Last 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.
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.
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.”
In 2000 Ileft the fashion industry behind and I began my new career as aprofessional speaker.Coming from a Ralph Laureninspiredfashion industry my first presentations were focused around professionalismand dress. I soon found those subject very limiting and changed my area of expertise toChange, Workplace Trends and Generations in the Workplace, and I put the professional presence presentations on the shelf.
Executive presence has a lot to do with the way you carry and convey yourself, including confidence, gravitas, decisiveness, authenticity and the ability to communicate in a clear and articulate manner. I realize this may seem a bit shallow or “old school” – thinking that people might judge you as not being “executive material” just because you look, act or sound a certain way, but people do make judgments on an unconscious level all the time. If you look and act the part, people will give you the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, not having executive presence can be a deal breaker.
In today’s competitive business environment, executive presence can make or break your ability to lead and influence others. Executive presence encourages people to seek you out and opens doors.Yet, with the acceptance of a more casual and laid-back workplace many peoplemistakenly underestimate its importance.
Leadership potential isn’t enough to launch men and women into the executive suite. Leadership roles are given to those who also look and act the part.
I recent read a great bookEP by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. In it she states that today as in the past, professionals are still judged on their presence (how they act, speak, and look) as well as their performance.
The good news is you don’t have to born with executive presence . If you have a bit of self-confidence and a willingness to be open to feedback and change the executive presence skills are learnable. If you practice you can transform your ability to connect, engage, and inspire others.
Here are several tips on expanding your own executive presence.
1. Appearance and dress do matter. Looking the part is the first step in getting your foot into the leadership door. Executive Presence Guru, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says this about appearance, “We found that leadership roles are given to those who look and act the part.“ Notice the “uniform” of your organization and make sure you are dressing to fit the look the part of one who leads rather that one who follows. Focus on being well groomed, hair and nails count – Simple stylish clothes and accessories trump bold and flashy. Don’t wear wrinkled, soiled, or seams coming open clothing. Take time and invest in a career wardrobe that fits your body, your style, and your business environment.
2. Focus on building your character. The one word that continues to show up on every definition of executive presence is GRAVITAS-, which is the ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure, decisiveness, integrity, build your reputation, and show compassion.
3. Communication matters. Notice your communication style. Do you have empathy? Can you walk in another’s shoes and see their point of view?Are you open and a good listener?Are you clear in what you say? Do you communicate in a concise, compelling manor? Is your voice strong? And what about the non-verbal communication? How are people reading your body language and do you have the ability to read other?
4Are you inclusive?The other day I was waiting for a client in the lobby and I noticed a diverse group of people standing in a circle headed by an attractive man who appeared to be the group’s leader. He was commanding, energetic, and had many of the qualities mentioned above. I felt his executive presence, but I noticed that he was talking to only one other man in the group, ignoring the other six. Several were trying to listen and a few even tried to add something to the conversation, but the leader ignored their efforts. He needed a lesson on inclusion. People who have executive presence are approachable and engaging, whether they’re talking with a new hire, receptionist, or the CEO. They are inclusive, they exude warmth and they show a genuine interest in those around them..
5. Here’s my favorite- Become a master of presentation skills – face to face, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and webinars – Never underestimate the value of a great theater! Practice, get a coach, and practice some more- Learn how to connect with your audience, tell stories (I teach my students make them “Right and Tight”) and let your authenticity and personality shine through – Yes, you need to video yourself (If you need help in this area email me.)
6. Lastly you have to be open to receive feedback. Those who are oversensitive to feedback will not make the grade-We are talking “product development” here and YOU are the product. There will be moments where improvement is necessary.
There is a very thin line between authenticity and conformity. As you explore your executive presence and your ability to connect and lead, more of who you are will shine through. The first step is getting you in the leadership line.
One of the perks of being a professional speaker is that I get to hang out with really smart people, which means I often I get to pick their brains.
Take for instance last Sunday night when I had dinner with one of the top executive coaches in Houston, Cecilia Rose. Cecilia works Houston’s top tier leaders helping them successfully navigate through career transitions.
