10 Ways I Motivate Myself to Work Out

Four years ago a friend gave me the book Younger Next Year for my birthday. The title grabbed me, because I am always trying to motivate myself and look a bit younger. The book stresses the importance of exercise, so I bought the audio version and started listening and walking.

The premise of the book is simple–you’re either growing/building your body or you’re rotting. Rotting is a powerful word with strong visual imagery! I didn’t want to rot. Very soon I became obsessed with this book … listening to some of the chapters over and over.                                                                         The book is based on 7 principles, or  “Harry’s Rules”

  1. Exercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.
  2. Do serious aerobic exercise 4 days a week for the rest of your life.
  3. Do serious strength training, with weights, 2 days a week for the rest of your life.
  4. Spend less than you make.
  5. Quit eating crap!
  6. Take Care of yourself.
  7. Connect and commit.

Now I am not saying that this is the greatest book on fitness ever written and you may not like it, but it changed the way I think and act about exercise, aging and my overall health.

Walking is and is a great way to exercise but I needed to get my heart rate up so I took action and joined the Y. I started off with a Zumba dance class thinking, “great cardio” and as a bonus I would have some fun. Now here’s where the truth about exercise, at least for me begins: The music was great, but my body was hurting and my heart was pounding. I was not is shape and half way through the class I was looking at the clock as the minutes slowly ticked by. I was struggling and the next day it was easier not to go… but I went.

“You have to work through the discomfort and the negativity when you start out. It does get better!”

It’s 4 years later and I am addicted to exercise – Zumba, body pump, cardio combo, body flow, yoga, and soon cycling. So what moved me from dread to joy?

Here are some of the tricks I have learned to keep me motivated, and exercising every day.

  1. Think of working out as part of your career success. Look at it as part of your  job and you have to show up every day. The pay is amazing but not half as good as the benefits.

  1. Group classes worked! I am an extrovert and the group classes worked best. I need a team around me. Hint- Make friends with the regulars who stand near or during the workout. It helps.

  1. Make friends with the instructors. That will keep you motivated and obligated to show up for them!!!

    My first Zumba instructor,Shannon 

  1. Buy cool looking workout clothes and if you are lucky enough to work from a home office like me, put them on in the morning. And don’t be stingy. But several of everything so you don’t have the excuse that nothing is clean.

  1. Write down how you feel after every workout. It is a great way to journal your journey and you’ll motivate yourself with your own feelings and words. 
  1. Do not look at the clock. Listen to the music, and stay in the moment. I have created a great playlist of songs I would never have heard if it weren’t for Eliot, my favorite instructor. He keeps me young and fun.

My personal motivator Eliot Perez – Heights Y

  1. Before you decide not to go, ask yourself, “Will I regret skipping today?” Guilt is the Killer App.

  1. Go for a walk, invite your dog and listen to audiobooks! You will find that you walk longer.

9. Make exercise your favorite thing to do.

10.  Pat yourself on the back because you are getting stronger!

Think Like a Millennial? Take the Quiz

I Started speaking on the generations back in 2005 when the Millennials were starting to show up and make some noise in the workplace. It was a great fit because I felt I had an understanding of young people. You see,  before becoming a speaker I owned retail fashion stores in Houston. Hiring many young employees with no workplace experience was typical,  and I often discovered that  they had the potential become great employees. My early years in retail and retail management set the foundation for my peaking platform.

As you may have guessed, I am a not a Millennial – I am a Baby Boomer, but I am discovering that I think and, yes, at times, act like a Millennial despite all the negative comments and sterotyping. They have been described as entitled, narcissistic, and spoiled—and let’s not forget lazy. But, throughout my work and research, I have discovered the opposite is true. Just as Gen Xers have turned out to be other than their name implies, the Millennials that I encounter are ambitious, smart, energetic, creative, and have truly inspired me to do better work.

As we continue to hear the negative comments about this generation, I want to know how many of you Xers and Boomers out there are secretly saying, “Yes, Millennials—go for it!” with the hope that the changes they represent will trickle down into your workplace and life?

For a few moments, forget about the year you were born and the descriptive behavioral characteristics of Millennials. Look and see if any of the items on the list below resonate with you…

Maybe it’s possible that you, too, are more like a Millennial than you think!

True or False

1. You are not content with the status quo. You are always thinking of how things can be better. You are curious, and open to new ideas.

