Do You Have a Hidden Bias? and…How do you feel about Tattoos?


Do you have any hidden biases? I discovered that I do and I realized that biases could be holding me back! 

The more we study innovation the more we are learning that differences in ideas and thinking make for better, stronger, more innovative teams. We are also learning that innovation comes through inclusion. A good friend of mine, Martha Feeback with Catalyst, often says, “The difference between diversity and inclusion?  Diversity is being asked to the party. While inclusion is being asked to dance. Inclusion is an environment where every person is equally respected, which consequentially encourages ALL people to learn, share, develop, and grow, and thus inclusion drives innovation.

How easy is inclusion? And what about hidden biases?

It’s a natural thing for human beings to be attracted to those like them, and it is also natural for anyone to steer clear of those that give off a different vibe. Research shows that our brains are wired for judgments. But, actually, it is a survival tool. Think back to the days of the caveman when he was out looking for food and came across a group of other cavemen around a water hole. Our caveman had to make a decision instantly whether they were friends or “white walkers,” killing all in their path. Our brains instantly signal us—beware of what is unknown and run!

Unconscious biases are natural, as we all have them, and we are naturally attracted to those most like us. It’s in our DNA.

Many times, when I am speaking for a group, I am asked to attend their pre-opening cocktail or social event. I have to admit that attending these activities is not my most favorite thing to do. Because I am always alone and only know one person in the room, the meeting planner. When I enter, I automatically look for cues from the crowd, instinctively scanning the room looking for friendly faces, for someone like me who I might want to sit next to.

That said, biases are getting in the way of our growth and our success as a community, organization, and a nation (witness Ferguson, Missouri, and Trayvon Martin).

So the obvious question is: “If we all have biases and even unconscious biases so, how can we overcome the judgments?”

The first step in this process of being able to be more thoughtful and open is to accept and understand that we all have these biases. That we don’t have to be ashamed of them, and we don’t have to feel guilty about them, but we need to take responsibility for them.

The next step is to understand that your brain wants to move fast and take a short cut to connecting, and it is in this fast /quick thinking mode that we stereotype, making assumptions and quick associations about others. So, all we have to do is apply the brakes to the bias thinking and slow our brains down.

When we slow ourselves down, we are admitting that we are starting to judge, and this process of awareness helps you change your reaction. Slowly, you will begin to notice more and gradually move the judgments aside.

Another way we can slow down the biases is to look at another person’s point of view. If you watch Fox News or MSNBC all the time, you are feeding your brain with that one point of view. It might be helpful if you tried listening to the opposite news stations once a week, to gain insight into how others think and process the information they are receiving.

Good Luck!

Stress Relief – I Need a To-Do List that Works!

Misty Williams and I am noticing that I am having a tough time falling asleep. My mind keeps going over all of the NEW projects and creative ideas that are being presented. Being an (ENFP) entrepreneur I like my day to be open and lose- that means I don’t always follow the processes in place – but now with so many new ideas on the table, I need to focus and determine where to put my energy and my time.

I need to get my ideas and projects out of my head and on to paper. I might even need to stat making a daily to-do list.

She Left Cleveland before LeBron’s Announcement…She never looked back!


When times get tough, motivational speakers like to quote famous people, with the hope that we give our audiences the strength and the courage to move forward. So, when my sister Patty made the decision to move to Dallas after living in Cleveland, Ohio all of her life I remember sharing these brilliant words-

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney.

and… it was good advice-until LeBron announced that he was returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers.  Watch and learn – Patty is amazing and I’m so happy she is in Texas!

Rejections Hurt! Turning a rejection into a positive.

Before I began professional motivational speaking, I have to admit, I had very thin skin. Rejections devastated me.  But today, rejections are  a (sad to say) big part of my life.  Fortunately, I have learned over the years how to turn a rejection into a positive.  Here’s my Lesson from the Road – Turning a Rejection into a Positive.  Enjoy

Failure is Part of the Growth- I fall down but I get up again…

Many times I am asked the secret to being a successful keynote speaker. And over and over I say that I just kept at it. I never quit. Failure is part of the growth and it means I am trying new things. Each time I give a presentation I looked for a tiny way to make the next presentation a little better. At times I stumbled and a few times I can say that I even failed. Like Chumbawamba so wisely said- “I get knock down but I get up again” – falling down is part of the journey to success.  Unlike the reality shows that are so popular today, success is not fast. It takes time, dedication, resilience and knowing that sometimes when we slip up we acknowledge it, learn from it, become more authentic, and ultimately become better.

So, when you’ve slipped and you are having a tough time getting back up watch this video, brush yourself off and get back at it!


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, 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.

When You Snooze, Do You Lose? Is waking up early a generational thing?


Maybe it’s a generational thing, but my internal clock gets me up and out of bed each day on or before 5:30 AM.  I am up, with coffee in hand, and at my computer creating and writing long before the sun comes up.  I guess it’s my boomer generation’s work ethic showing. Although I have read many stories that correlate waking up early with success, I do it because it’s the only time in my day when I can carve out precious time to write and be productive.  In addition, I have discovered that my early morning “creative time” starts my day with a positive and even inspirational tone …I get more stuff done and I feel happy about myself.