I asked her what was the #1 top quality of successful leaders, and before I could finish the question, she responded with “keen self-awareness.” Expecting to hear words more like vision, charisma, and strategic thinking, I was thrilled to hear that answer because self-awareness is one of the key qualities I emphasize in all my presentations ( Unwritten Rules of Success)
“Your IQ will get you the job but your EQ (Emotional Intelligence – Self Awareness) will get you the promotion” Cecilia Rose
To define the term, self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is the essential building block in effective leadership. Having an “awareness” of yourself and the people around you will help you effectively lead and inspire all you come in contact with.
So, the underlying question is: How do you develop self-awareness? Here are some steps to follow to bring you to this level of moving more assuredly in the world.
1.Take and Take-in your Personality Assessment – If you digest what it says about yourself, your Self-Awareness will grow. I was in my 20s when I took the Myers Briggs personality test—and I scored an ENFP, which means that I am a passion-driven “idea” person. ENFPs gain energy from interacting with others, and become quickly excited over new possibilities and ideas … and don’t always finish what they have started. ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details,
Throughout the years I have taken a lot of personality tests, such as DISC, the Birkman,The Enneagram,True Colors, and just last month I took the Insights Discovery Assessment. It took me an hour to complete because every question came down to a split decision, and I really tried to be honest in my answers. The eagerly anticipated report arrived from it: “Karen may generate more ideas, possibilities, and plans in one day than others might manage in a month! Her life will tend to be a series of initiated, but unfinished projects. She should take care to include the practical details in her projects and continually try to look at situations from an objective viewpoint rather than just her own perception. Her energy comes from a variety of new projects and interests.”
“If one person calls you a horse’s ass, be curious. If two call you one, be reflective… if three call you a horse’s ass buy a saddle.” Anonymous
If you are interested in developing your self-awareness, you may want to revisit the assessments you have taken and “take-in” what has been written about you.
2.Participate in a 360 assessment. There can be a world of difference between what you think you project and what others think of you. I worked with a coach several years ago, and she had me ask my clients the four questions below as we developed my personal brand. In finding people to help you get answers, branch out and include bosses, peers, and subordinates. You can even include neighbors, friends, and if you are brave—family members. But they can be the most brutal, so give them the questions in writing and let them have time to think about their answers.
Please give a one-word or one-phrase answer to the following questions
1. What one word describes my personality?
2. What value or principle do you most closely associate with me?
3. What skill, ability, or talent comes to mind when you think of me?
4. How would you describe me to others who have never met me?
3. Take the StrenghtsFinder: To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment in 2001, StrengthsFinder ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents. In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment. Take time and discover your top five strengths.
4. Listen … to yourself. Start listening to your own voice and observe how others react to your tone and your words. Begin to set aside time in the morning before work and replay some of the scenarios of the previous day. How did your voice and maybe even your body language affect others.
5.Cultivate your ability to focus. “Focus is the hidden driver of excellence,” according to Daniel Goleman. If you can block out the noise and silence your inner distracters, you will begin to see situations more clearly and how you fit into the picture. Because I am an ENFP, focus has always been a challenge for me. Three years ago, I started a yoga class, and I noticed that I spent more time watching others, comparing myself to them. I decided that if I was going to grow and enjoy the classes, I had to close my eyes and focus on my own practice. The outcome was that yoga has helped me attain focus.What are you doing to grow your focus?
Please share your thoughts on self- awareness and add to the list any thoughts or strategies you have tried or are thinking about trying.
I have been speaking on “Generations in the Workplace” for nearly 10 years. And a few short years ago, there were just a handful of Millennials in my audiences.
Today my audiences are filled with people 35 and under as the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to swell. Recently, Pew Research released the news that more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (i.e., adults aged 18 to 34 in 2015), and furthermore this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce.
By 2017, half the U.S. workforce will be Millennials and they are shaking things up as they change the world of work. We are discovering that Millennials seek a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are a bit impatient and want to proceed along their career path more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers ever did.
So,I decided to write a post helping Millennials as well as Boomers and Gen Xers speed up their career advancement
Reality bites … and the reality is that today there are still powerful Unwritten Rules in every organization that stand in the way of your success. These are the Unwritten Rules that must be addressed for career advancement. My goal in this post is to help not only Millennials but all generations understand advancement strategies and recognize opportunities to make key decisions about their career options.
