Thursday, December 22, 2011

Overcoming Obstacles

We deal with various obstacles every day.  The evening and morning thunderstorms that threatened to cancel my morning walk reminded me that we often gain by dealing effectively with obstacles.

Delaying my start time by 30 minutes provided a chance for a rain-free window to begin my walk.  My nylon jacket repelled the short sprinkles that fell for a few moments as I reached the point furthest from home. And my hood diverted the drops falling intermittently from rain-soaked branches.  Constantly zig-zagging around deep puddles provided a new view of my familiar route and added 5 minutes to my journey.  Five more minutes is a 20% increase in my normal 30 minute walk time.

It would have been easy to rationalize aborting my exercise routine this morning.  By dealing with these minor obstacles, I have the satisfaction of completing an important task, increased health benefits from more time in motion and another reminder that even when we're prepared things often take longer than we anticipate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buffalo Nickel in Circulation

I recently presented a $5 bill at checkout and received 7 cents in change.  Surprisingly, the nickel was a Buffalo nickel. The Indian Head and Buffalo images on the front and reverse are clear but the date is not.  These coins were minted from 1913-1938.  It's amazing that a coin that was produced 73 - 98 years ago was still in circulation. 

We never know what tiny treasures we may overlook when we fail to be observant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who Do You Know?

A dear friend recently asked if I knew anyone at an organization with a job opening that looked interesting to her.  I do know current employees at the organization, including the person to whom she would report. However, I chose to connect her with another special friend who recently left the organization.  A short and meaningful conversation quickly led to the assessment that this job would not be a good fit.  Had she visited with the hiring manager, she might have ultimately come to the same conclusion.  Or she might have made a career move that would have been disappointing and unfulfilling. 

We need to consider what we are seeking when we ask for connections.  I knew that she needed to determine if this was a possibility that she should pursue.  Someone else might have provided exactly what she asked, a connection to the organization.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Data Dumps and Deficits

We are all so inundated with information that it's easy to feel that we're being buried by bytes.  With the abundance of available data we are often left with a usable information deficit. 

We all process information differently.  I often refer to myself as queen of cliff notes because I like to get quickly to the options and decision.  Others want to comb through every piece of information.  Analysis paralysis and firing before ready both have consequences.  Regardless of our decision making process and preference, we all benefit from an assessment of what the data means. 

Sharing summary information turns data dumps into data driven decisions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Life Tips from Christmas Carols

I love Christmas music!  One of Houston's radio stations plays non-stop Christmas music during December, allowing easy access to a variety of tunes.  The lyrics convey a range of messages from the true meaning of Christmas to merely upbeat seasonal cheer.  Regardless of the messages contained in the songs, some of the titles provide reminders of things we can do throughout the year to improve our relationships, effectiveness and impact.
  • Joy to the World - With an attitude of gratitude and willingness to help, we can each bring more joy to the world.
  • Silent Night - We all need time to think, plan and reflect without human and technological interruptions.
  • Deck the Halls - Celebrate everything! 
  • Do You Hear What I Hear? - Listening is one of the most critical communications skills.  Both the message sender and receiver have a responsibility to determine that what was said was actually heard in the way intended.
  • Go Tell It On a Mountain - Sharing our tips, knowledge, experiences and contacts expands opportunities and enhances relationships.
  • Jingle Bells - Celebrate successes!  Ring the bell frequently for small and large accomplishments.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lost and Found

We all know the frustration of losing an object and retracing our steps as we frantically try to find it. Yesterday, on my morning walk, I had the unbelievable opportunity to find an item no one knew was missing.  Four blocks from home I spotted a rectangular object in the street that reminded me of the size, color and shape of the children's old Kinkaid student IDs.  Imagine how stunned I was when I picked it up and discovered my son Gar's 11th grade Kinkaid ID.  A million thoughts raced through my mind and I was thrilled to find that Gar's wallet was intact.  My college freshman has no clue how his high school junior year ID was lost and appeared in a very random location. 

When we're always observant, we never know what we will find in our daily journeys.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Great Day!

Today was many degrees warmer than the rest of the week (yeah - cold isn't in my vocabulary) and I decided to alter my normal walking route to walk to the polls for the Houston City Council run-off elections.  So glad that I did!  If I hadn't voted then, as I feared, I would have missed this important civic opportunity.  And, this adjustment to my walking route afforded me the opportunity to enjoy two visits with friends I'd not recently seen. 

There was just enough time to finish my coffee table Christmas decorations before my much anticipated Saturday call with my precious Mama.

A fabulous birthday/Christmas celebration with dear 30+ year friends provided much love and laughter and many more cherished memories and physical gifts.

Then, my best friend and I had the opportunity to enjoy a long fireside chat in the shadow of our Christmas tree.

She left moments before Gar and his pledge brother completed their 10 hour road trip, arriving at our doorstep.

Christmas began today!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stopping to Smell a Rose

Each morning I walk briskly through the neighborhood, rarely stopping, unless there's a chance to catch up briefly with friend.  However, when I spotted the neighborhood's one perfect yellow rose in full bloom, I was compelled to stop and enjoy its fragrance.  This unexpected beautiful blossom was my vivid reminder that it only takes a moment to brighten a day - our own or another's.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Stuff that Causes Angst

One of my time-saving tips of emailing my notes from a presentation to myself backfired.  An awesome speaker had so much to share.  As is my practice, I captured her remarks in an email to myself.  I loved her presentation. Though her comments were memorable, when I tried to send the summary to my personal email, it was blocked.  Because I initially took her remarks in context, I then discovered that she'd used a four letter word for stuff starter (that also begins with s) and thought that was the problem. 

When I still got blocked I realized that she'd also used another donkeyish name at the end of her speech in place of "horse whisperer".

Colorful language creates a laugh.  As was the speaker's goal, she got my attention and I gleaned her take-aways. Until my overly sensitive company filter intervened, I took her remarks in the appropriate context intended.  However, I recognize that other listeners might be as sensitive as my email filter.

Though I only use the PG version of stuff starter and horse whisperer in my blog, this experience has caused me to remember that when we want to create a connection, we need to be especially cautious in communicating with those we don't know well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Digitally Connected to Another Generation

I'm convinced that my maternal grandparents' 7 children and 18 grandchildren all thought they were the favorite child of one of these lovely folks.  In my case, it seemed that I was Grandpappy's favorite grandchild.  It was to him that I made the promise as a 9 year old, that my daughter would be named, Julia, in honor and memory of his beloved mother, whom I never knew.  And he did live long enough to know my precious Julia.

