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