Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

The Power & Profit of Nice

March 16, 2016

Nice guys finish last. (Translation: they don’t get the hot girl)
She has a nice personality (Translation: bow wow)
It’s a nice movie (Translation: snooze fest)
Nice has become a four letter word.
It’s a well known fact that people join companies but leave bosses. Why? According to a Harvard study on the top Fortune 500 companies in the US, the main reason employees leave an organization is because they feel unappreciated. They feel like their opinions don’t count and they’re not valued.
Ouch! Not nice.  
                                       
 
With employee engagement at only 32%, leaders need to wake up and smell the power of nice. What is the cost of being approachable, encouraging and supportive of a worker’s career goals vs having to replace him/her? Errrrrrr………
A few months ago I was the keynote speaker at a Customer Service conference for a company in Dallas. There were over 500+ employees in the organization yet the staff turnover rate was nearly 0% for over 20 years. How?
Everyone I asked said the same thing – they felt valued. They felt like part of a big family with a common purpose because from the top leadership down they were treated with courtesy, respect and appreciation.
Simple stuff, huge results. 
And for any of you naysayers that think ‘nice’ is politically correct term for ‘pushover’, read about these two women from the Bronx that built a billion dollar advertising company around being nice. Clients chose them over others because ‘they liked them’ www.thepowerofnice.com   
Cha ching!

You had me at hello. Now what?

September 16, 2015

Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire movie posterTom Cruise would totally have me at hello too. The only difference is I’d be a goo-goo-eyed bumbling mess unlike Renee Zellweger in the movie Jerry Maguire who ends up marrying him.

Oh well……. I’m too tall for him anyway.

So you’ve just landed a new customer/job. You’ve said your first hello and hopefully made a good impression. What’s next? How do you ensure your success? The answer is in a back-to-basics point I make in all my motivational speeches: you build great relationships. You connect with people on a personal level. You treat co-workers, customers and peers like you yourself want to be treated – with courtesy, kindness and respect.

Several months ago I was the keynote speaker at a customer service conference for a sizable electric company in Dallas where the staff turnover rate was almost zero. Everyone was so happy to work for this organization I wondered what was in the water! (just sayin’) I asked several employees why they still loved working there after 28 years and they all said the same thing: they were treated like family by the top management and all the way  down. They felt valued and appreciated. 

Sometimes we all need a reminder that it’s the simple human needs that have a HUGE impact on the success of an organization, an individual or a project.

Alrighty then. Now………………..show me the money!

How the ‘L’ Word can Supercharge your Success

September 10, 2015

As a professional motivational speaker at corporate and association meetings, I hear a lot about challenges between the generations in the workforce today. From the Millennials who think they rule technology to the Boomers who think they’ve been there done that, each generation seems to have a “know-it-all” attitude, resulting in poor communications, tense work environment, lack of cohesive teamwork and decreased productivity.

Super stressful. SO not fun.

Recently I spoke to a group of franchisees for a national chain of dance studios and their conference theme was “Back to Basics”. It was about using a more human aspect in marketing, managing and working together to attract more customers, boost teamwork and thrive as a small business owner. We talked about building great relationships as a way to personalize business and maximize employee potential. Gershwin photo at piano Since my background consists of many years in the entertainment industry, I made an example of what Lady Gaga, Fred Astaire and George Gershwin have in common as successful entertainers………

Likability.

Even with her super star status Lady Gaga still personally connects with fans, Fred Astaire always had a smile on his face, George GershLady Gaga in white costume CROPPED (173x260)win was humble about his talents as a pianist/composer.

When people like you they’re willing to help, do business with you, hire you, follow  you, be influenced by you, recommend you, buy your stuff, listen to your opinion, learn from you, bring you purple M & M’s.

In today’s marketplace we all have to learn new ways of working to stay ahead of the competition whether you’re 24 or 64 but, it takes humility to be teachable and it’s easier to play the “know-it-all” game. The problem is – no one likes a Know-It-All.