2. You embrace change and see change as an opportunity to grow.

3. You use technology to engage with others.

4. Technology increases your productivity.

5. You are not fond of long hours behind a desk when the work can be done anywhere. You prefer a flexible work schedule when possible and use technology as a means to be more productive.

6. You are motivated by humanitarian causes.

7. You are a self-promoter and have an opportunist’s mindset—you know how to grow your brand.

8. You have a low BS factor and seek out those people who are authentically themselves.

9. You seek feedback.

10. You are impatient.

If eight or more are True for you, you too are more like a Millennial than your assigned generation, please share your thoughts and any other characteristics that I have not included.

Bored with Myself! Time to Let It Go

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Do you ever get bored with YOURSELF? I was, and I decided it was time to “Let It Go” and to make some changes in my keynotes presentations and also in my day to day routine. Actually, I didn’t even know I was bored with myself until I attended  a keynote workshop in Denver. It was three days, working on our content and stories. Throughout those three days, I explored several opportunities for a fresh start by letting go of  bits, stories, and phrases in my keynotes.

As 2017 approached, I continued this idea of letting go, and uncovered several habits that I have decided to STOP doing and shake thing up.Here are a few things I have decided to leave behind as I keep on my mission to better myself, be more productive, and become happier in 2017.

  1. STOP SITTING all day and get up and moving! Because I work from my home I get to sit a lot! There are many days I start working at 8:00 a.m. and stay put in my chair until I get hungry and head to the kitchen. Recently, I read a fellow speaker, Audrey Thomas’s, blog called “Sit Less and Get More Done” and discovered that I can work standing in my kitchen! So now I stand an hour or two a day, but not all day. Research at the Texas A&M shows that productivity increases when people have the ability to sit and stand throughout the work day, and by trial and error they figure out what combination works best for them.
  1. STOP TALKING so much and start listening. A few weeks ago I had lunch with a close speaker friend, Crystal Washington. I was so excited to see her and tell her all the things I was doing! When I finally stopped talking and listened to Crystal, I actually started taking notes. When she shared her perspective on the business and things she was adding to her plan, I realized that she comes at things from a different perspective and her ideas are FRESH and unique from mine. She invigorated me and put some ideas into my mind which leads me to my next item.
  1. STOP HANGING OUT with people just like me. Look around at who you hang out with… do they think just like you? I know it feels good to be with those people who are like you. They share the same beliefs on politics, listen to the same music – They nod when you are talking; they smile as they agree hearing your views. BUT!!! Here comes the big BUT: you will stagnate in this environment. Spending most of your time with people like you prevents growth and new ideas. Seek out people different from yourself and develop a growth mindset. And while you’re at it- try listening to news from a different viewpoint-
  1. STOP SLEEPING WITH THE PHONE charging on the bed stand.
    Ouch!!! This one is hard. I had to get out my old clock radio. Here’s the issue. I hear the phone all night while I am sleeping. Ping, Ping, Ping and, if I have to get up at 2, 3, or 4 a.m., I immediately check my phone to see who texted me or sent an email. It’s crazy. Then my mind is turned on when it really needs to rest and turn off. Sleep is important- and getting a good night’s sleep where our bodies can restore it critical to our mental and physical health.  I took Simon Synek’s advice, and I now charge my phone in the kitchen and I am sleeping much better!
  1. STOP SAYING “YES” when I want to say “NO” (Justin Beiber says it all). I am going to limit my yeses to things I really want to do, and just say, “No, I can’t help you with that one.” This is the year I begin to do a better job with the things I actually want to do and honor those commitments by doing a great job. When my plate is full of too many yeses, I find that I do a less than stellar job on each undertaking.

We all have habits sometimes called our addictions in our day-to-day routine that may be getting in the way of achieving our goals and happiness. Maybe the challenges I am committed to stop doing are not your issues. But take a moment to do a self-assessment and come up with three to five things you are going to do differently this year, and as the wise Elsa once said—“Let it go!”

My UnResolution!

 

This blog is about letting go of what sometimes works but could be better!

Last week I did the opening day keynote for THLA (Texas Hotel & Lodging Association). I have been the opening keynoter for this particular event for the past 11 years.  Lucky for me, each year the audience is totally different except for the association administrators.  This year, after some great coaching, I tried several new pieces adding new stories, a game and a totally new closing. Honestly, I was very nervous hoping the new stuff would “land”. During the program one of the association’s administrators stood up and announced to  the audience that she has head me for 11 years and each year the keynote different but this year it was remarkable. Phew…what a relief. Letting go of my tried and true material was hard, but creating fresh and new is exciting, even thrilling!

