Freaked-Out about Technology? Lesson I learned from a Gen Y

I remember when I first started putting Power Point into my keynotes. I freaked out  when projector couldn’t find my my Mac and I had to go it alone …Then I added music and I freaked out when the sound was so soft the audience strained to hear Ice Ice Baby …Then I added video to the Power Points and I freaked out about the quality of the movie…

I guess I am a technology freak.

Then, last year I started working with Crystal Washington, a Gen Y social media and marketing guru creating Socialtunities workshops, and I learned that at times technology fails…get use to it! If you don’t try new ways of doing your presentations and keynotes you are not growing. Today the audience is forgiving when it comes to technology. Everyone knows that at times technology will fail. – Just keep on learning, growing, and trying new technology! Thanks Crystal…

BTW Crystal is offering an advanced Social Media Webinar for business owners, sales manages and professionals who  want to learn  how you can better leverage social media to connect with powerful influencers, attract clients, and get sales. Read all about is here – just click on classes…Crystal has helped so many grow their business with social media that she now has her own segment on Fox. She is the real deal!

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

Fact Tell and Stories SellRr2m6pKNG_UAXsPnZW3ZnHIRjK5Yq1lKf7mzmPalybE

                                                        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!


New Hires Miss the Mark- Many are not job ready when they graduate from college.


Gen Y, the good news is that the hiring of college grads is up this year. The best opportunities for new graduates are in the areas of business, engineering, computer sciences, and accounting. The bad news is that many employers are finding that their new hires are not job ready. The new world or work needs good communicators, team players and engaged employees. Watch the video to see what’s up.

My Dad, 104 Years Young – Mike’s 10 Tips for Staying Young and Lively


Mike Speranza 1906-2011

My dad, Michael August Speranza- Mike, lived to be 104 years young.  My parents were “older” when I was born and as a child and teen I always considered them in the category of my friends grandparents…they were really old in my young eyes! It wasn’t until my dad turned 80 that I started noticing that he was so YOUNG and COOL! I love you so much dad!

This is what I learned watching you live your long and beautiful 104 years of life.

Lessons learned from Mike!

1.  Exercise! Exercise! Exercise! My dad never missed a day without doing his hour routine in front of the full length mirror in the hall bathroom.  Push-ups, leg-lifts, squats…I think he was doing Pilates  before it became popular. When he and my mom moved into Independence Village (he was 95 when they left their home) he walked a mile a day-every day until he was 103…then he slowed down.

2. Get excited about something. Have passion! and then PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE. Mike loved golf and he was really good at it.  There is a  Cleveland Plain Dealer article here in my office with the headline, Par for the Course…Lyndhurst golfer, 85, shoots a 72. That Lyndhurst golfer was Mike!

When I was a kid, my dad would have me chip 9 iron shots aimed at a box maybe, 15 yards away, and give me a quarter for every shot that made it into the box!

3.  Eat healthy and when possible grow your own tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers and swiss chard! Every night in the summer my mom would go out into the small garden and pick the lettuce and tomatoes for that night’s salad. Salad and vegetables every night! Swiss chard was not my favorite but Dr Oz says it’s a must! I have decided to start a garden this fall in honor of Mike!

4.  Fill your life with friends and when you get older it’s a good idea to start hanging out with younger people. My dad was very social and both he and my mom did something almost every weekend with friends.  When Mike turned 90 he was still golfing almost every weekend.  That’s when he started hanging out with  the young  70 year olds because people his age weren’t golfing!(and they weren’t living)

Mike is the second one in- He looks pretty darn good for age 90!

5. Nothing good happens after midnight! “Get 8 hours of sleep- God love ya!”

6. Laugh and lot… have fun everyday and don’t take yourself so seriously. Here’s a picture of all of the guys in our family with Tony Soprano… my dad is “Junior” sitting next to Tony! Mike loved a good cigar!

