Archive for September, 2009

Facing the Fear Factor in Changing Times

September 3, 2009
Kickoff conference speaker with a musical twist that rocks!

Kickoff conference speaker with a musical twist that rocks!

Do you know what Billy Joel, Henry Ford and Lance Armstrong have in common? They never gave up. They failed their way to success with passion and persistence. One look at history reveals this is the single most common thread of all successful people – they faced their fear and did it anyway. Whenever we do this we become fearless. Kinda sorta…

After living in Houston for 20 years as a motivational speaker and professional piano entertainer, I was of the opinion that life was pretty good, in spite of pesky hurricanes and high humidity that makes for bad hair days.  It was the summer of 2001 and I was cruising along in my comfort zone, happy as can be, dating a cute guy, and watching reruns of CSI every Monday night. Then September 11th happened and the bottom fell out of the speaking business.  As if to add salt to the wound, suddenly no one wanted the program I’d been doing for years. No one wanted to hear about reducing negativity in the work place – they had enough negativity coming at them from all directions! My phone stopped ringing, my bank account dwindled and my boyfriend left me. All I needed was a pick up truck and a dog and I was a living, breathing country & western song. Really.

In desperation I turned to my speaker colleagues for advice.  They said you need to change your topic and do more of what you do best which is to entertain people. I butted heads with them ranting and raving that all I needed was new clients and new ways of marketing. Besides, what was wrong with my old program? I always got great evaluations. Why should I have to change? What did they know anyway – they’d only been in the speaking biz since the earth was cooling.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever been stuck in a rut doing the same old thing because you were too afraid to try something new?  We all know the definition of insanity – it’s doing the same old thing the same old way and expecting different results. Duh!

Letting go of my Aussie hard headed stubbornness turned out to be a smart move. From the very first time I presented my new keynote on Change it was a huge hit. Playing the piano during my presentation was the unique angle needed to set me apart from the masses of speakers out there.

Thriving is about being willing to change and change is about being open minded. Leave your ego at the door and be open to new ideas. You may be pleasantly surprised how things work out.

 As for my speaker colleagues – although I’m grateful for their advice, don’t you just hate the sound of “I told you so?”


Put the Power of Music to Work for You

September 3, 2009

When you hear the song “New York, New York” how does it make you feel?

Playing the music that gets people happy

Playing the music that gets people happy

 Do you find yourself kicking up your heels?  What happens when you hear a Michael Jackson song?  Do you think of his sudden and tragic death? Whether we realize it or not, music can put us in a mood that affects our behavior for better or worse. Once it nearly cost me my job…….

As a professional pianist from Down Under I used to travel around the world playing the piano in five star hotels and at one time I was performing at a popular piano bar in the Munich Hilton in Germany.

My knowledge of the German language consisted of one word: “Ya” meaning “Yes.” (But you already knew that, right?) One evening a man requested a particular German song that I had never heard of. In broken English he asked that if he bought the music for me would I be able to play it then? Being new to the country and eager to please I said: “Ya!” and thought no more about it. A couple of nights later the bar was crowded and every seat was occupied at the piano. Up came the man with a sheet of music in his hand. I began playing the song.

All at once there was a deathly hush throughout the entire room. The people sitting around the piano were looking at me very strangely. It seemed the whole place had stopped operating completely. The atmosphere had turned dark and tense.

Suddenly the General Manager of the hotel came dashing in with a security guard by his side. He grabbed the sheet of music and passionately tore it up into little pieces in front of everybody. Then he turned to me and shouted: “Don’t EVER play that music in this country!”

I was stunned, frightened and confused. How could a single simple song cause such a shocking reaction? What had happened to the uplifting energy that was present just a few minutes ago? Later I found out. The song was written under Hitler’s rule and the words were about Nazi Germany becoming the supreme ruler of the world. No wonder every one had stopped dead in their tracks! This song reminded them of a horrifying time in their past history….shameful memories of a tragic war and human injustice they would rather forget.

Music evokes emotions in people. It is a universal language that holds the power of joy and pain. It has been scientifically proven that music has a powerful affect on the human brain. So what are YOU listening to?

Tune into a good mood when you’re sitting in traffic, writing that report or simply cleaning house. Pop on the CD that always soothes and inspires you. Are you responsible for arranging your company meetings? As people are arriving have Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” playing. Watch how it instantly uplifts everyone, eases tension and creates an atmosphere of positive expectancy. Try it at your next training session on team building. Pick a song from each culture and generation in your workplace and build an interactive exercise around it. I guarantee it will do three things:

1.  It will grab everyone’s attention and maintain it. Why? Because music energizes people. No more snooze fests!

2.  It will set the tone for a good time – people learn more when they’re having fun.

3.  It will build better relationships between your team members – it’s difficult NOT to get along when you’re all singing the same song!

Poof! It’s magical. It’s all in the power of music.                  


You Are What You Write

September 2, 2009

Are you Linked Up to here and Twittered out to there? Do you have your best mug shot on Face Book? In today’s high tech world of texting, tweeting and emails there are more communications but less personal contact. This translates into a greater risk of being misunderstood with the written word.

Check your emails before you click send. What kind of tone comes across? Does it sound warm and friendly, polite and professional? Remember people do business with people they like. Would YOU want to do business with you? When you post something on one of the social media sites it’s up there for the world to see. Be extremely careful what you write because you can make or break your own image in an instant!

For example: I am about to de-friend someone on Face Book because he is constantly writing about his political views using crass and profane language. He is someone I could do business with but that is SO not going to happen now because I have a whole new perception of him. He has unknowingly missed a lucrative opportunity because of his written word. (Surely being digitally dumped is the new low?)

People’s perception of us will be reality for them. How do people perceive you? We will believe whatever you say about you. And we will believe whatever you write about you. Use caution with whatever you write after the words “I am”. Those two little words are extremely powerful. One day I jokingly posted on Twitter: “I am a SO a Diva after yesterday’s standing ovation at the NAPM conference!” Suddenly I had 2,000 followers in my Twibe. I have no clue what to do with them – BUT – I have 2,000 peeps that think I’m a Diva. Woo Hoo!

Words are a powerful tool that can create or destroy your image. Tweet them wisely and you too can have your very own Twibe.

Talking to my Twibe

Talking to my Twibe