Here are my suggestions for conquering the Unwritten Rules:
Be Observant: Begin a new job or new department or team by closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. Observe—how things get done. Your workplace success requires a deep understanding of how the organization or new team functions and how decisions are made. Be fully aware of the politics and notice where the political landmines exist. Political know-how (the unwritten rule) is important—and those who fail to develop such skills are often the ones who get left behind.
“You can observe a lot by watching.” —Yogi Berra
Discover: Now that you understand your organization find out where you fit into the big picture. Every organization has a culture that sets the tone for the types of people who are hired. You need to know why you were hired, where you fit into the organization, and how your superior sees your career path in the organization.
Share your Goals: Speak up and effectively communicate your career goals, your ideas, desired assignments, and when the time is right, ask to be considered for promotion.
Build your Relationshipsand Grow your Circle of Influencers: Start your list of 25 people you admire, people you can learn from, leaders, gatekeepers, and people in your organization who have enthusiasm and ideas. Then join your organizations, formal and informal networking groups, and, as Keith Ferazzi once said, “Never eat alone.” Make it a point of having lunch with members of your team and those in your circle of influence.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Be a Giver: Figure out how to cultivate your list of 25 and grow the relationship BEFORE you ask for advice or a favor. Share your talents (perhaps in technology) and be open to teaching others.
Increase your visibility: Volunteer to give a presentation! Did that scare you? Do your homework—practice, practice, practice, and make it a great one. Become known and get involved.
Take pride in how you show up. Although we are seeing a more flexible work trend—dress still matters! How you dress for work is even more complicated today than years past. The casual dress trend combined with today’s increased focus on “snug-fitting” clothes makes it clear that deciding how to dress for work takes some thought and preparation. Every business has a culture and every culture has a costume. Make sure your day-to-day outfits fit your company’s look and feel … and are “company appropriate. Some professional cultures still require suits while others, such as the tech cultures, are more relaxed and you may even get by with a grey hoodie … if you are Mark Zuckerberg. Be mindful of the image you want to project at work with clients and peers, and choose outfits based on cues from those you admire around you.
“Remember, whatever you do at work, no matter how small it is, has your signature on it! Make it clear,bold, & easy to read!” Karen McCullough
What unwritten rule have you discovered? Can you share examples where you have turned your discovery into opportunity? Please share your thoughts below
Southwest Airlines Taught me the True Meaning of Inclusion! Thanks Ellen, Jeff, Gary, Liji, and the whole SWA team. You walk your talk.
I travel across the country speaking on change and generations in the workplace and I can assure you that there is no silver bullet when it comes to managing and marketing to Millennials—people born after 1980 and especially those now leaving college. The key to successfully managing—and marketing to—this generation begins with understanding them. They look at their world, lifestyle, and work very differently than the generations preceding them do. The unpopular news is that you have to meet Millennials where they are. Yes, it does take more energy, but if you invest the extra time, you’re more likely to keep them in your organization and grow their talent. The bottom line is that forcing them to conform to your way will only push them away.
Workplace expectations that Millennials have include:
A few years back I decided to make short, informative, and fun videos sharing a lesson that I (a professional speaker) learned while on the road. Partnering with videographer Mike Svat we strive to create stories that will put a smile on your face,information in your head,and a little motivation in your belly!
Here they are: The Top 5 Lessons from the Road Videos that had the most views:
#1. Gen X always a winner: Lessons from the Road #11 – Gen X Is the Bridge between Boomers and Millennials
#2. Turn a Negative into a Positive- Dealing with rejections
#3.Stress Relief – I need a to-do list
#4. Push Yourself to the Edge
#5. She Left Just before LeBron Came Back (My sister Patty made the list!)
Last week, I was at the UPSTART LIVE Spring Summit – New Strategies & Solutions in the Global War for Talent as the opening second-day keynote speaker of the conference. This event had a unique focus—it was highlighting HR recruiting in the Oil and Gas industry. Since I was keynoting the opening on the second day, I decided to make good use of my time and attend some of the first-day presentations.
The conference had a sweeping range of topics and interactive sessions along with peer-to-peer round tables. (Jeff Hurt, you would have been pleased.) Because my subject matter for my address was around the generations succeeding together in the workplace, I was very interested in some of the generational success stories shared by several of the corporate participants.