Grandpappy loved word search puzzles.  Little did I know that this was a great memory boosting tool.  When I discovered an electronic version of word searches positioned to keep the brain young, I was immediately transported back in time with vivid memories of Grandpappy and his word search books.  Each time I complete a memory boosting puzzle, I'm instantly connected to my dear grandfather. 

A technology he never knew provides a memory enhancing connection to him that I treasure.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unbelievably Close

Two of my friends who had worked together for years recently discovered how very connected our worlds are.  He mentioned his ex-brother-in-law by name in a derogatory context.  As she asked him to repeat the name, she revealed that this man was her first husband, and agreed with his assessment.  This unbelievable coincidence blew me away and vividly illustrated that we never know how close we are to making desired connections or unintentionally sharing a harmful assessment. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My dear friend Liz rescued a lost dog who burrowed into her fenced backyard nearly two weeks ago.  She was accustomed to hearing her neighbor's large dogs, but a different bark attracted her attention.  A small, polite dog was most appreciative that Liz recognized his presence.  She welcomed him into her home and found no identification.  Though she's not a pet owner, she promptly made provisions for her new friend.  She quickly posted fliers for all neighbors to see.  As she continued to nurture this waif without response, I told her that she should name this most fortunate stranger Lucky.

Liz nurtured this lucky dog while trying to find his family.  After the first several days, she tried many times to place him in a rescue facility. Thankfully for Lucky, but unfortunately for our community's many abandoned animals, there were no available shelters.

After nearly two weeks, Liz received the anticipated call to claim the dog.  Fortunately for the owner, none of the many facilities Liz contacted during the past two weeks could accept another dog.  This lucky dog was one "yes we can take him" away from being removed from Liz's loving home and potentially permanently separated from his family.

I was thrilled when Liz told me this morning that this lucky dog and his family would be reunited.  I was blown away when she confirmed that his name is Lucky.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Communications Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know

Dianna Booher captivated our audience at Comerica's recent Women's Business Initiative luncheon in Dallas as she energetically shared communications strategies we all need to know. It's clear that Dianna is a communication expert by examining just a few of her 45 book titles that collectively have sold almost 3 million copies in 16 languages in 23 countries.

The true measure of authoritative, persuasive and credible communications is in the results. What we say and intend is not always what a listener hears. Though most people would interpret a one in a million chance to mean "no way", it can be interpreted by the listener that there is still a chance.
In many communications, there is only a 50% chance that the conclusion intended was reached. Her tips for improving understanding include:

  1. Specificity
  2. Verification
We all need to be able to think on our feet and she offered a four-part process:
  1. One sentence summary
  2. Elaboration
  3. Example
  4. Restatement of the one sentence summary
Communications speed is a current measure of quality. In a Booher Consultants survey they discovered that 87% of respondents expect a response within 4 hours. The remaining 13% were even more impatient, expecting a response within 1 hour.

Dianna's presentation provided a vivid reminder that excellent communications skills can lead to extraordinary careers and relationships. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Overcoming Fear

Martha Beck's keynote today put fear into perspective for me:
  • First world fears and third world fears are vastly different.  Comparatively, many of our fears are superficial versus theirs which are survival oriented.
  • Some of the things we fear, when addressed, become the biggest catalysts for our success
  • Successfully addressing incremental stress builds strength
Regardless of the nature of our fears, they are real to us.  However, putting them into broader perspective often helps to deal with them more rationally and less emotionally. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Presence to Presents

Today was another reminder of how incredibly connected we all are.  My early morning meeting led to a conversation later in the day about personal, corporate and nonprofit connectedness.  This connectedness may lead to additional corporate recognition and thus supplemental charitable giving to a terrific nonprofit.

A chance meeting of a relocated nonprofit professional at my next meeting led to a possible job match with an inquiring nonprofit executive during a returned telephone call later in the day.

Our presence always has the chance to lead to presents.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stay in the Game

I enjoy card games.  It's easy to get distracted when playing on the computer - phone calls, questions, emails, thinking about an important project or daydreaming.  In the card game of hearts, the two best outcomes are to take as few tricks containing points as possible, or to take them all.  Distractions can cause one to lose track of the tricks taken.  If one focuses exclusively on not taking tricks, the door can be opened for another to take all of the tricks. When we are distracted, we can lose sight of the bigger objective of winning the game versus avoiding losing a hand.

Most often effectively competing in the game of cards, business or life involves taking carefully calculated risks.  It's easiest to do when we are clear about our ultimate objectives and commit to keep our head and heart in the game.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Your Best Self

We are all asked to adapt and embrace change - sometimes more frequently than we are willing to accept.  However, when we are part of a large organization and change is thrust upon us, we need to remember that all of our actions impact our customers.  Though our competence with new systems may be minimal, our sincerity in working through the changes on their behalf will be the stories positively retold.

When I react as I'd like to be treated or know (from asking) that a customer would like to be treated, I am able to put my best self forward.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Daylight Savings Time prompted me to complete a fast-paced 30 minute walk before starting my business day today. As I moved briskly through our 10-street neighborhood, I noticed possible subtle improvements, with potential for big impact, that existing homeowners could easily make if they only recognized them.  Too often we see things in our personal and business lives as they are, without examining how they might be incrementally or significantly better.

We owe it to ourselves, families, friend groups, nonprofit organizations and companies to periodically objectively consider what incremental and monumental steps we should consider to maximize our impact.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Passion for Children

DePelchin Children's Center has been serving the needs of Houston children and families since 1892.  Services have expanded through the years and include mental health, residential treatment, foster care, adoption, education and prevention.

The vision is aspirational: We envision a world in which every child is safe and healthy.

And the mission is to strengthen the lives of children by enhancing their mental health and physical well-being.

I've had the privilege of serving on the board of this amazing organization for many years and am thrilled with the commitment, professionalism and passion consistently demonstrated by the staff and board.

There are so many ways to make a positive impact for all who have a passion for the well-being of children and all of our children need opportunities, resources and advocates.  Many of us had the privilege of growing up in loving homes with supportive families.  Not every child has this experience.  If you're looking for a chance to change the world, consider sharing your time, talent and/or treasure with one of the many terrific organizations committed to strengthening the lives of children.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Silent Treatment

Don't disengage your folks with the silent treatment.  When you ask an associate to represent the organization with media, community organizations or elected officials - support them when they do!

I once participated in a company sponsored media interview that appeared on the front page of the Sunday Houston Chronicle business section.  Though I received numerous positive mentions from friends,  associates, colleagues and my boss, others who should have weighed in were conspicuously absent.

