone and when I say talking, I mean that he listens, asks great questions and is truly present. People will then tell me what an amazing husband I have, which is funny because I know how my husband casts his spell — he is interested in them!

A subset of the conversation killer is the one-upper. You know people who after listening to your story have to top it with their story? Sometimes it becomes a contest of who had the worst day or who is the most stressed out or how many sporting events they had to sit though. Just let people have their moment. You’re not performing or trying to win. I know it is hard, but if you beat them with an “even more embarrassing moment” (I always can), you’ve basically stolen the thunder and killed the conversation momentum. Don’t be a banter bully.

Do you want to have better and more meaningful connections and relationships?
Be aware of your conversation skills. Recognize when you are too long in the speaking spotlight. People have a story and they love when someone is interested in listening. Be present and pay attention to what others are saying. Ask questions. Make relating statements. Find a balance between listening and talking.

Converse. Connect. Engage. Enjoy!

Stop Swatting and Say Thank You

You did a great job on the project!
Well, it was a group effort.

Your hair looks great!
Oh, I actually need a haircut.

I like your shirt.
This old thing? I’ve had it since high school.

I’ve done this…a lot lately. At a recent party, a colleague told me that I “always look cute,” and I responded by telling her not to get any closer because with the excessive heat, I didn’t smell that cute. It was an awkward moment for everyone within earshot. I felt terrible and she was clearly uncomfortable. What just happened? So much for my skills as a motivational speaker.

Has this ever happened to you? You know — someone gives you a compliment and you swat it away? Or you give a quick compliment back to take the spotlight off you and prove the complimenter is in the wrong?

Why do we do this? To appear humble? Give me a break! If I say “thank you,” will I really look like a conceited jerk? I think about golfing with my hottie engineer hubby. When I tell him, “Great shot,” he never responds with, “It was just lucky.” He says thanks. And, it feels good for both of us.

A compliment is a gift. Lord knows we could all use more positivity in our lives, so why push it away? Could you see yourself rejecting a physical gift that someone handed you? Of course not! You wouldn’t want to be rude to the gift giver, right? Right. You would say thank you and go on your way — even if it was a gift you didn’t want or didn’t think you deserved.

By accepting a compliment, you convey to the other person that you trust their judgment. So next time you get one, instead of deflecting it, focus on receiving the compliment without judging the content. Practice saying, “THANK YOU” with a big smile, and accept the gift with grace. Trust me: everyone will be happier.

So, give compliments freely. Accept them gratefully. As for me, next time I promise to keep the secret of my Secret not working, to myself.

In Good Company [with Water Woman]

My son is turning 10 and he has his heart set on a strawberry birthday cake with a race track decoration – nothing too crazy. So off we go to the local grocery store bakery.

Bakery Babe: “I’m sorry, we only have chocolate and vanilla cakes.”
Tired Mom: “Really?!?”
Clueless Bakery Babe: “No one around here makes a strawberry cake.”
Irritated Mom: “How about The Flour Shop-that specialty cupcake place down the street?”
Helpful Baker: “Oh yes, they would. They are the best. You should get your cake from them.”
Resigned Mom: “Thanks, we will.”
Birthday Boy: “Well, that was unusual. Why is she giving her business to someone else?”
Motivational Speaker Mom: “She doesn’t think of it as her business.”

Happily, the cupcake place will oblige. Next stop: Target, to get other forgotten birthday stuff and whatever impulse items jump into my cart.

Checkout Dude: “Is that La Croix water any good?”
Still Tired Mom: “Yes, I love it. It is a great alternative to pop, and I love the lime.”
Random Shopper at Next Checkout: “Did you know Perrier has lime bubble water in cans?”
Confused Mom: “What? Who? What?”

Let me cut to the chase. She dumps her cart and comes over to tell me she works for Perrier and wants me to try her water. She asks me to wait and sprints away, only to come back with 2 cases of Perrier and 1 case of San Pellegrino (also owned by Perrier). She swipes her corporate card and puts the water in my cart. She told me to ask for it at restaurants and left to go pay for her items.