What are you holding onto that is holding you back?

Lessons I Learned Listening to Rob Lowe

14068320_1200311903324983_2512375791801175616_nLast month I was the opening speaker at a conference called Connect Marketplace. This is the 3rd time they called me back to open their conference. Needless to say I was thrilled. It was a biggie-over 3000 meeting planners and suppliers attend these conferences and I appreciated the opportunity. When I saw the speaker line-up I nearly fell over – the other two speakers were Rob Lowe and Shaq and there I was smack in between.

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As it turned out I opened the first day and Rob opened the conference the next day..So, actually I can now say that I opened for Rob Lowe !
The morning of Rob’s session, audience was filled with Row Lowe fans with phones in hand taking photos to share on Twitter and Instagram. in that huge ballroom.  Young, old, male, female it didn’t matter because they all seemed to love him.
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And here’s the best news- he showed up and he showed up better than great! He was real! He not only won me over but most of the 3200 in attendance loved him. A lot of what Rob shared really hit home- in my work I have to travel a great deal, show up, and be on… stage. He dropped some wise life lessons over his up and down career.

 

So please, Listen up!

1. The beginning of the interview started with Chris Collinson remarking that Rob seemed very comfortable in his own skin and here’s Rob’s reply: “When you skin looks like mine, it’s easy to be comfortable!” (lesson: add more night cream)

2. “Any time an opportunity scares you that much, you should seriously consider saying yes.” (oh $%#*)

3. “I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who said 90 percent of successful moviemaking is in the casting. The same is true in marriage. Success comes when you cast the right partner.” (Needed this one years ago.)

4. When talking to someone you respect Rob said : “Tell me one thing that you know that I should know.”

5. On the subject of mentors and mentoring and Rob added:  “If I have one regret it is that I can’t pick up the phone and call a mentor. Guys just don’t mentor each other the way they should.(Guys, is that true for you?)

6. Rob’s list is long- The Outsiders, West Wing, Parks/Rec, St Elmos and just recently The Grinder that was cancelled: “I live project to project. Your best is never really your best. You are only as good as your last job.” (Stop talking about all you did… what are you doing NOW!)

7. “If you’re telling a story, and somebody is going to come out badly, it better be you.”(Good one for my speaker friends) 

8.Rob confessed:  “26 years ago I made the decision to become sober. People drink because they aren’t comfortable in their own skin. I am comfortable with who I am.”

(and we end it back talking about Rob’s skin!

and actually, that’s not a bad place to be .

Make It Happen Workshop – The Process of Transformation

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Is this your year? Is this your year to write that book, lose 20 pounds, change jobs, get the big promotion, take the family to Disney, or _______________________?  If you are serious about making a positive change in your life read on.

If you find yourself questioning your current career path, are wanting to take your business/career to the next level, are exploring your options, looking for a breakthrough, or thinking of starting a business, consider attending our  2-Day Workshop – Friday and Saturday June 10 -11, 2016 in the Houston’s Heights area. If you are coming from out of the area the Downtown Doubletree Hotel has great weekend rates.

This might be the perfect time  in your life to step back, review, regroup and strategically look at the next steps. You know what we are suppose to do,  but, knowing what you are suppose to do is not always enough. You may have a dream, a goal, even a vision of your future, and you realize you need help pushing yourself to move forward.

I have partnered with my good friend and personal success coach, Cecilia Rose and together  will give you the PUSH…moving you forward when you are uncertain, not ready, or simply don’t feel like it! These moments are where the magic happens:

It’s the space between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

Cecilia and I have been working together and we designed a two-day business expanding, life-changing, interactive workshop that promises to inspire change, challenge thinking and accelerate personal and professional growth.

Cecilia will tackle your doubts, fears and hesitations to what may be holding you back as she builds on your strengths, defying limited thinking. I will give you the necessary personal branding tools/social/stories, with a touch of executive presence, positioning you to move into action and stand out from the competition.

Here is the way the two days will play out:

  • The Brand Called You – an understanding of personal branding
  • Breaking Assumptions
  • Reframing Your Mindset
  • Tapping into Signature Strengths, Values, Shared Values
  • Getting Clear on What You Want
  • How Long Will You Live
  • Doing the Work
  • The Tuning Point
  • The  Final Push

If you know us you know that our  style is engaging, fun, honest and direct. Together we will be sharing research and tools with interactive exercises, peer-to-peer coaching, actionable advice, personal strategies to stay focused and be productive, ideas for your plan, and some memorable stories.