I could easily have wall-papered the organization, sending the feedback from this company initiated interview to everyone who might need to know (or matter to my career), but I didn't.  This was probably a mistake, in a very hierarchical organization.

Sometimes doing the right thing unjustly invokes the silent treatment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Morning Light

Those of us who live in the city are surrounded by street lights, landscape lighting, billboards, interior and exterior commercial building lights and headlights.  As I left for Austin at 5:45 this morning, it didn't seem particularly dark. But as I reached a rural stretch, suddenly the pre-dawn darkness enveloped me.  It hadn't occurred to me that a significant part of my road trip would be governed by nighttime speed limits. 

I realized that the sun rather than my city clock determines when morning begins for much of the commuting world.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning from One Another

As part of the acquisition of my bank, we've changed technology platforms.  We communicate extensively internally and externally using email, contacts and electronic calendaring.  All of this changed dramatically, causing us to learn new ways of performing once familiar tasks.  The frustration is alleviated and the learning curve accelerated as team members discover and share ways to accomplish what we need to do. 

We all go through phases of competency as we adopt new ways of doing things.  Sharing lessons learned reinforces learning throughout the team.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Looks Good

Edgar and I walked up to our favorite neighborhood restaurant for dinner tonight.  It's always crowded on weekends, but was also booming on a Tuesday evening.  As we were leaving, Edgar spotted an intriguing dish and stopped to ask about it.  Not too surprisingly, in my "everything's connected" world, his question caused me to turn around and be able to greet a long time business friend and meet her son and husband.  We soon discovered that the yummy treat was a birthday surprise for her husband.

Perfect opportunities present themselves every day to further our relationships.  Sometimes it only requires curiosity about a tasty looking treat.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Great Idea

An older associate recently won my heart with an email inviting me to join a small group for a one-time planning meeting for an upcoming event.  Her approach was to indicate that I always have great ideas and she hoped that I would join them.  Her approach made me want to participate and left me sad that I had a conflict.

When we approach someone with a sincere compliment, we can often engage them with a time-bounded opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities.

The great idea is to be able to give others the chance to shine in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Did You Hear?

This week I heard a disjointed presentation by a keynote luncheon speaker.  I didn't know my seat mates, but by reading a couple of expressions, thought I detected their disappointment at the quality of the presentation.  However, after the event an email string connecting some additional attendees who had exchanged cards, provided an enthusiastic assessment of the presentation by two of the attendees. 

This experience reminded me that what we hear and how we process the information can be vastly different than others who hear the same words.  Regardless of what is actually said, when common understanding is critical, we must take time to assess what others in the group actually heard.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Working with straight shooters who want to do the best thing for our customers and the company makes work productive and fun.  When no one overtly seeks public credit everyone wins.  I've had the great fortune of working for an organization committed to helping our customers prosper.  With this goal in mind, we've all prospered.

Friends who deal daily with internal gamesmanship don't enjoy the same satisfaction.  When more effort is exerted in appeasing internal egos and deadlines than seeking to delight customers no one really wins.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red, White and Blue

At an intersection today, every truck and car that passed before me was red, white and/or blue.  The first vehicle caught my attention because their corporate colors don't include red, white or blue.  This unexpected color scheme held my attention and caused me to notice every vehicle passing before me.  Sometimes it takes only a simple jolt to make us freshly appreciate the freedoms represented by our red, white and blue.  My unexpected flag ceremony today was vehicular.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding the Benefit in a Negative Change

I've recently had to make a temporary and gargantuan technological change.  I live by my online calendar, email and contacts.  My office and home systems have been the same for too many years to mention. I was recently converted to an office system that is no longer commonly used.

Though I prefer the platform that we will ultimately migrate (back) to, I've decided to try to make lemonade from this current batch of lemons.

Some positive thoughts I've embraced include:
  • learning something new keeps us on our toes
  • we often ask our associates to embrace change that is as foreign to them as this technology regression is to us
  • readily sharing tips and tools accelerates everyone's learning curve and can improve relationships
  • we don't always appreciate what we have until we lose it
  • I'm resilient
  • there are always multiple ways to accomplish tasks
  • learning occurs at every age and stage

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gift of Time

Sometimes time together is the best gift we can give and receive.

In our interactions with those we cherish, how we perceive things may or may not align with their perceptions. What joy when we view the experiences similarly!
Yesterday a friend shared a story that illustrates this beautifully.

One day Charles took his son Brooks fishing. He wrote in his journal of that day, "Went fishing with my son; a day wasted." His son also wrote of that exact same day in his journal. Only his entry read like this, "Went fishing with my father; the most glorious day of my life."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Connect or Alienate

We all have an innate need to connect.  Though conversation is the least common denominator, it is also the most important.  Engaging conversation captivates our hearts and minds.  Dismissive conversation antagonizes or alienates us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ask the Next Question

Popular belief is that there's only 6 degrees of separation among us.  I've often said that in Houston, it's only three.  Yesterday, I was once again reminded of my many "everything's connected" Arkansas scenarios (my home state).  A dear friend invited me to fill a last minute vacancy at a nonprofit annual luncheon.  She knew it was a long shot, but asked anyway (I'm most appreciative!).  I was available and excited to accept. 

Before arriving I only knew one of the table hosts at table #20.   When I'm a guest at a table with open seating and when I'm the host, I opt for a seat with my back to the speaker, so that others have the best view.  I only knew my right seatmate.  My two immediate left seatmates were also delightful.  In conversation we discovered that their daughter is a senior at University of Arkansas (my undergraduate institution) and a Chi Omega (I didn't tell them that I was a former president).

My take-away is to always ask the next question.  Had we stopped the conversation at what we do and how we are affiliated with the organization, we would have missed the special opportunity to create a meaningful connection.