I turned to my son, “Now that is owning your business…and it is her day off!”

Lots to Ponder
What kind of employee are you? Clueless Bakery Babe or Water Woman (my hero!)?
Which one would you want working for you?
Who do you want to do business with?
What do you do with a 10-year-old who gets it — better than many employees?

Empower your people. Get Empowered. And, keep good company.



Deprive to Revive!

So there I was, lying in a “sensory awareness” pod, floating in dense salt water. For the first 10 minutes, there is light and the sound of waves. Then darkness, and only the sound of my own breath and heartbeat.

The float was featured at a speaker retreat with the goal of emerging with clarity, peace and new ideas. The pressure was on. Could I shut my mind off for an hour in hopes of creating something really unique and original? For the first few minutes in the tank I was a bit freaked out, then calm…until the lights went out and them my mind went on overdrive:

What am I going to make for dinner? Stop that. Did I pack the kids’ snacks? Relax. I have an itch near my eye. Will I get salt in it if I dare touch it? Just breathe. Why do the Mavericks always lose in overtime? Focus! Dang, what time is it?

Rejoining the group was so disappointing. While my colleagues fiercely scribbled brainstorms, no new ideas surfaced for me and I sat sadly in front of a blank paper. Finally, I wrote the word “MOMENT.” Then I wrote, “not many moments for mom.” Hey, MOM is the first three letters in MOMent! Then, in the middle of moment, I saw ME!

There it was! We all need to put more ME into our moments. In thinking back, I had a whole bunch of ME time in the float tank, and I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t focus on my breathing. I couldn’t clear my head. The environment was perfect, yet I didn’t know how to begin. Scheduling “me” doesn’t come naturally for many of us, but hey it’s 2013. Come on, let’s go for it!

DEPRIVE your mind of all your crazy stimuli. Can you apply brain brakes? Stop dwelling on the past. Stop obsessing over what is next. Stop blaming. Stop checking Facebook (tough!) Step out of the Twitterverse. Quit scheduling. Stop everything except what’s going on here and now. For a moment…just be.

STRIVE to be MINDLESS. Of course you’re soooo busy! What can calm your brain? Yoga? Meditation? Quiet time? Add something different to your “To-Do” list- time for you! Mark your calendar for mind-free time.

REVIVE + THRIVE! Now that you’ve cleared the decks of your mind, what next? Enjoy your fresh focus! Did you get new ideas? Did clearing chatter help you hear anything new? Put your new energy into things that help make your MoJo flow. Then, for cripes sakes, schedule more of those things! Who says you can’t plan time each day just for you…don’t you deserve it? Listen to the sound of your own breath and heartbeat. You may be surprised at what you hear.


Tis the season to be stressing…fa la la la BLAH! Between placing holiday decor, creating the perfect Christmas atmosphere, gifts for all, clever cards and finding a new place for Elf on a Shelf, many of us find this most wonderful time of year overwhelming. Getting the pre-lit tree to light seems impossible, yet there are those who have time to synchronize their outdoor lights to Gangnam Style!

Wait! Don’t let this harried season pass you by without taking time to enjoy life. Many of us bring on our own stress scenario. Do you need some helpful holiday ideas?  Here we go…


• Feel free to skip the Christmas Newsletter. We know your kids are the smartest and cutest. We also know where you have been on vacation. Don’t you know I follow you on Facebook?

• Send a Happy New Year card in January if you can’t get it together now.

• Wear and repeat. Yes you can wear the same sequin scarf you wore last year. No one will remember. Take the money you’d have spent on new holiday bling and drive your contribution down to the homeless shelter. It will be far more meaningful.

Deck your halls with less. Putting up fewer decorations means less time putting them away. Twinkle lights go a long way to brighten a room.

• Instead of worrying about what to give people in your life who have everything already, adopt a needy family.

Store bought cookies can be very tasty.

• Give gifts of time and skills instead of things – cut your neighbor’s grass for a month, take your brother’s kids for the weekend.

• Skip mall madness.Try online shopping! You’ve gotta love free shipping and gift-wrapping.