It was like adding fuel to my tank … a lot of my long-held concepts were confirmed as I continued to listen, learn, and grow. Now I want to shout from the mountaintop because I am so excited to share what I have learned. For years, I have been saying that in our world today when we talk about the generations in the workplace, we have to realize that the core conflict arises from trying to fit an increasing nontraditional workforce into a traditional work environment.
Here are a few things I discovered at the conference:
1. LinkedIn is where the future of recruiting lies. Attending this session was so amazing and informative. Chris Kelleher, senior sales manager at LinkedIn shared the power of LinkedIn sourcing tools and employment branding services. He mentioned that companies and organizations must have a strong brand presence on LinkedIn and candidates need to get active in using key words and updating profiles.
2. There was a lot of emphasis placed on the knowledge gap. Back 30 to 40 years ago, there was a tremendous hiring of engineers who stayed in the oil and gas industry. These Boomers have gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience in that industry, and they need to share the knowledge before they retire. Some people have suggested mentoring programs, but I was excited to hear David Kent speak. David is the founder of Houston’s Oilpro.com, which is an oil and gas social network launched to bridge the industry’s generation gap. David said that Oilpro is an online community of oil and gas professionals interested in connecting with colleagues, advancing their skills, building credibility around their expertise, staying current, and exploring exciting new opportunities.
3. I got excited as I heard about all the innovative things that oil and gas companies are doing to KEEP the talent. Here are some of the findings and solutions:
Laura Ramey, VP of HR at Crestwood Midstream, shared her experiences working with Boomers. She said that the most important thing to remember when engaging Boomers is to remember to give them attention and recognition. Boomers like to know that they are still in the loop, and that they are motivated by being valued and needed. (How about that for switching perspectives?)
Edda Tinis, the Learning and Development Director for Air Liquide, has worked on programs that successfully increased retention rates for both Gen X and Y employees for more than 10 years.In 2000, Air Liquide created a two-year rotation for all new college hires. The programs consist of four different rotations each lasting six months. In addition to the tech/operations/rotations, new hires have training in really interesting and necessary subjects such as networking, career development, the FISH Philosophy, negotiating skills, teamwork, CPR, safety and risk management, volunteer opportunities, and my favorite business—etiquette.
After hearing all this great information, I decided to shift my keynote address and put the focus on Gen X. I challenged Gen X to take on the leadership role by understanding that the conflict arises from trying to fit an increasingly nontraditional workforce into a largely traditional workplace. Gen X can be the leaders of creating the new work environment by using their knowledge, creativity, and skill to lead, manage, and guide both the Boomers and the Gen Ys. (Thank you, Edda, for giving me the fuel.)
So, I appeal to you, Gen X. It’s up to you to help all of us understand and value the strengths and differences of each generational group—leverage the strengths of each and create a work environment that values differences.
My newest program for leadership, sales, marketing!
Move over Cool Food, storytelling isn’t just for kids anymore – it’s serious business! Your stories are a powerful tool that can help you advance your career, move you into a leadership role, help you sell more, speak more, and build a memorable professional brand.
We each have a story inside us waiting to be told. Powerful stories do more than entertain – they can establish rapport, motivate teams, make the sale, relieve stress, build trust, manage expectations and so much more…
Photo Flickr: Alan Cleaver.
Ultimately, we are remembered by our story, but nobody will tell your story if you don’t first tell it yourself.
Recently I presented my NEW PROGRAM The Power of Your Story to Collaborate Marketplace in Denver and it was a great success.
If you want to learn how to tell your story and have a great time while learning, come to my Story Telling workshop on July 19th In Houston Texas. Read all about it here! Learn how to make your story right and tight and hold the listeners attention.
Your Story will Rock so just remember…
1. Stories are one of the most underutilized tools in business today. Use your story to your advantage.
2. It’s best when you Add some emotions…because stories create Emotions which stimulates Motivation that cranks up Action and creates Results.
3. They may forget your name but they will remember your story if you make it STICKY!
4. A great story is repeatable!
5. People want to hear your secrets to success!
Stay committed and practice, practice, practice!. If you
and Put your story in your presentation- You’ll thank me! because Stories Stick! So, Email, Text, Tweet or FB me if you need a little help!