When we ask the next question, we often invoke the magic of the 3-6 degrees of separation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When Nothing is Everything

Sometimes nothing means everything:
  • nothing is wrong
  • the lab test results were negative
  • there were no findings of wrong-doing
  • nothing is more important than you
  • there were no wrong answers
  • it was an accident - no one is to blame
  • there's nothing left to do - it is finished
  • it was all you! I had nothing to do with it
  • it's gone! you are cancer free!
  • it was nothing more than a misunderstanding
  • it's perfect! there's nothing more to say
  • it's nothing!  That's what friends do
  • nothing will ever come between us
  • nothing ventured... nothing gained
  • it's nothing more than you would do

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First Six Word Story

Since I'm the queen of cliff notes, I absolutely love the concept of 6 word stories and here is my first:

Respond appropriately...
Live happily forever!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Searching for Leadership

O Y L B C D E V L O V N I P E M J S W X X O E E M 
M D R L O I E T V D K M R M H M A A C E V R R C W 
C N X Z M J E T E X O E S T L U S E R D R G U C Q 
V I D T M A H C S D S Z P Y S N Q B T W R A T M P 
A S G C U Z I Q E E F X S D A U J L M S C N U B O 
L Z S A N S J L N S R P C E C G Z M E B Q I F H P 
E P Q E I Q W T C R J E I O E L B A I W Y Z B D F 
A W J V C A P A B L E B T N L D E N I M R E T E D 
D H E K A C P W H H R X X N S L S Y R A H D T A T 
I A Y I T N U Z Q A P Q I I I P A T X G K H J Y K 
N E L C O E E S K E O Y Z E S H I B P P C N X Q D 
G D D E R I T N N P K C M C E L S R O U C Y S P M 
E M J C U E L H V I S I O N R B O F I R B J O U J 
T U F H G W N T I O E R W E M N I D J N A G Q H X 
A V N W O Q P E M C I A D F N J H A O Z G T G W E 
V D F B A H I S T N A A W Z A F L H S N C D I N Y 
I N Y F L Y H M T S E L K W D I R E C T I O N V C 
T B A I S U S E T L I Q O E J O M Z K H S Y T Y E 
O A L Z F N R D O U C L T Y Z O I M D U C P K D W 
M D L G A A E X D P N T F E C U K J M T A D P N S 
O B Z W C W D L L B I G T T P T D N E P E Y K L E 
S E I T G N A D U M F X U I E G L Z M T Z M E O E 
N N I E J W E R M Z Q O S W X E L S L O M M X H F 
T V A L P J L O E U I O O H Y M X C A A G N X H B 
E K I B V C C P L B O B R W Z O E U I L X S K T X 


Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazing Postal Service

As expected, my 4:25 p.m. Southwest flight arrived early.  Traffic moved smoothly.  For those who don't procrastinate, it's worth mentioning that today is the deadline for filing 2010 U.S. Income Tax Returns.  Our long-time CPA had slogged through the paperwork we provided and our family returns were waiting for signatures, money and postage.  I completed all of the necessary steps and arrived at my neighborhood Post Office at their 5:30 p.m. closing time.  An accommodating supervisor spared me the 20 minute self-serve ordeal and allowed me to be their last customer of the day.  The customer service representative at the window handled my transaction in 2 minutes or less and provided a receipt that our 5 returns were posted to their various destinations.

There are wonderfully helpful people everywhere.  When we receive amazing service, one way to pay it forward is to share the experience.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Love Your Sporty Car

Earlier this week, as I was leaving a nonprofit gathering there was a chance to continue a visit started earlier with a delightful woman I've only connected with through this organization.  She had a surprised look as the valet delivered my car.  She drives the same car, with a different color interior.  We discovered that we each chose our sporty rides when we no longer needed to drive carpooling machines.

There are so many wonderful ways in which we are connected.  The valet line allowed us to easily discover our same taste in cars and that we are both parents of independently mobile children. 

There are countless ways that we can make our connections when we are receptive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blank Slate

Yesterday, my Blackberry was wiped clean without the expected recovery option.  Despite multiple attempts on my part, and with the assistance of technical support, my smart phone became quite dumb.  I could only make and receive calls. I was closer to tears than I've been at work in years and years, as I realized that my electronic leash was broken and there was nothing I could do until the next business day.

Though I thrive on being connected and responsive in an email-centric company, I told our market president (my boss) that the only way that I could be reached when out of the office was via cell phone.

It's really hard to accept an unwanted blank slate.  I'm still optimistic that I'll be down for fewer than 24 hours. If not, I'll have to get back to you when I'm in the office.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Anticipation is one of the marvelous joys of life.  The next three months are filled with so many big events that I'm eagerly anticipating: trips that we are making to visit with family and friends; trips family members are making to be with us; a friend's wedding; debutante balls, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and selecting a new CEO to lead one of Houston's leading nonprofits.

Fortunately, anticipation isn't just reserved for big events and projects.  We can add joy to our lives by creating things to look forward to each week: special meals with family and friends, reading a new book, watching a just released movie, scheduling time to complete a some day project, volunteering, starting a new project, visiting with those who are dear, pursuing a hobby or scheduling any activity that is fun or exciting.

Anticipation allows us to create joy in our lives rather than just engaging in the unfolding events of daily life.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rain, Rain Come and Stay

Yesterday, Houston got nearly 3" of much needed rain.  Our drought is pronounced with precipitation 22" below normal.  Though it's common to hear complaints about rain on weekends, only gratitude was expressed on this particular weekend.  Rather than the childhood rhyme, "Rain, Rain Go Away, Come Again Another Day", Houston should modify this classic.  I propose "Rain, Rain Come and Stay, We Need You Here for Many Days".

We often complain about minor inconveniences, and don't always fully appreciate that they are actually in our best interest.  Most of us accept sporadic rainfall as one these minor inconveniences.  Sometimes it takes a drought to make us appreciate the reality that into healthy environments a good bit of rain must fall.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Paying Attention

One of the curses of perpetual busyness is a failure to really notice the things that are always present.  I have several pictures of my precious children at various ages in my home office.  I glance at them each time I sit at the computer.  Because they are both hundreds of miles away, I've spent more time really focusing on these precious images.  I've loved every age and stage of their lives and their bright smiles captured in these special photos warm my heart.

This experience reminded me that it's not enough to fill the spaces where we spend a lot of time with things that bring us joy.  We have to pause long enough to absorb the joy. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sometimes a 2 and a 10 are the Same

When playing Hearts it doesn't matter if you catch a 2 or a 10.  Both cards are worth one point. Bigger isn't always better.  It doesn't matter if we get to school or work 2 minutes or 10 minutes before we're expected.  We're on time.  And it doesn't matter if we are 2 minutes or 10 minutes past starting time.  We're late.  It doesn't matter if we get 2 or 10 college acceptances or job offers.  We can only accept one choice that is right for us.

In our competitive society, it helps to know when a 2 and a 10 are the same.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Awesome Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative Speakers

I've had the amazing opportunity to lead Sterling Bank's Women's Business Initiative for the past several years.  We've had the good fortune to present an incredible array of amazing speakers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth.  We're thrilled that Comerica wants to continue this special 11 year program! Many of our speakers' insights from the past two years are summarized in these recaps:


"Success is Inside Every Woman"

"88 Keys and Extraordinary Performance"

"Life's a Sales Call"

"Success Mapping"

"It's Your Time to Soar"

"Roadmap to Success"

"Making 2011 Great"

"Walk, Talk and Negotiate Like a CEO"

"Leadership for a Lifetime"

"Linking, Tweeting and Friending with the Pros"

"Anything's Possible After Trial by Fire"

“Think Like an Entrepreneur”

"Creating Personal Power"

"Win-Win Dialogues"

“You Really Asked a Candidate That?”

