If you really knew me, you’d know that…

behind the curtain

  • I make good things better.
  • I’m not the best writer I know, but I’m a great editor.
  • I love being the girl behind the scenes. Some people covet the spotlight. That’s not me. I prefer to be the wind beneath that person’s wings.
  • I deconstruct everything, even sitcoms. One of the side effects of being an English major.
  • My super power is that I see the rock star in everyone and mirror it so they can see it too.
  • I’m an introvert, but I play an extrovert most of the time which means I’m an Oscar-worthy actress.
  • Whether Klout recognizes it or not, I have a lot of influence. When I talk, people pay attention and take action.
  • I’m a third culture kid. When I was nine our family spent a year living abroad in France and Austria.
  • I intuitively know people.
  • I hate jelly beans, amusement parks, scary movies and Vegas.
  • My strengths, as identified by Strengthfinders, are Maximizer, Discipline, Developer, Relator and Individualization.
  • I’m magnetic; people are drawn to me.
  • I can talk to anybody.
  • I’m the ultimate connector. My friends say I’m what you want LinkedIn to be.

P.S. I obviously need someone to edit my writing. Thanks, Pup.

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What I learned about indirect communication at the Main Cafe

Ours was the third booth from the back on the left. A young widow with two preschoolers, my young widowed mother had no propensity for preparing balanced dinners for us at home. The chicken fried steak and meatloaf meals that Harold prepared were so generous–and at $1.29, so well priced–that my thrifty mother ordered a single meal which we shared. My earliest memories of dinner were served by Harold’s brother Jim or Jim’s wife Ruth at the Main Cafe.

Looking back, so much of my early education in indirect communication was acquired in this small southeastern Iowa cafe on 7th and Main.

A look or a nod to Jim would yield a refilled coffee cup or a scoop of butter brickle ice cream served in a sundae glass.

While the ancient menu might contain tempting items like grilled cheese sandwiches, Harold expected everyone to order from the specials, and he had a less than subtle way of bringing noncompliant customers around to his way of thinking.

Jim sitting at the bar behind his old Royal, typing up tomorrow’s menu, meant that he was not to be disturbed.

A customer standing at the bar near the front would invariably prompt Ruth or Jim to materialize, accept payment and add the bill to the stack on the metal spike next to the register.

metal spikeEach evening, after a leisurely dinner, the crosswords and dessert, my mother would carefully stack all of the dishes and position them to the side of the table nearest the server. Jim would respond with a measured smile and a nod, his expression of thanks


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Your customers are going to lie to you

There are two reasons I didn’t go out on a date until I was 20. 1. My parents wouldn’t allow it and 2. The pool of eligible men was miniscule. But make no mistake: reason number one trumped reason number two, rendering it null and void.

Of course, that didn’t stop guys from asking me out. Not many, but there were a few. And do you know what I told them? Continue reading

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Coaching 101: Guidelines for working with new clients

I’ll never forget the first time I sat down at my future in-laws’ kitchen table intent on learning how to play euchre. My (future) husband launched into a monologue about a new world order in the land of playing cards where jacks, renamed bowers, were the highest-ranking cards. The “right” bower was the jack of trump. The “left” was the other jack of the same color…

And he lost me. If I am to be perfectly honest, I contemplated feigning food poisoning after the second sentence. You can change the order of cards?! The highest card changes depending on trump?! {whatever that is} So how often and when does trump change?

Not only were all of the concepts new, the terminology was the equivalent of Czech to me. And the “explanations” only added to my confusion because with them came the introduction of even more new terms. Help!

Just because a person has information doesn’t mean that he is adequately equipped to relay the information to someone else. Simply put: not everyone’s a teacher.

Here the guidelines I use when I’m coaching new clients:

  • Begin at the beginning. To borrow from The Sound of Music’s Maria, it’s a very good place to start. You have to start where the learner is and move forward from there.
  • Break it down. Define all new terms in common language.
  • Explain the goals first then the basics. People want to know where they’re going. After that they only want to know enough to get them started and get them on their way to the goal.
  • Examples are key. Most people learn from observing. I know I do. They see an example and then they’re able to transfer the information gleaned from the example to their own experiences later.
  • There’s nothing like learning by doing. Talk is cheap; most people need to get behind the steering wheel and drive.
  • Strategy and exceptions can wait. There will be plenty of time for that later. Let them play a few hands first. A good student will pick up some strategy along the way.

So what happened with me and euchre, you ask? I sat at my mother-in-law’s elbow and watched her play hand after hand. Eventually, she sat at my elbow and coached me. Eventually, we played side by side, me with the occasional question. Now I love the game and play every chance I get.

If you’d like to hire me to coach you to use content or social media to connect with your customers, give me a jingle. Or if you’re up for a game of euchre. I’m game for either.

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It’s gotta make sense

You’ve seen it. The recent U of O journalism grad reporting “breaking news” at 11:00 from remote, long-since-deserted shooting locations. Shattered glass was swept up hours ago. Since the witnesses have tucked into their dinners, and probably even their beds, there’s no one to interview. Even the reporter appears clueless as to why she’s here.

Viewers aren’t fooled. Reporting from a location long after the fact doesn’t give credence to a news report. It’s just gimmicky reporting.

On the other hand, Today’s Savannah Guthrie reported from Charlotte this morning because reporting from this location, vs. the studio in New York City, is relevant. She’s in Charlotte to prepare for tonight’s opening of the Democrat’s Convention. Her producer wisely used Guthrie’s early arrival as an opportunity for her to interview Democratic contender Elizabeth Warren on the state of the economy.

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I’m grateful to be overwhelmed.

Anyone care to guess why I might be feeling a wee bit overwhelmed today?

Yes, my monitor sits on an old Webster’s Dictionary.

While I was blissfully chatting up like-minded people and crafting a nonconventional life for myself at World Domination Summit last weekend, artifacts, most representing to-do’s, have steadily accumulated on my desk, visual cues that I’ve got a crap-ton of piddly-ass shit to do. It’s not that everything is important; in fact very few things are meaningful “big rocks.” But I’m a girl who craves sparse minimalism and needs space, so this kind of visual clutter is overwhelming.

My post-conference modus operandi is to take the day after off to follow up with people I’ve met, review my notes and set action items for myself. And, of course, the desk gets cleared. This system works for me and is one of the methods I use to prevent overwhelm after attending events.

Enter the monkey wrench.

As you’ve probably heard, Chris Guillebeau and the WDS team found that not only did they make money at this year’s conference they were approached by an anonymous donor, so they decided to combine the money and invest it in this year’s participants to the tune of $100 each. Yes, you read that correctly. WDS returned $100 to each of this year’s participants.

So today I find myself overwhelmed. I’m grateful for the faith the WDS team has in me. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do something exceptional with this seed money. I’m gobsmacked at the prospect of so very many options. And I’m terrified of doing the wrong thing.

This is what overwhelm looks like today:

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Social media isn’t as scary as the gurus want you to think.

Every time I attend a business event I am inevitably asked what I do. “My passion is helping small businesses connect with their customers online and off using social media, blogging,…”

Her body shifts uneasily. There’s a measurable distance now between us. We’re both uncomfortable. Continue reading

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