Get with the program and get back to basics.

Be the ‘L’ word.

Finding the Funny in Days of Drama

October 15, 2014

Last week saw me on the road to Corinth, Texas to speak to CoServ audienceemployees of CoServ – an electric co-op 30 miles outside Dallas.                              The drive was stress-free and took five hours thanks to my GPS gal Samantha who gave clear concise directions for a change. Her robot voice was silent for the 233 mile hike on I-45 except when she chided me for stopping for lunch.   Have you ever apologized to your GPS?

Having arrived safely at my hotel, I called the client to arrange a sound check and set up my piano keyboard on site at the company where I was the closing speaker for their customer service conference.  the following morning. The sweet woman gave me directions saying “it was about a mile from the hotel”. 20 minutes later I called her lost and  Cartoon image - woman driver stressed outconfused. Apparently her estimate of a mile was a little off. She meant a few hundred yards and I had flown by it.

The sound check was a nightmare. Every outlet I plugged my keyboard into blew the circuits (Ironic? We’re in a freakin’ electric company!) Two hours later we’re all sweating buckets thinking the problem was my keyboard.
CoServ playing keyboard - small(175x240)The 30-something-year-old meeting planner was texting everyone she knew looking for a back up piano with no luck. Suddenly a light bulb went off in one of the staff’s heads: try plugging the keyboard into another room. It worked. WHEW!!!

Back at my hotel I was soooo drained I turned the lights out at 9 p.m. Alas however, sleep was not on the agenda. The a/c unit was circa 19th century and sounded like a freight train next to my bed. Although my presentation wasn’t until 9 a.m. it was being videoed, so I got up at 5 a.m. to take extra time for my makeup to be camera-ready. Flipping on the bathroom light the image in the mirror would have scared small children. The lighting was a very Cartoon_of_Tired_Woman_With_Rollers_in_Her_Hair_Looking_in_the_Mirror (120x140)unflattering fifty shades of grey. Oh swell. Now I look like an Ebola patient.

Breakfast in the dining room was a self serve deal with very strange food-like dishes. There was a smooth shiny bright yellow turnover that was apparently someone’s idea of an omlet. The sausage links were downright sugary. The ketchup packets wouldn’t open.The other diners were part of a religious convention so everyone  was giving a “Hallelujah!” to everyone else.  All I wanted was a miracle to make some edible loaves & fishes appear.

Stepping out into daylight I realized my makeup resembled a remote tribe of red Indians, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees overnight and I had no jacket. Grrrrrr!!!

CoServ audience doing chicken dance

Doing the YMCA thing

The good news? The CoServ group were the most fun folks of all time.  They responded enthusiastically to my motivational message of influencing people by being extraordinary on the job. They laughed, they learned.  They rocked!

POINT:  I’m still laughing. After all, if everything went perfectly all the time, where would we find the funny? 

FEWER FACTS, GREATER FEAR: Can You Put A Price On Hope?

March 26, 2014

The mystery disappearance Malaysia-airplane with question markof Malaysia Flight 370 deepened as days went by. Relatives of those on board were steeped in grief and growing frustration with no information on what happened. Global eyes focused on Western Australia where the latest piece of potential debris was spotted off the coast of Perth.

There was hope.

The Malaysian government has since revealed data confirming the plane sank with no survivors. The grief stricken relatives now begin the long painful journey of healing their loss.

Hopes are dashed. But as one relative put it: “At least we have an answer. We have closure”. Now the hope is for some kind of peace and comfort moving forward.
ExxonMobil IAAP center stageRecently I spoke to a group of professional administrators at a spring conference (you know, the people who REALLY run the organization). They worked for different companies ranging from healthcare to the oil industry. Their concerns were the same: they all needed to learn new software programs.Most of them expressed fear of competency under the pressure of working for two or more bosses. Those that had mastered the new system reassured the others “it gets easier the more you know”.

Ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is power. Hope is priceless.

My prayer is that the victims’ families regain hope for the future and happiness going forward. God bless each and every one of them.