“WOW Your Customers”

“Link, Tweet and Friend Like a Pro”

“Take this Job and Love It”

"Five Stones for Slaying Giants"

“Revelations in the Rearview Mirror”

“Human Resource Essentials”


“Embracing Generational Differences”


“How to Recession-Proof Your Business”

“More Tips on How to Recession-Proof Your Business”

“Market Like a Pro”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Thought You Said...

Two recent workplace experiences reminded me that we often hear what we expect to hear.  A colleague asked a relationship banker for information about a tower company.  The responding colleague heard and provided information on a towel company.  The response was 100% correct for the question heard, but not responsive at all to the question actually asked. 

On the heels of this situation, another colleague asked about the toffee in the break room (home made and apparently delicious) and the respondent provided a response about the coffee.

Both incidents provided laughter therapy for those involved. And a reminder, that when accuracy is important, we need to verify that what we heard is actually what was said.  Asking the question a different way can often validate the information or surface the miscommunication.

This tactic can also work well when communicating with friends and family members who don't hear well and those who don't enunciate. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

119 Ways to Improve Your Life

There are countless ways to improve our lives.  I offer 119 suggestions and invite your terrific ideas.

  1. Believe – In God, yourself, family, friends and colleagues
  2. Embrace an attitude of gratitude
  3. Do something nice for another with no expectation of reciprocity
  4. Volunteer
  5. Donate money or other usable resources
  6. Read
  7. Adopt a plant
  8. Recommend a friend or colleague to others
  9. Share your knowledge
  10. Stay curious
  11. Take one more step
  12. Smile
  13. Respond appropriately with yes or no
  14. Anticipate
  15. Make something
  16. Send a card, letter or email to someone with whom you’ve lost touch
  17. Share shortcuts
  18. Recycle
  19. Get enough sleep
  20. Schedule the next appointment with a friend before you part company
  21. Drink a lot of water
  22. Improve listening skills
  23. Be courteous
  24. Graciously welcome others
  25. Take a time out
  26. Hold a baby
  27. Pet a cat
  28. Create a fresh floral arrangement with an unconventional container
  29. Make your bed every day
  30. Do someone else’s family chore without
  31. Offer to help with a project
  32. Sincerely compliment others
  33. Look for positives
  34. Become hyper-observant
  35. Forward a helpful article
  36. Subscribe to useful newsletters or blogs
  37. Play
  38. Dream
  39. Hope
  40. Plan
  41. Consider alternatives
  42. Be decisive
  43. Set goals
  44. Acknowledge accomplishments – yours and others
  45. Give the coupon you can’t use to a stranger in the check-out line
  46. Repurpose an item
  47. Always put your wallet and keys in the same location
  48. Automate payments
  49. Bank online
  50. Establish high expectations
  51. See a play
  52. Make a newcomer feel welcome
  53. Recognize and reward excellence
  54. Do what you say you will
  55. Build a great reputation
  56. Make others feel valued
  57. Control your controllables and accept or work through or around the uncontrollables
  58. Do what you love
  59. Hug someone special
  60. Be active
  61. Find a place for everything
  62. Distinguish between want and need
  63. Be responsible
  64. Schedule think time
  65. Schedule preventive health appointments
  66. Carpool to events
  67. Make an introduction at an event
  68. Compliment the host
  69. Give a deserving speaker positive feedback
  70. Recommend a book on LinkedIn
  71. Catch a fish
  72. Give a found good luck penny to someone
  73. Create time-saving routines
  74. Thank family members frequently
  75. Mean it when you say “I Love You” and when you mean it say it frequently
  76. Establish a pattern for staying connected to those you treasure
  77. Use recurring appointments in your electronic calendar to remember special occasions
  78. Take baby steps instead of avoiding things you have been avoiding
  79. Break big projects into manageable pieces
  80. Find a creative outlet
  81. Alert a stranger when they are unaware that a strap or zipper or tag or tear needs attention
  82. Laugh often
  83. Confirm understanding
  84. Streamline providers for frequently used items
  85. Use paperless delivery options for statements and notices
  86. Spell check
  87. Reread aloud before sending important communications
  88. Tell a friend or co-worker what they need to hear even if it’s not what they want to hear
  89. Share good deals and sources
  90. Stretch
  91. Play to your strengths and partner with others whose strengths are your weaknesses
  92. Be timely
  93. Reduce clutter
  94. Observe nature
  95. Look for innovative solutions
  96. Write something every day
  97. Buy stamps online
  98. Be an advocate
  99. Ask for advice
  100.  Be approachable
  101.  Ask questions
  102.  Bite your tongue or remove your fingers from the keyboard before responding inappropriately in anger
  103.  Sincerely apologize when you are wrong
  104.  Use an informative subject line in emails
  105.  Speak slowly and distinctly when providing contact information
  106.  Show enthusiasm
  107.  Be supportive of family, friends and colleagues
  108.  Help others
  109.  Limit complaints
  110.  Find an interesting way to do a mundane task
  111.  Use a cross-hatch shredder to lessen identity theft risks
  112.  Contribute to your company 401 (k) at least at a level to maximize the company match
  113.  Forgive yourself and others
  114.  Share a positive memory with the family of a deceased friend
  115.  Nominate a deserving individual or organization for membership or recognition
  116.  Establish a credible personal email address
  117.  Use hyperlinks to minimize large attachments and blocked emails
  118.  Don’t super-size fast food meals
  119.   View riveting talks from remarkable individuals at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Can Only Control Me

There's a lot of change in my life including empty nesting, corporate acquisition, childhood friend's death, pet's death, 60-year+ tree removal and doubled commute time (major freeway construction eliminating access points).

We are always presented with things we can't control.  However, we can all control our attitudes about our circumstances, conditions and situations.

I'm thrilled that my situation is mine!  I'd hate to deal with anyone else's.

My positive attitude gives the option to help so many others deal with these (and many other) situations.