(picture taken from Cigar Aficionado – family photos superimposed)

7.  Keep learning and growing…never STOP! When Mike was in his early 80’s he was offered a job at Beachwood Place Mall near our house.  Mom and Dad’s neighbor was the manager of the mall, and he hired my dad to work form 8 AM – noon each day making sure the plants were watered.  Looking back on it, I am sure that this was an innovative  marketing idea. My dad was so cute and friendly he became the mall mascot. People would come by just to see Mike!  I remember that  was when he  bough his first pair of Gap jeans, a baseball jacket, and Nike’s…!

8.  Everything in moderation!

Mike second one in age 92-Cheers Dad!

9.  Don’t explain and don’t complain. No excuses ever!  Need I say more!  I can’t remember ever hearing either of my parents complain about life, aches or pains, or anything!  Now that doesn’t mean that they didn’t argue…hey, we’re Italian!

10. Dance like nobody’s watching. My dad was a dancer and he had a beautiful partner for over 76 years.

My mom Rose Speranza

Mike and Rose you are so loved! Thank you for all you have taught us!

BTW…I took a test on the internet to see how long I would live.  I typed in both Mike’s and Rose’s ages and it said that I might live to 118…So, I started smoking!

Gen X is the Bridge between the Boomers and the Y’s

Generation X (those born 1965-1979) were raised to  operate independently. Women were leaving the homemaker role behind, and heading off to work. The working mom in the 70’s  had no daycare or nannies to watch over her children.  Many Gen X preteens/teens  were now in charge! Boomers dubbed them the “latch key kids”-  with no parents hovering over them Gen X became independent. They developed traits of  resilience , creativity, and adaptability. So, they don’t want you or anyone micromanaging them. They were raised to operate independently.


Productivity – No Pain-No Gain!

In this Lessons from the Road, Karen McCullough (Me) talks about success in reaching our goals.  Productivity often depends on our attitude and our involvement and desire to reach our goal. Sometimes we get a little lazy and we don’t put in the effort. Studies show that  we achieve our goals faster when there is a little negativity and even some pain involved when we fail to reach our goal.  OUCH!!!! Watch and find out!

Distractions-Distractions-Distractions- Productivity Come to Me!

abc8a43716ec230f321a45d8_168x126I am addicted to reading articles on productivity – maybe that’s because as a self-employed woman working exclusively out of my home office I need all the help I can get to stay focused and keep motivated. With the flexibility to set my own hours, I have discovered that I am not restricted to a regular 9-to-5 workday. Instead, I enjoy mixing it up, like hitting the morning exercise class circuit, maybe having lunch with colleagues, and then working well into the night. This blending my work-life and my life-life into a new uber-flexible lifestyle provides me with a huge amount of freedom – which is great, except for that on flip side, I also need to have a tremendous amount of self-discipline.

And that’s why I need to read a lot about productivity.

Like many of us, I can easily get distracted and pulled away from my work. Take for example, I could be sitting at my laptop, maybe in my kitchen, and right in the middle of a sentence I get an overwhelming urge to get up out of my seat, go into the bathroom and to check out which of my two new blushes looked better on me: Apricot Sheen or Pink Raspberry? Hold on … yup, Apricot Sheen wins hands down.

Because I can get pulled off course at the drop of a pin, I need help from the experts, so I am constantly reading blogs, articles and the latest research on productivity – which ironically can eat away at my productive time if I go down one too many rabbit holes, but I am hoping it will all pay off in the long run.

Here are some recent findings

This week I discovered that we are more productive when we remove distractions – kind of obvious, but you might be surprised just how many things can be distracting.

For example, I should be in my office writing this article right now and not in the kitchen, which, as we have already discussed, is full of distractions. How many distractions can you find in my kitchen? (see end of blog for answers)

Sunny beautiful days also offer lots of distractions, which may be why we are more productive on yucky, cloudy days and why the rain turns us into super-human productive machines.

Keep the distraction theory in mind when you are organizing your office for optimal productivity. Turn tables and desks away from the windows, and put a photo a cute kitty cat, your adorable children or a line of fluffy ducklings, as your screensaver. Researchers have discovered that cute images actually enhance our mental focus. (This is for real)  If you stare at a cute image for about 90 seconds a day you can sharpen your focus and reduce your error rate.


