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.

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 .

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 to Write a Killer LinkedIn Recommendation

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I have to admit that I have neglected LinkedIn for a long time. Although I hopped on its platform years ago, most of my social time and energy went to the more playful and engaging sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

And then the light bulb went off … It happened one morning while I was watching CNBC’s Squawk Box when I heard Joe and Becky singing their praises about LinkedIn. They said that, although LinkedIn wasn’t as sexy as the other social sites, it was the “go-to” place for serious professionals and business owners (and motivational and business speakers) who wanted to make strategic connections and grow their brands. With more than 350 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Business owners and career professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at an astounding rate of more than 2.5 new members per second. And that’s just the beginning of LinkedIn’s potential.

After hearing all that, I got serious about LinkedIn!

 

One of the areas that I truly love on LinkedIn is the Recommendations Section. It’s the place where you get to leave a recommendation for your connections, who are friends, colleagues, vendors, customers, and even ex-customers. Now please be clear that I am not talking about the skills endorsement section where you just click on skills that LinkedIn suggests. To me that whole concept seems so fake, but that’s another blog post.

 

I am talking about the area where you get to actually write out a more in-depth and thoughtful recommendation for your connections. Posting a recommendation on LinkedIn is so much easier than sending a letter, and much more visible and permanent than an email as it will be there on their LinkedIn site forever. Now, that’s powerful!

 

Writing a recommendation for others has benefits not only to the person whom you are honoring, but it is also a light that reflects on you as the writer. When you write a thoughtfrecommendation, it tells the reader who you are in addition to the person you are praising. It can give us a peek into your personality, humanity, and your style.

Here are some tips on how to write a great LinkedIn recommendation (watch the video for examples):

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  1. Start with a killer first line that is authentic and memorable.
  2. Describe your relationship—tell us how you know the person.
  3. Share how their behavior, actions, or contributions helped you.
  4. Try to give an example of how they empowered their client, team, or organization.
  5. End with a note about the personal aspect of working with him/her.

Oh, one more thing—when you ask for a recommendation, make sure that you only ask people you know. Also make sure that you have a comfortable enough relationship with them to ask them to recommend you. Just because you are connected on LinkedIn or are Facebook buddies does not mean that they are informed enough to comment on your body of work. When I get requests from people I do not know, it is uncomfortable and a bit awkward.

 

If you get in the habit of writing one or two recommendations a week, you will find that you do not have to ask for recommendations. I call it the act of reciprocity. When people see that I have written a killer recommendation praising their professional talents, they more than likely will return the favor.

What are you waiting for? Start writing!

Tell Your Story – Put your ideas into the world

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For years stories have been a huge part of my business as a motivational business speaker. Today  storytelling  is a hot topic and has become so popular in business and marketing.  In a world  where we’re all striving to cut through the noise and make a lasting impression, stories have become a tool to get us noticed and remembered.  Great stories are memorable, they get our attention and stories put ideas into the world. Stories make the facts and figures come to life! Stories are sticky and fun and best of all, everyone has one…but your story, your signature story, will never be heard if you don’t tell it. 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou

Your Signature Story…

The days of canned, memorized speeches are long gone. Today audiences are hungry to see authenticity and vulnerability and connect on a deeper level with the speaker.

Stories are bridges from one mind to another.  Robert McKee

Your story has the ability to  weave a connection between you as a speaker and your audience.  We are living through dynamic times that are both inspiring and troubling, often at the same moment.  In the face of such dramatic change, we know how easy it is to get discouraged, disappointed, and even overwhelmed.  It is not hard to feel at times small and even insignificant. But as I travel and speak I have also seen that in the face of such unprecedented change, in addition to some big hurdles, there are also big opportunities.

Our stories help us realize that we are not facing any of this alone, and through our stories we can encourage, support and elevate our listeners.It all begins by identifying the obstacles of those who are listening. Once you know what keeps them up at night, you can tell your own personal story of how you stumbles and learned; struggled and conquered; questioned and found peace to move forward in your own life. Expect miracles from storytelling. 

Stories have power!

Once you begin to tell your story over and over…the magic happens.  After telling your signature story at every engagement, you become known for that story. Over time you become so good at performing your story that people ask for it again and again. Most speakers that I know personally have many great stories and the really successful ones have a signature story that stands out from all the rest.