How do you control your attitudes and actions?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baby Steps are Important at Every Age

A child's first steps are celebratory!  They are a huge embodiment of months of incremental developmental milestones leading to this life-changing moment.  Though they are literally a child's first steps, the significance of the accomplishment is enormous!  If only, we continued to daily embrace the significance of baby steps in all of our pursuits we'd:
  • take more risks
  • recognize more positives
  • try more things
  • meet more friends
  • be more fit (take more steps)
  • seize more opportunities
  • jettison more regrets
  •  learn more
  • stress less
  • see incremental change 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We're All Foods

There are so many different ways to describe ourselves and others that involve food:
  • Apple of My Eye
  • Whole Enchilada
  • Nuts
  • Bananas
  • Peachy
  • Beefy
  • Chicken
  • Cheesy
  • Long, Tall Drink of Water
  • Couch Potato
  • Corny
  • Red as a Beet
  • Honey Bun
  • Sugar
  • Sweet Potato
  • Cool as a Cucumber
  • Cereal (serious)
  • Full of Beans
  • Milky Complexion
  • Hot Dog
  • Sandwich
  • Salty
  • Spicy
  • Fruitcake
  • Shrimp
  • Icing on the Cake
  • Doughy
  • Whole Hog
  • Bringing Home the Bacon
  • Egg Head
  • Full of Vim and Vinegar
  • Feast for the Eyes
  • Fishy
  • Cracker
  • Pumpkin
  • Shrimp
  • Muffin Top
What food descriptors do you or others use?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Communicating Clearly

Communication has many facets including speaking, writing, listening, body language and silence. Effective presentations incorporate these seven C's:
  • Credible - knowing the material creates confidence
  • Convincing - believability
  • Coherent - follow an outline that creates a smooth flow
  • Connection - smiling, eye contact and interest
  • Clear - jargon free and easy to understand
  • Concise - say what needs to be said and stop
  • Conversational - if only during questions and answers

Friday, September 30, 2011

Success Means...

At a recent Sterling Bank Women’s Business Initiative Luncheon, participants were asked what success means to them.  Though we are all unique, there was a lot of commonality in the 51 responses. Over three-fourths (78.4%) of the answers fell into the following four categories:
  • Helping Others –  35.3%
  • Achieving goals, dreams, potential – 19.6%
  • Happiness – 13.7%
  • Pursuing Passion – 9.8%
Other descriptions included:
  • Money
  • Peace – Inner or God’s
  • Strategic pursuit of knowledge
  • Abundance
  • Honesty
  • Relationships
  • Independence
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Prepared
  • Brave enough to risk failing
  • Meeting the President, Governor, Pope and Queen
What does success mean to you?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wicked Success

It's always marvelous to present a fabulous, crowd-pleasing speaker, and we did it again yesterday at Sterling Bank's Women's Business Initiative Luncheon in Houston.  CEO, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Best-Selling author, Vickie Milazzo shared the success strategies that earned her a place on the Inc. list of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and provided the inspiration for her newly released book, Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. Her definition of wicked is exaggerated or amplified, which challenges us to think, dream, plan and act on audacious (rather than small) goals. 

She reminded us that time is a precious gift and that though women can do everything; it doesn’t mean that we should do everything.  Thus, we need to carefully inventory time-sucking distractions and ensure that we are not saying “yes” by default.  We sometimes forget that each yes, is a no to something else.

Vickie’s vivid personal example of focusing on things that we can control hit a chord with many.  The business she pioneered had grown for 26 consecutive years, until the recession hit in 2008.  She couldn’t control the recession, but she could and did control her approach. By implementing internal financing options for their students’ education programs, they maintained market share and profitability. Once again, she thought BIG and won.

We too, can win BIG by energetically and deliberatively pursuing our passions.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let's Have Lunch

Lunchtime is a prime time for business meetings.  We often benefit not only from the company of our luncheon companions, but also from the other folks we encounter when we are out and about.  Yesterday, I enjoyed a delicious and productive lunch with three colleagues at one of Houston's premiere restaurants.  My "everything's connected" reality was on steroids.  I knew and visited with everyone at the two tables nearest ours, greeted the owner and enjoyed watching my friends enjoy a superb chocolate dessert sensation sent by the owner.  And,  I knew, but didn't have the chance to acknowledge an acquaintance at the other table in our closest proximity.

Lunchtime is a perfect time to bolster existing relationships, create new ones and reconnect.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dealing with Irrational People

There are many ways to deal with irrational people including:
  • Don't
  • Be quiet
  • Listen
  • Leave
  • Call in reinforcements

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Be a 10

There are many ways to be a 10 including:
  • Do the work
  • Create the scale
  • Change the parameters
  • Find someone who thinks you are a 10
  • Vary the field
  • Limit the field to 10

Sunday, September 25, 2011


We can easily embarrass ourselves by what we say and do and by what we leave unsaid and undone.  However, we can become victims if we allow ourselves to be embarrassed by the actions and inactions of others.  Only when we embrace the reality that we are only responsible for our own actions and inactions do we free ourselves from embarrassment that we don't cause.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Full is Your Glass?

Is your glass half full to overflowing as mine is? Or is it half empty to cracked and leaking like some folks I know. Though we all tend to be optimists or pessimists both groups often assert that they are realists. Regardless of our typical label, we have the chance each day to choose the way we'll view situations.

Friday, September 23, 2011


We all have expectations of ourselves. Some aspire to function, others to add value and some to lead.  Ideally, we have a combination of minimal, optimal, stretch and aspirational expectations.  Depending on the day, we are best able to function in a given quadrant.  When our core values are non-negotiable, we won't cross an unacceptable line.  Thus, we will always have the opportunity to meet or exceed expectations.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Strategic and Organic Networking

We've been instructed from early ages of the importance of addressing who, what, when, where, why and how in conveying information. Strategic networking follows this same pattern.

Who do you want to know and who can make the connection?
What do you know that others want or need to know? What information do you seek from others?
Why should you and the other party engage?
Where and when are the best forums to meet those you want to meet?
How do you engage?

Organic networking is more fun and natural, but also effective, with opportunities when ever and where ever others are present.  Organic networking requires a natural interest in others and receptivity to engaging.

Many interesting people are shy, so be willing to make the first step and actively listen to the responses. Hi, I'm Pam.  Who are you? How are things in your world?  What exciting things are you doing?  How are you connected to this host/group/organization?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life's a Sales Call

Jack Warkenthien, the dynamic founding CEO of NextStep Solutions, radio personality and author of Life's a Sales Call: How to Succeed in the World's Oldest Profession energized our San Antonio Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative Luncheon in San Antonio last week.

He shared his five part code for success:
  1. A sale is a relationship, not a transaction.
  2. People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  3. The depth of your convictions is more important than the length of your knowledge.
  4. Have fun and a sense of humor.
  5. Stand out and be memorable.
He used fictional AM and FM radio stations to emphasize the importance of the other person in our relationships:
  • MMFG-AM - Make Me Feel Good About Myself
  • WIF - FM - What's In It For Me?
Though we all like to know the answers, he reminded us that when we don't have a ready answer, it gives us a reason to call back with the requested information.