Are You Headed For Prison?

April 18, 2013

                      cell                

The Boston Marathon bombings have shaken
each of us to our core and left us wondering where it will all end….
Once again fear is at the forefront of the news.
 
As a motivational speaker for business groups at meetings and conferences, I talk alot about being fearless – taking risks to succeed at work and be happy in life. Fear can make us a prisoner of our imagination.
 
Terrorists are yellow-bellied cowards filled with hate and fear of anyone not like them. Chances are you don’t know one.
 
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is trying to prove himself using provocative nuclear and missile actions. Odds are you’ll never meet him.

Know-It-All Dictator Boss
doesn’t leave room for disagreements out of a sense of personal insecurity, arrogance, or both. The loyalty of the few cronies he or she has is built on fear, and so it isn’t authentic friendship. You may be familiar with this one.
 
I believe people’s insecurities show up as aggression, shyness, controversy, aloofness, arrogance, bullying, incessant chatter, rudeness, and otherwise unwanted traits.

At the essence of this defense mechanism behavior is the fear of not being good enough. The common result? Isolation, emotional instability, unhappiness.

The first step to solving a problem is to admit it exists. Do you see any of these traits in anyone you know? Errr, yes….especially if you take a look in the mirror.

Don’t let fear build walls around your ability to live, laugh, love and be happy.

Love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like there’s nobody watching, yada yada yada…

Is this your idea of a whale of a good time?

March 5, 2013
                                                                  whale
No. The diver is not headless. His head is below the bubbles inside the wet suit and I wonder what he was thinking right at this moment? 
My guess is it had nothing to do with world peace, the price of gas or the latest on Jay Lenno.

During my motivational keynote speeches on being fearless and taking risks to experience more success and happiness in life, I talk about the worst day of my life when I was laid off from an office job living far away from my home town in Australia as a young woman. I was petrified. The country was in a recession and the economic outlook was as bleak as it’s been here in America for the past four years.
Go Red laughing side on
My first instinct was to call my parents 1,000 miles away.
george Halfway through dialing I realized they would just tell me to come home and I’d be right back where I started. My hopes and dreams of traveling the world, working on a professional stage and dating George Clooney would be dashed.
(OK, so one of those dreams was a fantasy)I hung up the phone and that pivotal moment changed my whole life. 

Long story short, I grabbed an opportunity to play the piano in a posh Sydney hotel with no experience, a repertoire of 50 songs (mostly Beatles) and a tummy full of nerves. And poof! A star was born (lol)

Last week on TV’s reality show The Biggest Loser, there was a man afraid of swimming because of all the unseen dangers lurking below the water. After shedding many pounds and gaining considerable confidence, the man decided to face his fear and go swimming in the ocean (with a guide in nearby boat). He emerged on shore a changed man.

LESSON: Let go fear of things you can’t control.
Whether it’s the economy, other people or big fish.

Take small steps towards things you CAN control to realize your dreams/goals:
Lose weight, change jobs, venture out, meet new people,
Take a class, join a club, learn a language,
Swim with sharks.

Have a whale of a good time.

You & George Clooney: Heart Throb or Heart Stroke?

February 20, 2013

Go Red for Women Montana standing front audience smiling

The American Heart Association’s fundraiser in Montana was a day to remember. Who needs 50 Shades of Grey? This was 350 Shades of Red!

February is heart healthy month. Did you know heart disease/stroke is the #1 killer of women in America – more so than cancer?

Being the keynote speaker for the annual Go Red For Women Go Red for Women logoluncheon in Billings recently was a real eye opener. The audience ranged from late 20′s – 50′s working professionals in banking, healthcare and the oil industry. The eye opener was how young the survivors were that shared their story of having a stroke.

Thirty-something year-old’s with babies aren’t supposed to have strokes.