• When people ask if you are “ready for the holidays,” say yes and smile. What does “ready” mean anyway?

Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to do everything. Just make a few simple changes to welcome the season. Enjoy the lights. Go hear carolers at the park. Drink hot cocoa-spike if you like. But most importantly, take the time to enjoy the people you love this Holiday season! Cheers!

Reservations About Humor?

When people think about humor, it usually relates to telling jokes, or situations where you double over in laughter. To me it’s more than that – it’s about having (and making) fun in the ordinary and often dull routines in everyday life.

For example, after dropping the kids off at school, I dread coming home to the disaster in my kitchen. Often times while cleaning up breakfast dishes and lunch prep chaos, our chocolate lab will plop down nearby with a heavy sigh.

In my effort to put off re-combobulating the kitchen for as long as possible, I call his name – Murphy – and then I hide behind the counter. When he scrambles to his feet, a chase around the center island ensues. Yes, I play Hide & Seek with my dog. Don’t judge me. It’s great fun and gets the blood flowing — for both of us.

Another fave in our family is the “Restaurant Name-Game.” Last week, I took my son on a lunch date to one of our favorite places, Which Wich. You build your own sandwich, turn in your order and write your name on the bottom of the bag. For kicks, we always put random names, like “Dude,” “Happy,” or “Tired Puppy” (that one would be mine). It is always a kick when the young employee yells out in a bland voice, “I have a turkey for… Tired Puppy.”

This can also backfire. My brother and his wife were going out for dinner and made reservations at their favorite restaurant. Also a goofball, he made the reservation using the name “Hungry,” and mentioned this was a special evening. At the end of their evening, the restaurant brought them a complimentary dessert with (in chocolate writing), “Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Hungry!”

How can you add fun to your daily routine? One thing is for certain – humor makes memories. Figure out ways to make the mundane into something memorable. Get out there and use humor to make the ordinary extraordinary!

Are We There Yet?

On our car trip in Michigan this summer, it wasn’t long before the kids started asking the universal car question –-“Are we there yet??”

Knowing we still had a long way to go, I had to quash this line of questioning straight away. “Yes, we are exactly where we need to be.” This bought us a little bit of silence as they tried to figure out what I was saying. That was my answer the next time as well. They stopped asking.

As annoying as Are we there yet? is when my kids ask it again and again, I’ve found that many adults ask that question throughout their lives. Am I there yet? I will be there when I graduate from college, get a job, get married, have kids, when kids move out, change jobs, make X number of dollars, retire, etc. So many of us wait for a certain event to happen before we believe we’ll reach our destination of happiness and contentment.


You are exactly where you need to be. If you don’t like where you are now, think like a GPS: recalculate and change direction. But whatever you do, take time to enjoy the journey. You’ve probably heard the saying, Wherever you go…there you are. And you are. Enjoy.


Are You Wearing Gotcha Goggles?

We’re on the expressway. We’ve been following a truck for some time and the HOW’S MY DRIVING? sign keeps staring back at me. I remark to my son, “Thank goodness mommy doesn’t have a sign on her car asking people to call about her driving!” He seemed happy about that too, much to my chagrin.

So what happens when you call that phone number? Have you ever wondered? Have you ever called? Are you getting ahead of me here? Oh yes, I had to do it.

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Appreciating Don

I want to tell you about Don, a truly wonderful guy. A great example of his wonderfulness (if that isn’t a word, it should be) was the time he, his wife and his mother-in-law were coming home from an overseas trip. He dropped them off curbside at the departure terminal and went on to return the rental car. It was uber early and the place was still closed, so he threw the keys in the slot, left the car in the appointed spot, and shuttled back to the terminal.
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When the Guard Keeps You Up

I may be a perky motivational speaker on stage, but at home in the morning, I am a hard-core drill sergeant. After my sing song “get-out-of-bed-sleepy-head” routine, it is GO TIME.

Typically, I bark orders at my elementary school babes, push blueberries, search for papers I need to sign, throw together lunches and try to tame my daughter’s wild lion’s mane (anyone have ideas for curly hair care?).

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