It’s one thing to talk behavior changes to accomplish your dreams, and… together  will make it happen.

Don’t Miss Out – Register Today

  • Friday and Saturday June 10 -11, 2016
  • The Council (free parking)
  • 303 Jackson Hill – Houston, TX 77007
  • 9:30am – 4:00pm
  • Lunch provided
  • $297.00

or email me at Karen@karenmccullough.com and I will bill  you closer to the date but you have reserved your place.

Cecilia Rose

Cecilia Rose is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, and Career Strategist. She is known for changing people’s lives! She is recognized as an authority in coaching professionals who are stuck in their careers, at an impasse, or are ready to open the door to new opportunities. Cecilia is a PCC Credentialed Executive Career Coach with the International Coach Federation and has 20+ years experience serving as a trusted advisor to executives. She has a proven track record of coaching executives and professionals on how to navigate, accelerate or recreate their careers. Her style is people-centric with the unique combination of business acumen, intuition, analytical skills and career expertise that spans a wide range of functions, disciplines and industries. She is recognized as an authority in coaching professionals who are stuck in their careers, at an impasse, or are ready to open the door to new opportunities.

Karen McCullough

Karen is a master of reinvention – She has evolved from teacher, to business owner to a nationally sought after keynote speaker. Before owning and operating her own retail stores, Karen spent years working with brands such as Ralph Lauren and The Limited. Later, as a retail CEO, she gained hands-on experience in marketing, brand building, driving sales, leadership development, and customer loyalty. She works with corporations, businesses, universities, associations, opening minds, and ready to make positive changes. Some of her clients include: Sigma Solutions, VMware, Procter & Gamble, Comerica, Symantec, McGraw-Hill, BP, Oxy, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, The World Bank, The U.S. Department of Justice, Humana, HP Enterprise, HCDE, Spring ISD, United Way, American Heart Association, and Methodist, MD Anderson, and Memorial Herman

Testimonials

“Cecilia Rose…Helps others “see” what they can be…
Recognizes human potential and “magnifies” the positives…
Has the “vision” to pursue excellence…
Has a “wide field of view” about opportunity
Is great at focusing on what is important
Helps others remove the “lens” of their limitations ”  Ken Olsen

“Cecilia did a fantastic job of helping my transition from a large Oil and Gas company to my current position – and a change of country of residence into the bargain! She acted as advisor, coach and challenger. Her advice on taking the time to review my career options, to set a clear direction for the future and to network as widely as possible was essential and vital. In particular guidance on self-marketing and demonstrating confidence (based on my track record, of course…) were invaluable. Cecilia chairs a forum of great individuals in similar transition that is inspiring and fun. Her energy and sense of humour is unique! In summary, what could have been very stressful was liberating and revitalizing.” Mike Dyson

“I can’t say enough about Karen. She is simply phenomenal. She is an amazing speaker, coach, and thought leader. She inspires and educates everyone she comes in contact with. I highly recommend her to anyone trying to change their mindset. She sees things in a way that others don’t. My experience with her has been life changing.” John Osterman

“Karen was the one that helped me transition from consulting to full time speaking and she has catapulted my speaking career. In less than a year she helped me create a business system, tweak my presentation style, and up my fee considerably. The end results are my being picked up and booked by multiple speaker bureaus as well as multiplying my annual speaking income to the point that I’ve been able to completely rely on speaking and only do consulting only when I see a fun project come along.” Crystal Washington

 

 

Listen Up – Listening Creates Understanding

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As a professional speaker  my job requires a lot of listening. I have to listen to the needs of the client before I can create the presentation. Because I spend most of my stage time talking I have had to work on and improve my listening skills.. I get paid to talk but  I am a much better speaker when I open my ears and my mind, receive and listen.  The ability to read your audience depends on your ability to listen with both your eyes and ears. Many times I must shift my content to fit the needs of the audience in front of me.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”–Peter Drucker

Listening creates understanding—it helps get things done correctly; it’s part of learning, and it shows others that we value them. Listening deepens relationships and grows trust and appreciation. So we get that listening is important, but how much time do we actually put into improving our listening skills? We spend 60% of our time listening but we only retain 25%.  Most workplace and life mistakes happen because someone isn’t listening.

