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.

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.”

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

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

The Unwritten Rules of Success

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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 Relationships and 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

Managing & Marketing to Millennials

Managing & Marketing to Millennials

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:

Karen’s Top 5 Lessons from the Road

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!)

Square Peg in a Round Hole…or How to Fit a Nontraditional Workforce into a Traditional Workplace

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:

Meyerland Harris HR at HEB grocery stores, which hires many Gen Ys and Gen Zs, shared these suggestions when managing the younger workforce:

1. Explain your company’s vision

2. Prioritize community service

3. Develop in-between steps and titles

4. Give encouragement and regular feedback

5. Be flexible with schedules

6. Provide educational and personal development


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.

The Power of Your Story – Facts Tell and Stories SELL!

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                                                        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!


Listen Up! It’s Loud Out There

“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.

Sound familiar?

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.

Here are some steps to becoming an Active Listener. (Or bring Karen in Live)

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…

not bad for just listening…huh?

Got Core Values?

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.

Just a thought!

Want to Be More Productive? Get Happy!

A few months back, I was asked to present a keynote on productivity in the workplace. I was to speak  to 100 top executives in the oil services business.  I wanted to update my productivity program and began doing some research on “productivity in the 2011 workplace.” While I was reading, I received  a call from my sister Terry, who is not only print-maker and artist but also an art therapist. She recently attended the American Art Therapy Conference and was very impressed with Gioia Chilton’s session on Positive Psychology. She gave me some articles to read and a few TED videos to watch, and I became kind of obsessed with what I discovered about productivity.

In a nutshell, here’s what I found and what I presented to the group.

For the past 60 or so years, psychologist have been studying a “diseased model” – that is, doing their research with depressed, unhappy and unproductive patients, rather than the happy, healthy and more productive ones.

When psychologist started studying positive, happy people they found that there were three main differences between them and their unhappy counterparts.

According to their studies positive people:

  • Are social, seek out others and engage
  • Find meaning in their work and their life
  • Enjoy having fun and seek pleasure

So what does this have to do with productivity in the workplace?


What we know about productivity today is that in successful companies (think Apple, Google,  Zappos, Starbucks, Marriott, Southwest…) employees and teams that are connected, engaged, and have a voice are happy at work … and they’re productive!

Similarly, when we see meaning in our work and feel as though we are making a difference, not only do we feel more fulfilled, but we are also more productive. The reverse is also true. Studies show that when people do not find meaning in their work, or when they are given responsibilities with no authority, absenteeism is prevalent.

And finally, as Gen Y tells us over and over – work needs to be fun and pleasurable. Simply stated: when we have fun, we want to do more of it!

As I was giving the presentation, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the managers in the room were Gen X and they were eating this information up! They seek engagement at work and are frustrated with “closed door ” environments. They want a work-life balance and who doesn’t want to laugh and enjoy the day!

They loved this topic it showed. They participated with enthusiasm and they wanted to share their ideas and be a part of the program. Their reaction to the presentation made the one hour more productive than the old days of the speaker speaks and the audience listens. We turned the monologue into dialogue – and everyone got more out of it.

This is a huge SHIFT happening in my presentations and in the  workplace… and it excites me!

How To Introduce Yourself

by Lisa B. Marshall guest blogger

People quickly form strong opinions based on first impressions and that is why a well-crafted, strong, self-introduction is a critical part of making a good first impression. First impressions are very difficult change, so it is best when introducing yourself to be confident, strong, and self-aware.

See below answers to this weeks ‘Public Speaker Pop Quiz’ answering the question of how to properly introduce yourself:

Start with a Name
First, if possible, all introductions should start with the name of the other person. Of course, in a letter or on online, that’s easy to do: Dear Ariana or Hi Daniela. In person, it’s tempting to start with your own name, but if you know the name of the other person, use his name first. In a group setting, you can just say: ¨Hi, everyone!¨

Once you’ve said your greeting, then you should say your name. In fact, in a professional setting, it’s important to say your name twice. It’s also a good habit to slow down and say your name clearly. For example, “Hi Jane, I’m Lisa, Lisa Marshall.” Depending on the setting you may also want to include your title, your company, or appropriate context.

“Hi Mary, I’m Lisa, Lisa Marshall. I’m one of the speakers today. It’s great to meet you, Mary.
Notice, you’ll want to say the name of the other person twice as well. That will help you to remember her name and it shows your interest in her.

Communicate Proper Body Language
As you are saying these initial words, remember that the majority of your impact will come from your tone of voice and body language. Of course, with all introductions you’ll want to communicate enthusiasm by smiling, using direct eye contact, and speaking with an upbeat, positive tone of voice. In a business setting, you’ll likely also include a handshake.

You’ll want a firm, full-handed, web-to-web, handshake. Be sure to listen to my previous episode on effective handshaking and be sure to test your handshake on several folks before important introductions such as job interviews.

Along with a confident handshake, you’ll also need to walk and stand with confidence. That means walking slightly faster than normal, with your shoulders back. I always like to imagine someone pouring cold water down my back because this mental image helps me to move faster and keep the right posture.   Your goal is confidence but not over-confidence (that’s just intimidating and off-putting). And remember, fresh breath is important. Always carry mints with you.

Build a Rapport through Common Ground
Next, an important part of any introduction is to consider your audience. Who exactly are you introducing yourself to? What will they find interesting and compelling? What can you share that might help to quickly build common ground and help you make a connection?

The goal is to establish common ground and make a connection. It can be anything that you are both interested in. It doesn’t have to be school or business related. It doesn’t even have to be of great importance. Just be sure to start with “safe” obvious links and avoid controversial topics.

“Hi, Mary, I’m Lisa, Lisa Marshall. It’s great to meet you Mary. I’m a communication specialist and I’m also one of the speakers today. I’d love to hear who you thought was the best speaker so far?

Be Brief and Conversational
Notice that self-introductions should be short and conversational. After sharing very briefly about yourself, you then ask a question that helps lead your partner into a conversation. (The exception of course, is in an interview setting, where it’s best to let your interviewer lead the conversation).

It’s possible to be conversational even in writing–again by asking questions. In the letter from the principal to my girls, she encouraged them to write her back by asking them what they liked to eat and do during the summer.

Focus on Three Things Only
When the introduction details are your choice, I recommend picking three things that you think others in the group might be able relate to. Again, the idea is to build rapport. By choosing just three things, your introduction will be more memorable. In addition, you can expand and contract the length of your response by providing examples or details for each of your chosen three things.

Lisa B Marshall Passionate. Interactive. Expert. Funny. Practical. Authentic. Helping organizations and individuals to share, present, and discuss ideas in a compelling, concise, and productive manner.