We talked about being fearless: using passion and fear as tools to live a more fulfilling successful life NOW vs someday in the future. I shared the story of the worst day of my life laid off from my office job and how scary it was for a young womanTheresa at piano blue sequin jkt croppedliving far away from home. After grabbing an opportunity to play piano in a hotel for two weeks with no experience, a limited repertoire and a tummy full of nerves, I discovered a passion for performance that motivated me to tour the world on a piano bench ending at the 2006 Olympics.       Olympic Rings small                     

The worst day of my life became the best thing
that ever happened.

The young women that survived the strokes now have a passion for life like never before. They learned a big lesson: Take care of yourself first so you can take care of others.
          
What makes your heart throb? (besides George Clooney) George Clooney
Is there a small business you want to start? A destination you’d love to explore? A class you’d like to take?
Have you taken a step towards it? If not, why not?

All things come to those who wait.

So does death.

 

“Theresa made our Go Red For Women Luncheon a HUGE success with her energetic enthusiasm & uplifting performance!  Our attendees left feeling inspired about taking risks to succeed and really happy they attended our event.”

– Nina Hernandez,  American Heart Association

Aha! For A Second, Change For A Lifetime

February 5, 2013
 
                                                 HADOA
I’m off to speak in Montana….
where I hear it’s a tad chilly.
OK. It’s freakin’ freezing!
Out with the faux fur.
 
February is national heart month and the American Heart Association is hosting a slew of Go Red For Women events across the country. I’m the luncheon speaker at the Billings chapter where 350 women are attending the fundraiser.
 
Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the USA? (yes, more than cancer)
 
The half day event includes workshops on healthcare, exhibitors and survivors sharing their stories. Then it’s my turn….
 montanaThey hired me to supercharge the energy in the room and close the event on a positive note.
 
For 30 minutes the audience is going to forget their problems and focus on possibilities. For 30 minutes they’re going to be uplifted, entertained, inspired and educated. After 30 minutes they’re going to leave happy they attended and hopeful for the future.
 
Thirty minutes isn’t very long to plant seeds for a lifetime – but it only takes one aha! moment to be a game changer for one person.
 
Gotta be grateful for my life, my health and my gifts that I get to share in such awesome ways.
 
Look out Montana……you’re about to get a whole lot of hot stuff!

New Norm for the New Year

January 23, 2013
 
From left: Craig Beskid Exec.Dir. EHCMA,
Mark Byrd Shell Oil, yours truly, Todd Monette LyondellBasell & John Parkinson PetroLogistics

Recently I spoke to a group of engineers that made up the East Harris County Manufacturers Association (EHCMA) at their annual awards banquet.

My topic: “Extraordinary is the New Norm!” covers the five principles it takes to be the best on the job in today’s economy:
1.   PASSION
      Engage & motivate  employees
2.  PERSEVERANCE
Overcome challenges & consistently deliver more value
3.  ATTITUDE
      Be willing to learn from each generation & stay likeable
4.  PEOPLE
      Develop a strong team culture through servant leadership
5.  FOCUS
      Keep goals in mind but be open to innovative ideas       

The challenge at this awards event? Keeping them awake after an open bar and steak dinner.  
 C’mon, we’re talking engineers here! 

They booked this Houston piano playing, funny speaker for three reasons:

  • liven up their meeting 
  • give ’em a message they can use  
  • make everyone feel glad they came
Mission accomplished – thanks to key audience members being great sports (Chevron guys rock & Dupont men rule!) Gotta luv ’em!
 
SINCE 2008 THE MEETINGS INDUSTRY has taken numerous kicks in the proverbial err, wallet. The AIG scandal was the final straw. Budgets tightened and professional speakers were canceled as organizations were scrutinized to justify the expense.snooze

Now people are tired of dry facts ‘n’ stats industry speakers that amount to one big snooze fest.
With the popularity of the Ted Talks and audiences demanding an EXPERIENCE versus simply attending, 2013 will herald major changes for meetings and conferences.
  • Got funny?  
  • Got content?  
  • Got a singing dog?
Extraordinary: The New Norm for the New Year.