Many of us don’t consciously realize that listening is a critical component in the communications loop. We think listening just happens, and that we don’t need to make an effort to effectively hear what people are saying because we have ears for that. Active listening takes a little practice! If we are to learn from others, we need to optimize our communication skills by effectively closing the conversation loop, and to do that we need to improve our listening skills. See Karen’s program on Listening.

Here are some tips to elevate your listening experience:

  1. Stop talking. You can’t multitask speaking and listening. It’s impossible. When you are talking, you are not listening. And this also applies to that little voice talking inside your head. (I know for a fact that we women have more than one voice inside our head—we have an entire committee chatting it up!) Consequently, Rule #1 is to “Stop the Talking!”
  1. Look at the person who is talking, pay attention and receive their message. Take time to notice their facial expressions and their body language. We gather more information from non-verbal signs and tone of voice than we do from a person’s actual words. Active listening requires an understanding of what someone is saying with their gestures, eye contact, and tone of voice as well as their words.
  1. Focus and eliminate distractions. Turn off the phone  or  TV, and put down that iPad. When you interrupt someone to check your messages, you are sending a signal that you are not interested in what they have to say. Try to create an environment in which you can listen without distractions and think clearly about the input and ideas of others.
  1. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t jump to conclusions, or react before the speaker has had a chance to express himself/herself. Don’t try to solve the problem before they have completed presenting their issue.
  1. Be polite. Don’t finish the other person’s sentences. Wait until the speaker is finished talking before deciding if you agree or disagree. Don’t try to solve the problem or come up with the answer while the speaker is still talking.
  1. Ask good questions. Learn how to create thought-provoking conversations. Ask meaningful questions that get to the heart of the matter. A good question gets the speaker to think more deeply and perhaps expand the conversation.
  1. Ask for feedback on your ideas. The opportunity to give and receive feedback allows us to give guidance and make adjustments. Feedback helps make sure that all parties are hearing the same message, and it lessens miscommunication.
  1. Repeat what people say and summarize. Offering a comment like, “Let me be sure I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that …?” or you may say,  “So you are thinking” – This helps to prevent misunderstandings and shows that you are really listening
  1. Avoid contradicting, offering suggestions, and offering your personal affirmations while the speaker is speaking. Let them talk without your interruptions or side remarks.
  1. Practice all of the above!

Practicing active listening skills will transform your interaction with others. Listening helps generate solutions, stimulates creativity, encourages collaboration, and enriches your business and social connections. By honoring others with your time and attention, you’ll energize conversations and come up with ideas and solutions that you’d never find on your own.

How I Stay Focused and Productive

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.07.24 PMI admit I feel sure that I have a touch of ADHD…I never officially got tested but I do get distracted  and lose focus easily. I get a lot of ideas all at once (like now when I am writing this and have an urge to look at shoes on Zappos) and I have to stop and refocus on the task at hand. The idea that I have ADD didn’t really even occur to me back when I was running my retail stores. Retail is totally an “ADD friendly” business – always having interruptions, people in and out, calls… actually it was a great place for someone like me.  But …when I became a speaker and started working out of my home office I began to notice my little lack of concentration quirks.

Being a solopreneur and working out of my home office can have its challenges. I am my own boss, manager and motivator and I have discovered that I need structure and rituals in my day if I am going to be successful. Structure is something that I naturally resisted (ENFP) but through practice and the desire to succeed it has become my good friend.

So here are some of the things/rituals that I do stay focused and productive.

1. I plan my day the night before. I use to plan early in the morning, but I discovered that I am more productive if my mornings are free to work out. See #8

2. In my PM planning I begin with the top two or three must do’s (commitments) that no matter what, I will get them accomplished that day.

3.  I include people in my daily plan…people that I need to reconnect with to keep the relationship alive, and people that I need to connect with because I am waiting on them either for information or as a follow-up.

4. I have an ongoing list of 3 projects (website redo, write book, create an online course, write a blog post) that I continually chip away.

5. When I am working at my desk I cut out all distractions. I turn off my email, and pings from social media.

6. I have discovered the site focusatwill.com and I set the timer for 90 minutes of classical music. It keeps me focused and I work faster and better when the music is on. I love it and I really focus.