How My Signature Stories Came to Be

In 1999 I closed my last clothing store in Houston, Texas and I was itchy to start another business with no inventory or rent to pay!   A good friend of mine invited me to a National Speaker’s Association local Houston chapter meeting and that was the night the class of 1999 “speaker newbies” were presenting on stage.  As soon as I saw a few of the presentations I was hooked, signed up and was accepted in the class of 2000 NSA Houston New Speaker School – where I learned the ins-and-outs of professional speaking.

In 2001 I began speaking professionally.  That spring I went to the Jazzfest in New Orleans, and that is where I met Sting (really)…and  my first signature story was born. It had all the right elements… a great setting, a challenge that I had to overcome, humor, and of course meeting Sting (at the NOLA airport on my way back to Houston)! Right off the bat, my Sting Story was a hit, and each time I performed I wove that story into my presentation. I kept improving the story and even had a $$$$$ coach work with me on making it even better.

( this takes me back to 2004 – 2007…I have improved!)

By 2004 I was being booked by clients asking for the Sting Story. Once I did not put I Sting into a presentation for an insurance client, because I didn’t think that it fit in the program and the planner was furious with me for leaving it out!

In 2007 I created a new story called  You Rock  and it took off…well .. like a rock-et! I started getting testimonials saying You Rocked It… and I put Sting away on the Shelf. After writing this piece I have decided to bring Sting back, dust him off, and introduce him to the Millennials. 

I am passionate about helping people create and present their signature story…

3 Reasons to Rebrand

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When my web analytics team told me I had 12 thousand hits on my website using the keyword “rebranding” I was blown away. Sure, I knew many organizations  and associations were in the midst of redefining their brand, but this level of interest did catch me off guard.

As a result of learning about the volume of inquiry regarding rebranding, I sat up, listened, and got excited! I decided to do a deep dive into the subject to learn more about rebranding and what people are saying about it. Here is what I found to be the major drivers for this massive rebranding trend.

 

The Customer Drives the Marketplace
We know that the customer has always been in charge of their decisions. What is different today is how the Internet has empowered customers to know more about making purchases and to react to buying decisions in a whole different way.

Today’s customer has the following traits:
• Always connected—many sleep with their phones!
• Hyper-informed: they know what they want before they buy.
• Have a choice overloaded: the competition is seconds away.
• Highly influenced by peer opinions.

 

This new customer behavior crosses all types of organizations. It’s true for large corporate industries and massive destination-city promotions. It’s true for nonprofit organizations and the mom-and-pop retail outlets. It’s true for anyone who depends on customers parting with their money in exchange for any goods or services.
Narrow Niche Target Audiences
Because the empowered customer has the attention span of a goldfish (thank you,Sally Hogshead), most organizations are forced to narrow their niche in order to be found by their target audience.
Take music, for example, you may not be noticed at all if your niche is simply music. But if you want to keep followers on their toes noticing your constant reinvention, target the audience who loves to see you break all the rules and wants you to find your own path. Lady Gaga has followed that road map to fame and fortune. Lady Gaga didn’t become the success she is today based solely on her ability to belt out a great song. She did so by as Jacki Hubba shares, creating a hugely loyal fan base through not only her music, but her message, and her community of fans (her tribe). She has a loyal group of fans that she lovingly calls her “monsters,” and she actually treats them as if they are Rock Stars! No one can beat her ability to brand herself effectively.

Success with the new customer means you must acutely listen to what your customers want.
Create systems to listen everywhere:
• Listen to the comments made to your personnel.
• Listen to the customer service call topics.
• Listen to the search terms used to find you.
• Listen to social media and get engaged in conversations there.
• Listen to internal customers (employees).

 

Change is the New Normal
Just this week I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of successful business owners. After my presentation, several of the attendees shared with me that they hated change—social media and technology—and they weren’t going to budge. They were a tough crowd! They reminded me of some of the audiences I had back in the early days of my speaking career—those successful business leaders who told me that they weren’t going to learn how to send emails because that’s what they had secretaries for!
I wonder how they are doing today?

In one of my “Lessons from the Road,” I talk about the most common myths about change.

The question is not “Will you change?” the question is “How will you respond to change?

Once we understand change is inevitable, rebranding becomes a natural reaction to those changes. Your rebranding today is not the final time you will need to change perceptions of your brand, so fully understand it is much more than hiring a graphic artist to develop a new logo and slogan for you.

Rebranding is a process of following the needs, desires, and patterns of your best customers and prospects. Notice the word “process.” Rebranding is not an event. It is a way of doing your business … and everyone in your organization is part of the brand.