Jack vividly portrayed the importance of action in stating that vision without a plan is a hallucination, and reminded us that a decision is not an action. Though others can inspire us, we motivate ourselves as captured in his definition of motivation - motive for action.

If you'd like a copy of Jack's handout, leave your contact information in comments or email me at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Start the Process

A new project can be intimidating or energizing. One of my frequent comments in business settings is "It's easier to be an editor than an author".  An open-ended written query, "What do you think", doesn't always solicit the quality and quantity of responses we'd hope to receive.  Colleagues who will readily offer suggestions in a meeting or brainstorming session become silent when asked to put their ideas in writing.  Often, offering a written position and asking for feedback increases the quality and quantity of our responses, because we've eliminated writer's block and allowed our colleagues to become editors rather than authors.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Timing Connects Everything

Today, in San Antonio, my cab driver from the queue at the airport dropped me at a different spot at our luncheon venue than any other time I've arrived at this location.  As I exited the cab, I thought I heard someone calling my name, but also realized it could have been an attempt to connect with some Mam or a Sam rather than Pam.  In my "everything's connected" world, it was, of course, our terrific luncheon speaker, Jack Warkenthien, arriving at just that moment.  He was taking advantage of his very early arrival to visit with a colleague over coffee.  If I'd been dropped at my normal spot, I'd have missed the comforting early confirmation that my dynamite out-of-town speaker was on the premises.  A few paces forward, as I rounded a corner, I heard another personal greeting.  One of my treasured colleagues was arriving from my usual entry point at just that moment.

After our fabulous luncheon, I declined the gracious offers of my colleagues to take me to the airport.  My favorite airline, Southwest, keeps changing the San Antonio-Houston connections, and I had a long wait before my departure, so I decided to make a quick personal "retail therapy" stop before moving my mobile office to the San Antonio airport.   I opted to return calls on a bench outside a major retailer before ambling over to a hotel to hail a cab.  As I was making my final call, a friend (who is also a very close friend of our speaker) who'd attended our luncheon, and stayed to conclude a contract, drove by and spotted me.   Linda Elliott graciously offered to take me to the airport and we had the chance to consult about one of her pending engagements and our Women's Business Initiative.

I'm always amazed and delighted at how everything is beautifully connected.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Countless Options - Two Clear Choices

The International Ice Cream Association reports that 1.52 billion gallons of ice cream were produced in 2009.  Despite countless available flavors, the top two choices were vanilla (27.8%) and chocolate (14.3%).  When confronted with too many choices, it appears that more than 40% of us clearly opt for one of two traditional favorites.

My theory is that we all like options.  However, if these statistics are indicative, when the decision is important, providing limited versus abundant options may better drive a decision.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Speaking Loudly through Silence

When tempers flare, it's natural to verbally react.  Matching tone for tone and volume for volume are instinctive behaviors children embrace.  These behaviors didn't work then and they don't work now.  Silence and whispering speak far more loudly and effectively than yelling and screaming.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking Care of Others

Sometimes we are so busy taking care of others that we lose sight of bigger issues such as who should/could/would assume other responsibilities. It is in everyone's best interest to differentiate between:
  • what others need v. what we think they need
  • what they need v. what we need
  • what we can do to meet their needs and ours v. what they can do to meet our needs and theirs
When we view ourselves as we would others, we are better able to serve everyone's needs and interests.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eye Can Make a Difference

One of my colleagues suffers from eye allergies.  Her red eyes and comments caused me to provide her the coupon I received from my (new) eye doctor for a significant discount for an over-the-counter medication.  She reported good results today from this new treatment.  Everything is connected in ways that we don't always initially see.

Friday, September 2, 2011


One of my childhood friends was murdered by her husband yesterday. The shock of senselessly losing someone special who has always been a part of your life leaves an enormous hole that is impossible to fill.  Thankfully a lifetime of my own wonderful memories and those shared by others who loved Katherine are flooding my heart and brain.

Faith, family and friends are always important.  With a devastating loss they are essential.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Connecting Everything Unexpectedly

On Monday, one of my colleagues provided restaurant gift cards to be used for community affairs, business development and volunteer involvement.  Minutes after receiving the gift cards, I received a message encouraging door prizes from a supported organization. I offered gift cards for this organization to our dedicated bank representative via email with a copy to a colleague who would fulfill the request. 

Unbeknown to me, the dedicated bank representative was having difficulties understanding a new role in the merged organization. My colleague who would fulfill the request thought that my outreach was because I knew that another colleague was struggling. The unexpected opportunity to provide gift cards to deserving organizations also provided an unexpected chance to advise and encourage a valuable colleague during a substantive coaching conversation.

Some believe that there are no coincidences.  My way to categorize this reality is by sharing some of the many ways that everything's connected.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do You Know?

Many of my "everything's connected" stories evolve when I take the chance to ask long-shot questions.  Most recently, I was seated next to a bright young man from London, who I discovered had recently graduated from Princeton.  When asked, he immediately acknowledged that he knew our niece, who graduated a year earlier than he did.  Bingo!

So often when I've asked the "do you know" question, I've only known one person with a similar affiliation, yet have often been delighted with an affirmative connection.

The more often we ask "do you know", the more frequently we'll discovered the unique ways we're connected.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Everything's Connected Even When Our Paths Diverge

It's been an emotional week as several of Sterling Bank's key contributors left today as a result of our merger with Comerica.  Though we've known their separation dates for a long time, it always seemed that our farewells and thank yous were distant.  Time flies and "then" became "now" far sooner than we hoped. 

Each of these special individuals approached their exits with optimism and appreciation for their opportunities.  "Good-byes" in banking and in life are far too limiting. We've said "so long" to each of them as we wish them continued success and as we positively  anticipate that our paths will be forever positively linked.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dread is One Letter Away from Dead

I'd never thought about the absolute negative power of "dread".  Because it's only one letter away from "dead", it made me realize again that we sometimes create our own "tomb" by thinking negatively.  When we actively engage in dreading a foregone outcome, we rob ourselves of the chance to cherish the positive moments we actually have.  And so many potentially negative outcomes never materialize.  By holding "dear" the people, moments, memories and dreams that matter, we banish things we "dread" and cherish all we hold "dear".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Embracing Change

Many of my Sterling Bank colleagues have been engaged by Comerica as continuing employees.  Many others are in redundant positions and have found other opportunities, often with organizations that acknowledge their Sterling contributions by offering significant compensation packages.  Still others are in transition positions with Comerica and performing at high levels while waiting to find their next great position. 