7. I work at my desk writing or doing clerical work for 90 minutes at a time and then I take off 10 minutes and do something unrelated to work (throw in a load of clothes or empty the dishwasher) and then hit it for another 90. I learned this trick from Jim Loehr early in my speaking career. I read his book The Power of Full Engagement and it changed my life and how I look at time management.  It’s well worth  the read.

8. I discovered that exercise and dance have increased my energy levels and I am more productive when I hit the gym. Because I work alone I enjoy working out in classes with people who I greet and chat a bit before and after the class. It energizes me and I alternate between yoga classes, Zumba, a step class, and body- pump every day that I am in town.  I go early in the morning and then again if possible at 5:30 in the afternoon. I cannot tell you how good I feel and how my energy level has advanced. I believe that the yoga/meditation has really played a huge role in my ability to focus.

9.  Dr Phil once said you can’t claim it if you don’t name it.  I try and do all my clerical work on Mondays (Money Mondays) and my creative writing on Thursdays (Text Thursdays).  I like naming the days- it helps my stay on track…I have a VA and I have her doing all the follow-ups up “Follow-up Wednesday”.

10. Recently a friend told me about the Five Minute Journal, just five minutes a day made Tim Ferris happier , so I ordered one. I have been writing in it for almost a month and actually I enjoy it, and I am focusing on personal growth. It’s not hard to do and it actually takes me less than five minutes. It’s gratitude/affirmation/reflection journal.  The question that gets me thinking and is actually making a difference is, “How could I have made today even better?”

So there you have it! Please comment and give us all your tips on staying focused  and productive.

Sticky Stories Build Brands

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I started on my journey to become a motivational speaker the summer of 1999.  I had just closed my last retail store and I was searching for my next career.  A friend of mine talked me into going to a local speaker’s meeting (National Speakers Association of Houston) and it just so happened that on that particular night a group of  newbie speakers were presenting their 15 minute graduation talk.  I was stunned…”Could someone actually get paid to do this?”  If so I wanted in!

I joined the local chapter that night and attended my  first NSA national conference in 2000.  I was impressed – The quality of the speakers at national was remarkable!  It was there that I first  heard the fabulous Jeannie Robertson tell hysterical stories about the Miss America Pageant, her husband LB (left brain) and her struggles with panty hose and I  realized I needed some stories. The problem was, I didn’t think I had a story to tell – and then I went to the Jazzfest, bumped into  Sting and the rest is history!

So, move over Elsa and Anna, because stories aren’t just for kids; they appeal to all ages. Especially in today’s world, stories are serious business! Your stories can be a powerful tool that can help you land your next job, move you into a leadership role, help you sell more or speak more, while building a memorable professional brand.

I have learned through the years that a great storyteller creates a lasting connection between their story and audience. We are hardwired to listen to and remember stories because stories have a way of resonating deep within us. Research tells us that fact, figures, and graphs engage a small area of the brain, but stories engage multiple brain regions that work together to build an emotional response. And when we combine hard data with a story, we are moved by intellect as well as emotions. Stories stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and text on a slide with a bar graph can never do.

Stories make concepts and ideas come alive and stick. 

Stories that stick are remembered and repeated, so here are some tips for Telling Sticky Stories:

  • Make your story audience centric. It’s not about you—it’s about them. So, before you dive into developing the story ask yourself these questions: Who is my audience? What is my goal in telling this story? What’s in it for them? Why should they care? What’s my message? (Hint: Your message is what you want them to remember, and hopefully, these tips will help you do that!)
  • Add the “human touch,” because compelling stories are about people. Add characters to your story, drawing inspiration from people you know in your organizations or a mentor or someone else. Give your characters a voice and let them speak. Adding dialogue adds a real-life touch that makes your story come alive by showing us rather than telling us.
  • Get specific, paint a picture, and add detail with descriptions of time, place, and people. In my Sting Story I describe my friend Mary who has encouraged me to go to the Jazzfest with her like this…                                                                                                                                                                      “If you ever met my friend Mary by day you might get the feeling you are with   Mother Theresa but at night she turns into “Lil Kim!”
  • Now it’s time for the conflict, which creates the tension and adds to the stickiness! Without some sort of conflict or challenge stories aren’t very interesting, actually they become quite boring and who wants that?
  • Keep your story short: I call it “Right and Tight.” They say that our attention span is that of a goldfish, so limit your story to between three and five minutes max.
  • Words matter. Write out your stories and look at the words you are using, and then cut out and rethink some of your words. Here is another example of less is more—rather than using several words to describe a person or situation think of one word that paints a better picture and may even tap into emotions. Instead of saying “Her nose was runny and she needed a tissue.” you might try  “She sneezed and grabbed a Kleenex.” or “He slowly strolled down the hall to the principal’s office” to He crept down to the Principal’s” office
  • Add the Spark—the purpose of a story is the lesson or the moment of truth. Oprah called it her “Aha,” and Akash Karia calls it the “Spark.” The spark is the wisdom your character receives to overcome the conflict! The spark ignites a change and, hopefully, that is the part of your story that sticks.
  • Practice—Practice—Practice! There is power in rehearsing, and if you rehearse enough, it will look so effortless your audience will believe you are a natural.
  • The most important point is for each of you to believe that stories convince, teach, influence, and evoke wonder. Use what you know and draw from it. Connect with your values and capture your truth from your experiences.