“The best solutions are often formed as a culmination of many ideas offered by lots of people. If you’re not paying attention, think about what you might miss.” Karen McCullough
YOU: Excuse me boss, do you have a second? I have an idea that might….
THE BOSS: Sure, oh… wait- here’s an important text
YOU: No problem.
THE BOSS: Okay, back to you. What a call- it’s my wife- I need to check it out! Okay, back to you.
YOU: Well, I was thinking that….
THE BOSS: Hey somebody…that customer is trying to get someone’s attention.
YOU: Sure, I can wait.
THE BOSS: Okay, back to you.
YOU: I think I’ve lost my train of thought. Let’s talk again some other time when things aren’t so hectic.
It’s loud out there, and chances are, you – and others around you – are distracted. Your smart phone is buzzing, pinging, texting, tweeting, and ringing. The person in front of you in line at Costco has on head phones and playing air guitar; no eye contact happening here. XM music is playing in the background and the flat screens across the way are showing news from the Middle East, college football games, Finding Nemo and everyone seems to be yelling into their Bluetooth’s.
It’s just too much noise and sadly we are tuning out! Do you ever find yourself looking face to face with a friend, a colleague, and at times even a customer – they’re talking, and all you hear is, “Blah, Blah, Blah,” like the teacher in the Charlie Brown specials?
If you find that you are tuning people out, it’s time to stop. No, I didn’t say hit pause, I said stop. It’s time to learn how to LISTEN UP! Your skills as a listener can make or break your success in business and your life.
Many of us don’t consciously realize that listening is a critical component in the communications loop and that it takes skill. We think listening just happens, that it doesn’t involve practice, and that we don’t need to make an effort to effectively hear what people are saying. Talking – not listening – is important, and in many cases we are thinking not about what someone is telling us, but what we’re going to say when they finally stop talking.
Another listening issue is caused by our inflated egos. According to a recent study by the Harvard Business Review, people think that the voice mail they send is more important than the voice mail they receive. Generally, senders think that their message is more helpful and urgent than do the people who receive it. Just think of all we’re missing when we see ourselves as the only one with the good ideas.
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 elevate the important of listening. Let’s start by calling listening Active Listening. According to Wikipedia, Active Listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. Active Listening can also be viewed as a gift (honoring the other person by giving our time and attention) as well as a skill to be mastered.
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! ) So Rule #1 is to Stop the Talking!
2. Look at the person who is talking. Take time to notice their facial expression 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, tone of voice as well as their words.
“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” Peter Drucker
3. Focus and eliminate distractions. Turn off the cell phone and the TV, and put down the 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. Stop multitasking while pretending to listen. How many times have you been on the phone with one person and sending an e-mail to someone else?
4. Don’t make assumptions, jump to conclusions, or react before the speaker has had a chance to express herself. Don’t try to solve the problem before they have completed presenting their issue.
5. 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.
6. Ask good questions. Learn how to create thought-provoking conversation that relates to the speaker’s topic. Ask meaningful questions that get to the heart of the matter. A good question gets the speaker to think more deeply and can expand the conversation. Ask questions that start with how or why to really get them to elaborate. Once you get them to open up paraphrasing and summarizing what they have said will demonstrate that you are listening to them. You might even want to take notes during your interaction, this will force you to listen well and show the boss or sales prospect that you care enough to write down what they are saying.
7. Ask for feedback. 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 eases miscommunication.
8. Repeat what people say. Offering a comment like, “Let me be sure I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that…?” helps prevent misunderstandings and show that you are really listening.
Practicing active listening skills will transform your interaction with others, generating solutions and ideas born of creativity and collaboration and enriching your business, social connections and life in general. By honoring others with your time and attention you will certainly energize the conversation, be more productive, reduce errors, sell more, be more innovative, come up with ideas and solutions that you’d never find on your own and have more friends and a better love life…
If you’ve been reading or listening to the news you’ve heard about NEWS OF THE WORLD, Britain’s 160+ year old tabloid journal and the unethical phone hacking practices. You may have also heard that the leaders of this organization claim that they knew nothing about the incidences…Really?
Maybe every organization should follow the example of Zappos and make a Video of their company’s core values…and watch it once a week.