Change is an inevitable in the corporate world, but also in general life.  Positively embracing change is a great way to acknowledge the present and welcome new, often better opportunities.  Until we are willing to let go of what is, we'll never be able to embrace what can be.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why God Created The Last Minute

I've discovered that God created the "last minute" so things can get done. 

The world is full of procrastinators, "just one more bit of informationers", "we'll file it by the deadliners", "we'll handle it-ers".  Regardless of intentions and practices, many in our world create last minute opportunities to execute. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Life Support for an Ego

I met someone this week, who I described to a friend as, a life-support system for an ego.  It is clear that this individual has many skills and experiences.  Some of his words indicated that he wanted to be helpful.  However, his first words were all about him and his credentials.  Some of his language was condescending, since he was totally unaware that I shared some of his credentials. 

It is quite probable that this individual is clueless that he undermines his credibility by antagonizing those with whom he interacts.

With this harsh assessment, I must add that my friend voiced what I had already realized - this was a very insecure individual.  As with most interactions, this one was "not about me".  

When we can separate what is being said from what is actually being communicated, we go to the head of the class in strengthening relationships and adding consultative value.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Everything's Often Connected in Ways We Never Imagine

I'm continually amazed at how small our enormous world is.  Recently, I've discovered additional connections that weren't previously apparent, including two sets of cousins are who are my friends and colleagues (all four individuals don't know each other). Four very different last names masked any connections.  Chance conversations revealed these special relationships.   Each of these individuals is very accomplished at their very different responsibilities. 

This was another vivid reminder that we never know how broad, deep and varied connections are.  Thus, we never know how quickly our positive and negative communications will reach those we know, but never expected to be party to the information.

This is yet another reminder to broadly share praise for others and closely contain negative feedback to a need to know basis.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Odd Woman Out - Everything Else is Connected

Recently, at the opening of Comerica's Community Resource Center at Change Happens, a woman named Maya and I were visiting with two precious young girls who were participating in the agency's summer program.  Maya's not a common name, and amazingly our two companions also had uncommon names that rhymed with hers.  Since these grade school girls obviously had no business cards, I can't capture the spelling of their rhyming names, but they were all amazed when I pointed out their special connection.

Who would ever guess that the name Pam or Pamela was the odd woman out in a group of four?

Monday, August 8, 2011

88 Keys and Extraordinary Performance

Theresa Behenna is a remarkable motivational speaker who masterfully used 88 piano keys to encourage attendees at a recent Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative luncheon  to strive for extraordinary performance.

She demonstrates that effectively using Passion, Attitude, Persistence, People and Attention leads to success.

Some of her Key messages include:
There is no place for mediocre skills. With 10,000 hours of study anyone can reach expert status. She began as a two finger pianist at age 5.

Cultivate great relationships with those you work with and serve. She shared the story of her urgent call to Sterling Bank 3 minutes before closing. Her banker spent 23 minutes with Theresa to ensure that her transaction was perfectly  handled. Theresa said she felt like royalty.

Fear is what we pass on the way to success.

Embrace a "Yes I Can" attitude.

Always leave people feeling good. She certainly left our appreciative audience feeling good!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Are You a Vacuum Cleaner?

Last week a friend shared her assessment that many people are like vacuum cleaners, merely sucking up everything that is said.  I laughed and said that I've encountered a number of folks who are like lawn sprinklers, freely spewing their opinions without pause.  How awesome it would be if the world was filled with people who are, instead, like interactive video games.   Dialogues are far more interesting than monologues.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Enunciation Matters

I often wonder how many conflicts could be avoided or resolved if people actually heard what others said.  At a recent community event I had the opportunity to experience a humorous example resulting from a lack of careful enunciation.   We were discussing a community colleague's recent trip to Spain.  He mentioned how expensive food is in Spain.  He and his travelling companion ate rarely in white tablecloth restaurants.  Instead they chose tapas bars for most of their meals.  Our other colleague's stunned expression and subsequent confession, let us know that she thought he'd said that they had been frequenting topless bars.

This was yet another reminder to me to check for understanding in communications.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Powerfully-pointed or Power-pointless?

There's a corporate epidemic that must be addressed: (bored to) death by PowerPoint.  Even when it might be slightly useful, I avoid PowerPoint presentations  when I'm asked to speak.  I've seen far too many presentations that contain poorly designed slides (too much information, bad fonts, distracting colors, etc.) and far too many presenters who read the information contained in the slides.  These presentations fall into the category of power-pointless.  Why waste all that precious time to develop a presentation that detracts rather than adds to the ability to convey information?

I suspect that the designers of PowerPoint intended that it be used to powerfully and easily, visually convey points.  If presenters would use the tool this way, powerfully-pointed presentations would be the perfect antidote to (bored to) death by PowerPoint.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More Odometer Oddities

As I got in my car on Gar's birthday this week, my odometer signaled happy birthday with his birth year prominently displayed.  There are always special signs of connectedness in our daily lives.  We need only take time to notice.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Different Shades of Human

Yesterday, I heard a great description to encompass all aspects of diversity:  we are all different shades of human.  In forming relationships, we seek to identify and appreciate similarities and differences.  Only when we recognize our fundamental sameness, that we are all human, can we begin to explore, understand, accept, embrace and learn from our differences.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If Ego Was Measured in Height

A colleague was recently describing a business associate.  His unflattering assessment of this man was that if ego was measured in height, he'd be 100 feet tall.  Though I don't know the individual who was described, I've known others for whom this is a very fitting descriptor.  How unfortunate that anyone would let their redeeming qualities and measurable skills be overshadowed by such a disproportional and inaccurate self-assessment.  This is a reminder that how we present ourselves makes a tremendous impact on how well we are perceived, received and accepted by others.  Ego is one scale where average is celebrated.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Early Bird Gets the Time

A dear friend reminded me yesterday of another of the benefits of being early - the ability to redo.  She'd allocated extra time to arrive for a lunch gathering with friends.  The designated restaurant was one with a few Houston locations.  On auto-pilot, she navigated to a location closer to her, rather than the appointed spot.  Because she'd planned to be early, she arrived 15 minutes early to her first stop and only 5 minutes late (practically on-time) to the actual destination.  Had she been cutting it close, as many of us often do, she would have been terribly late for a gathering that had little margin for error.  This special visit was shoe-horned into a one-hour window between immovable appointments.

Whether it's time with family and friends or the chance to make a positive impression with clients or prospects, it's usually the early bird that gets the time.