Finally, before you start turning the thermostat down to subzero (take note here ladies) studies show that we are most productive when the temperature is set at 77 degrees. Temperatures below 72 actually dampen our productive spirits.

Consequences vs. rewards

When we are taking productivity, consequences win.  Remember the saying, “No Pain- No Gain”? Well, research suggests that we are more productive when there is a little pain involved, since one of the ways we get into action is by setting consequences for ourselves. Writers and artists who often suffer from creative blocks are experts in the practice of consequences. Because they operate under strict deadlines, they have often  look for serious ways to motivate themselves to be productive, and some have been known to make deals with them selves using  punishment if they do not meet a deadline.


Listen to one of my favorite podcasts where author Oliver Sacks was struggling to finish a book and he could not more forward. He was stuck, and after all else failed he decided to impose a deadline on himself that could be fatal…he finished the book.

Why does this work? We are programed to have an aversion to loss. Take the study of 150 Chicago public school teachers. University of Chicago economist John List divided the teachers into two groups and told both groups that their bonuses would be directly related to their students’ test scores. Teachers in group A would receive their bonus at the end of the year if the students’ test scores improved, while teachers in Group B received their full bonus in September, with the agreement that they would return it if their students’ test scores did not improve. Group B’s test scores came out higher than Group A’s by about 7 percentage points. I found this very interesting and a really good insight into our behaviors.

So now we know – we can boost productive behavior by setting consequences and eliminating distractions. That means …

hold on a second, I just want to go see how I would look as a red head. If I’m not back to work in 5 minutes I owe you 20 bucks.


How many distractions did you find in my kitchen? There are at least 10. How about: (1) plants need watering, (2) dirty dishes in sink, (3) time to rearrange the spice drawer, (4) check out the grout between tiles – scrub, scrub, (5) gratitude time – got to send thank you note for flowers, (6) did i return that library book? (7) do I need more coffee filers – what other groceries do I need?, (8) when is the last time I cleaned the oven?, (9) how do you think those cabinets stay so white?, (10) snack time! Did you find more? Leave a comment your best distractions!


A Shot of Energy- How to Raise Your Happiness by 25%

“I can live two months on a good compliment.” Mark Twain

I just received a handwritten note from a client thanking me for a recent keynote presentation and sharing with me  some of the positive remarks received from audience members. Wow! Now that’s a piece of snail mail that’s worth opening! It is at touching moments like these that I can’t help but smile, and I naturally stop and notice how truly grateful I am for the kind of work I get to do. And I am especially grateful for the amazing clients (and you know who you are) I am fortunate enough to work with. At these moments, right now, my heart is full of joy.


Right now. But…last week?

Last week nothing like this came in the mail. Last week the phone did not ring. Last week my heart was full of fear and reaction. That smile I have today is fleeting. So, here’s my question-

“How do I keep the joy?”

The ups and the downs in my business are a way of life. A bureau calls and requests a hold a date (joy!), but then maybe a week or two later they call back and cancel the hold because the client went in another direction (not joy). In my world – and I bet in yours too – praise and rejection go hand in hand. The challenge is – which one will I let linger? To be honest, these days the “not joy” feeling has been overstaying its welcome, and I am ready for a change. I want to shift my fear, negativity, and overall whininess towards a more positive focus.


I spent the morning doing a little Googling and I stumbled onto Brené Brown’s research exploring the relationship between joy and gratitude. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame (and she’s awesome). She said that before she did this research on joy and gratitude she believed that people who where joyful were grateful for the good in their life. But that was not exactly the case. Rather, after her 12 years of research she discovered that when it comes to joy there is a BIG difference between occasionally, almost accidentally, feeling grateful and actively, routinely PRACTICING gratitude – people who actively practice gratitude (think keeping a gratitude journal, writing thank you notes, sharing gratitude with others, etc.) have more joy in their life.


Another researcher, Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at University of California, Davis, found that when you practice gratitude on a daily basis you actually raise your overall happiness by 25%! From his work focusing on the psychology of gratitude, he confirms that the best way to actually practice gratitude is to put your positive thoughts on paper to concretely, purposefully affirm goodness. He shows that there is a strong correlation between gratitude and joyfulness, and when you practice gratefulness daily you will increase positive outcomes, happiness and an overall sense of well-being.