So before you hit that snooze button remember this…


The Secret to Giving a Great Presentation – Focus on the Audience

I started teaching professionals how to transition from their current position or career in professional speaking, November of 2012.  At the time, I never dreamed that this workshop would become a part of my business model.  But, after the first session a core of about 15 people asked me if I could provide monthly workshops and continue giving them the tools, education and the inspiration to succeed in the arena of professional speaking.

So  in addition to my keynoting,  I have been doing a series of speaker trainings (Killer Keynote)  and I love it. I have watched people grow as their confidence soars.  We are now working on a stage with cool lighting and the use of a hand held microphone. I can’t tell you what a huge difference that has made in the quality of their presentations.  Our group keeps evolving as some leave and others join.

They say that teaching/coaching is a two way street and that a good teacher can also learn a great deal from her students.  The thing that keeps coming up for me as I watch and listen to these emerging speakers, is how important it is today for a speaker to be focused on the audience- audience-centric. Many of us (keynote speakers) are presenting new ideas that involve our audiences having to make a change – and in some cases a BIG change.  For most, change is not an easy task.   When we speakers get wrapped up in  content and perspectives we can  lose sight of the struggle that audience members may be feeling. We need to practice empathy.

I first heard the concept of empathy and vulnerability listening to Dr. Brene’ Brown speak here in Houston way back in 2008.  I have been a big fan ever since. After reading Brene’ s Book The Gifts of Imperfection, and doing her online workshop with Oprah, I have come to the conclusion that  be successful a speaker today, you must have to have empathy for your audience. They have to walk in the listener’s shoes so to speak.  You have to let our audience know that you too have been there and you know what it’s like to be stuck,or challenged, or what’s it’s like working with a difficult customer.  Speakers need to make a connection with their audiences.

My advice to speakers and presenters  is to stop being the star of your stories. Imagine how great it would be if speakers  put the spotlight on their audience. As Nancy Duarte has said, the speaker need to shift from being the hero of their presentation to the guide and mentor of the presentation giving the audience a magical gift or special helping them get unstuck.

You have to think of it as, “The speaker needs the audience more than the audience needs the speaker.” (Nancy Duarte) Then you’ll start to approach a material with your audience in mind.

Don’t Overcommit! Overcommitting Is Blindsiding Your Success


What’s that one thing that if you completed, it, the results would bring you more happiness, satisfaction, money, or fame? Maybe, it’s getting that project management accreditation, realtor license, taking Spanish 4, or signing up for Keynote Speaker, Crystal Washington’s webinar course on marketing through social media?

Honestly, we all know what we should be doing in our free time, but many of us have filled our plates with so many other obligations that we don’t have the time to do what is necessary to get ourselves ahead. We simply overcommit.




Overcommitment can get in between you and your dreams. (Check out my Why We Overcommit video)

Last week, I heard  National Keynote Speaker, Ron Karr from the National Speaker’s Association (not to be confused with the other NSA) speak on attaining our goals, and he mentioned distractions and time wasters that get in our way and our success. Ron shared that he has two questions on his office wall, and he lives by these each day:

Question #1: What does success look like to me—right here, right now?

Question #2: Do my actions support it?

The reality is that, when we say yes to too many things, we run the risk of not having time for those things that matter most to us.

Here are a few things to think about before saying YES to that next volunteer situation or project:

  • Is this activity in alignment with my vision of success?
  • Will it get me to my goal or take me away from it?
  • If I say YES to this, what will I be saying NO to? (Think: will it take time away from my family, exercise time, study time, writing time, etc.)
  • Do I realistically have time to fulfill this commitment properly and on time? (You don’t want to overcommit and run the risk of disappointing people [for instance, your boss], damaging trust, or hurting your reputation.)

It’s when we get really clear and focused about what it is that we most desire in our lives that we will be able to find the clarity, courage, and guilt-free confidence to say no to the requests, invitations, and even the opportunities that come our way.

If you find yourself rushing around all the time, stressed out, and overcommitted, it’s time to purge some of those obligations. It’s time as they sing in Frozen to “Let it Go!”

Authenticity – Just Be YOU!

“Be Yourself – Everyone else is taken” Oscar Wilde

Over the past few years I have been coaching many talented individuals who are working towards becoming professional keynote speakers. One of the most challenging parts of the speaker-puzzle is the authenticity piece. The ability to be you on the stage, and bring the parts of you that are uniquely you into your presentation will differentiate you from the pack and make a real difference. Authenticity is the secret ingredient and it  has become an important presentation attribute. When speakers have it, they can inspire their audiences to make positive changes, keep learning, and change the world. That said, it’s hard to teach someone how to be authentic.

Jimmy Fallon can help!

Last week Jimmy Fallon took the reins of the Tonight Show and brought his authentic self along.  Jimmy does not play it cool! He plays it like Jimmy Fallon – He’s appears a little nervous, giggling, gushing and saying a lot of, So great! So great.” He talks about his childhood, wife Nancy, their new baby girl Winnie, and on the opening night of the show, he waved to his parents in the audience and told them that he loved them. The viewers seem to love him not to mention he has the most impish grin and exudes tons of infectious energy.

Besides authenticity there are other lessons we can learn from Jimmy.

Authenticity happens when we give ourselves the freedom to see our strengths and our value. When we are truly authentic we are comfortable in our own skin, giving us the ability connect with others in a meaningful way.

Thanks for the lessons, Jimmy and here’s to seeing you for the next 22 years on late night.

And we love how you collaborated with JT.