I am doing a storytelling workshop in Houston on April 22. Please email me if you have any interest just send me an email at Karen@KarenMcCullough.com

Busting Myths about Millennials

 

A smiling Caucasian human resource manager with beard interviewed the applicant with his curriculum vitae for the job vacancy. Employment, recruitment concept. A contemporary style with pastel palette, beige tinted background. Vector flat design illustration. Horizontal layout with text space in right side.Because I speak on Generations in the Workplace and I focus on Millennials, I decided to start using Uber – as a research project- interviewing the drivers.

My first trip was in DC visiting my daughter, Meredith. She got me on the app and boom in a few minutes a driver was there.  I used Uber throughout my visit. It was so much easier that walking to the metro or waiting forever for a cam.

When I got back home to Houston, I decided to use Uber more and drive my car less. At first, I only used it to get to and from the airport, but soon I was Ubering it to events all over town. I loved it! In addition to providing me with transportation, Uber has been a great way for me to conduct research. Since I speak on “Generations in the Workplace” and most of my Uber drivers are Millennials, I was getting pages of research.

These interviews have allowed me to expand my insights and bust some myths about Millennials.

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  • Millennials are not lazy. They just look at work differently than their Boomer parents did. They do want to work and they are hard workers, but their biggest difference is that they want independence. Most of my drivers have been part-timers who like the freedom that Uber provides. The can pick their own schedules as to when they want to work, and I have learned that they are ambitious. Over and over, I hear how Uber fills a financial need. I have garnered this info from college students, business majors, and graduate students working on master degrees. I have encountered a web designer, a programmer who works from home and drives just two hours a day (mid-day while taking a break), a high school teacher who only drives on weekends, and a guy that not only drives for Uber but
    rents out his apartment on a regular basis through Airbnb.
  • It’s been said many times that Millennials do not know how to do face-to-face communications. I have found just the opposite to be true. Actually I have enjoyed great conversations in almost every ride. One of my drivers was getting her master’s in social work, and she confessed to me that before driving for Uber she was very quiet and introverted. Her professors suggested that she work on her face-to-face communications because talking and drawing things out of her clients was going to be a big part of her work after graduation. She said that she decided to practice talking to her Uber customers. At first she admitted that she was nervous, but she kept at it. It was a surprise to hear that she struggled with conversation because we talked all the way home.
  • We have heard that Millennials are not loyal to their employers. To the contrary without exception, every driver I have interviewed from Albuquerque to DC has said that they love the entrepreneurial spirit of the company. Drivers have taken me through the vetting process on how they became one. They proudly show me the badges they wear around their neck, the pick stickers on the right front window, stating that they are a certified driver. And every driver has mentioned the five-star rating system. The passenger gets to rate the driver—and get this—the driver gets to also rate the passenger for real-time accountability. Several of the drivers have shared with me that they strive to get as many five-star ratings as possible because if your rating goes below a certain number you are put on probation. I am impressed not only with Uber but with the drivers who want to succeed and who care about my experience in their car.
  • Here’s a new one… Millennials are fun, bold, and creative and they made a ride home an  experience … in a good way!  The last driver I had was really into Adele, I mean really into her.  I head Hello as I entered the car. We sang Adele songs together all the way home ( he must have seen this on youtube) .  It was an experience.

 

 

Today, I am a Millennial and Uber evangelist. I have discovered that the Millennials I am meeting are ambitious, respectful, hardworking, and loyal to their employer. They care about the quality of their work, are accountable, and are terrific conversationalists.Thanks Uber! and if your are reading this TIP your driver!