Hey, I want more of that! So instead of waiting for that next great note to arrive in the mail, here are some tips on how to actively practice gratitude on a regular basis:

1.  Commit to it! Be intentional that you will be grateful. It’s amazing how we can quickly turn nearly everything into a negative. A recent example of this: April 15th I get hit with a double wammie- I have to pay the IRS not only my taxes for the year we are filing but I also have to pay my estimated tax for the year we are in.  A few weeks ago I was so grateful for receiving  a fairly substantial check from my mortgage company explaining to  me I had an overage in my escrow account. Hurray!!! Tax money come to me- but…  when I went to  my writing the check to the IRS I found myself ungrateful-self complaining that I had to turn my beloved escrow check over to the IRS instead of taking a vacay…Think Grateful!

2. Keep a daily gratitude journal. Don’t make it too hard…get a notebook and start each morning or end each day  jotting down 4 or 5 things that you are grateful for and do it every day. No fancy notebook, no computer program required.

3. Start writing thank-you notes and mailing them.  Dr Roizen (Oprah loves him and his Dr. Oz’s partner/co. author,  and chief  of Wellness at the  Cleveland Clinic) revealed that he writes two thank you notes each evening before going to bed.  It is a ritual that he has integrated into his life that helps him end his day in gratitude.

4. While we are on the “Thank You’s” say it more often and when you say it mean it...  try texting your kids a thank you and see what happens- (TY 4 MakeN U R BED AML)

5. Take a gratitude walk with no distractions. No phone calls, texts, no, not podcasts,no NPR, just you and maybe your dog…for me Wally, and let nature take over as the gratitude flows out.

5.  Incorporate gratitude into morning exercise routines- Stay in your downward-dog a few seconds longer and think about what you are grateful for… and I be a lot of it will have to do with your flexibility and energy.

Wally McCullough

6.  Create a family ritual. Every Thanksgiving we go around the table and share what we are thankful for.  Why not add this ritual to your daily life. Before your family begins the evening meal share with each other something good that happened that day.

7. While you are at it Tell Me Something Good and keep looking for the Silver Lining.

Please add other tips to help up create our gratitude practice.


Tips I Gained after a Gen Y Night- or #IStillGotIt

No one wants to look or feel old and outdated, but let’s be honest, it can happen even to the most hip among us. I know this firsthand because it just happened to me. Last week I attended a huge after-work networking event where it was specified on the invitation to wear business attire. I walked in armed with my black suit and my Boomer self-confidence, but as soon as I entered the ballroom and saw it filled with mostly people under 30 (yup, the Gen Yers), I started to feel old.

Then I heard that, critical little inner voice whisper in my ear: “whoa, you’re outdated!” Over the years I have learned that the key to avoiding this feeling and silencing the voice in the future is to learn from the experience … So, I decided to jot down a few tips I acquired that night while taking in the behaviors of the mostly Gen Y attendees.

Here we go:

  • Forget the explicitly stated dress code, ladies … always wear a one-shoulder or strapless little black cocktail dress.
  • Talk fast and laugh often.
  • Have a really cool and totally unique business card.
  • Take a ton of photos of yourself – that is, you with everyone possible. You can do this by asking a (preferably old and outdated) passer-by (Me) to snap the photo and share it on Instagram. Better yet, just take a #selfie (for anybody over the age of 40, a #selfie is the kind of photo you take your yourself with your iPhone). Or for a little fun, why not photobomb ( That’s where you hop into a picture before it is taken like President Clinton is doing to Kelly Clarkson…Hey isn’t he a boomer and she’s a Y?). But whatever your tactic, above all, do not forget to add the hash tag when posting it on twitter.
  • Skip the dinner. Just come for the cocktails.
  • But if you stay for the dinner make sure you snap a photo of your food. (#whatiate, #foodporn, #yummy)
  • Eat gluten free
  • While the speaker is presenting keep your eyes on your phone and tweet as often as possible.



Seriously, the #1 thing I got out of the night was that they showed up and they showed up with confidence- they smiled, they laugh and they were not afraid to show their star-power! They were there, connecting with each other, laughing and networking. They showed up and they showed up happy!

Sure it might be easier to just poke fun at this generation. But that behavior will hold you back. The world is changing. And it’s fast becoming their world. So, it may be time to rethink a few things. Sometimes we have to open our eyes to Listen-Up.

Gen Y is writing the script for their generation and it’s different from mine, as mine differed from my parents. They text, they photo-journal their adventures, they tweet and share their experience with those who couldn’t make it. They care about their health and what  they eat, and… they dress up!
Hey…I get it!
Some of us may not be under 30, but no need to feel old and outdated. If we are open to new ways of doing things, if we bend a little, and are open to change, if we can be more interested and more engaged- we too will say- #IStillGotIt!

Can Too Much Praise Actually Hurt Self-Esteem- and what about trophies?

I believe it may have been Oprah (lol) who started the self-esteem movement back in the 1980s (around the time that Gen Yrs were being born). Following her lead, a California task-force brought the movement into our schools, declaring every child is special. It was around that time that the word AWESOME crept into our vocabulary, along with “super,” as in super-smart, oh and amazing.

The trophy epidemic soon followed where every child who was on the team, no matter if they played in the game or not, was a winner. Everyone got a trophy just for showing up. Our hearts were in this movement because we love our kids and we just wanted to ensure they had sufficient amount of self-esteem, something we did not get growing up.

So if a little bit of sugar-coating is good, is a lot of the sweet stuff even better? Research says, No. In fact, we are over-praising our kids and it is hurting their future.


When we continually praise children, we may think that we’re building their self-confidence, but experts have discovered that too much praise can actually have a negative effect – making them self-centered, praise-dependent and risk-adverse. It can also diminish their work ethic.

One of the dangers of praising a child too much is that a child may begin to behave explicitly for the praise and for the applause, rather than for the experience of what the child is interested in doing or learning.

In a study of 400 school-age children, one group was praised for being smart and the other group was praised for working hard. What might surprise a lot of us is that the children who were praised for their intelligence fared really poorly later in life. They didn’t want to learn things that might lead them to make mistakes. They were afraid to take a risk and appear to be not so smart after all.

Lesson learned: Praise a child for effort not for smarts or talent. 

So, saying to a child “you are really smart”, “you are brilliant”, “you are so talented”, and so on will not actually grow her self-esteem. But praising a child on the effort it took him to succeed – such as: “WOW, I can see that you really tried hard” encourages him to keep trying, working and growing.

Need more proof? Here’s a little something from the research in Tim Elmore’s Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids… and How to Correct Them.

Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a landmark book called, Mindset. In it she reports findings about the adverse affects of praise. She tells of two groups of fifth grade students who took a test. Afterward, one group was told, “You must be smart.” The other group was told, “You must have worked hard.” When a second test was offered to the students, they were told that it would be harder and that they didn’t have to take it. Ninety percent of the kids who heard “you must be smart” opted not to take it. Why? They feared proving that the affirmation may be false. Of the second group, most of the kids chose to take the test, and while they didn’t do well, Dweck’s researchers heard them whispering under their breath, “This is my favorite test.” They loved the challenge. Finally, a third test was given, equally as hard as the first one. The result? The first group of students who were told they were smart, did worse. The second group did 30% better. Dweck concludes that our affirmation of kids must target factors in their control. When we say “you must have worked hard,” we are praising effort, which they have full control over. It tends to elicit more effort. When we praise smarts, it may provide a little confidence at first but ultimately causes a child

Focus on the effort your child makes and then praise the effort. And…as far as the trophy thing goes – time to rethink how we are rewarding participation. Why not celebrate the end of season game with a fun party, where you continue building camaraderie and friendships. Think about saving the trophies for the most improved player, maybe the most enthusiastic, and the team that wins the most games (if you are keeping score). Encourage and praise the values of what it takes to win, including self-discipline, self-control, perseverance, dedication and practice. I believe that if you teach your children these traits and self-esteem will take care of itself.