Category Archives: My Blog

Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

At a recent three-day convention, I was slated to present the opening keynote for the next day and a workshop on communication the third day. It has always been my practice when time permitted, to come in a day early so I could hear other speakers, feel the energy of the group and if there is another main speaker, to make sure that I hear him or her.

It allows me to observe audience reaction to the speaker and the topic as well as the opportunity to link what I say with some theme within the speaker’s talk. Sure enough, I did alter part of my presentation—her theme was all about change. My keynote would be around the title of one of my books, Stabotage! How to Deal with Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace. Within that talk, I always reference change—it’s one of the factors that seeds conflict.

The speaker had looked good. Loved her colors and the way she interacted with others before she began her program. And then all the gimmicks came out. Special lighting, video, hiding gadgets within the audience, audience participation and moving around—lots of bells and whistles.  Now, I love gadgets and gimmicks … I just don’t want to be OD’d with them. What was cute in the beginning became downright tiresome, almost boring. As I watched and listened, I felt that her talk had been given so many times and that the choreography of it and her body movements were so canned that she could be having an out of body experience and still do her talk. I came away with, “I’ve heard this a zillion times feeling.” Hmmmm.

The next day, I was up early and so were 400 attendees. They were energetic and enthusiastic. Some were life-long friends within the nursing profession and multi-meeting attendees; others were new to the conference. I loved their buzz and watching them with their greetings and interactions with each other. What I did notice, though, was there was no buzz about the previous day’s speaker. Nothing, almost as if she hadn’t been there.

Because of what she covered, I knew that I would only have to “kiss it” within mine, deleting a good 10 minutes and allowing me to add tidbits to a key point that I would like to spend more time. In doing this, I would reference her presentation the day before and move to the point that I could expand. What I did do, was add in something that wasn’t even covered or hinted in her talk about change and did it with a couple of slides that I put together after I heard her.

The buzz after my talk lingered until the conference ended. Attendees would come and speak to me at my book table and share that they had just been talking with their friend and they loved it when I said ______fill in the blank. The Buzz Factor … it’s important.

Because the group was running late from their lunch, which preceded my keynote, I had to cut up 20 minutes of my presentation. As a speaker, you must be flexible and adapt to just about anything, including chopping your own talk if necessary. Which I did … still, the audience listened, adsorbed and came away with relevant info for their workplaces.

To create the Buzz Factor, you can leave your audiences laughing, crying or thinking … but you can’t just leave them. I didn’t—my goal as a speaker has to always have entertainment, lots of humor but lots of meat that can be chewed on, processed, regurgitated—all loaded with ideas and concepts that can be implemented. Gadgets and Gimmicks can be fun … but they are like Chinese food—great during the meal, but after processing and gone too quickly.

Moving from Wannabe Author to the Real Thing

Moving from Wannabe Author to the Real Thing

It never fails … at every conference I speak at, multiple attendees will say, “I can’t believe you’ve written all these books … I wish I could write a book.” And I always respond, “Why not … you can.”

Is there a book in you? Most people think there is. And most don’t get them out. You could have the makings of a fantastic novel, a creative young adult series, and exquisitely illustrated young children’s stories. Sci-fi could be your genre, a cookbook, how-to or business book may be lurking in your creative closet.

You just may be able to take your career to a whole new level with the creation of a book. Adding to your professional credentials, if done right, could position you as the expert in a specific field. A book could talk you to a whole new level, a different type of professional business card.

Many wannabe authors practice the art of one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, three to get ready, three to get ready … and they never go. They keep reaching for one more thing; one more piece of information; another interview; another who knows what. Sometimes, it’s just another excuse. Their book never gets written, much less published. Their quest for the perfect book has become the enemy of creating a good book, even a great book.

The First Step
Choose a spot … any spot that is yours and yours alone. Authors need their space and time. Space will contain all the ingredients you need to support you. Think computer, phone— if necessary, pens, pencils, paper, files with reference items that you’ve collected, notes you’ve saved or made to support your topic, other reference books, a favorite snack (I confess—I’ve written an entire book with M&Ms being the reward each time I finished a chapter), beverage of choice, toys, etc. Your space. Claim it and let others know that when you are in your space, it’s a “Do Not Disturb” sanctuary.

Find time. Some authors have to work specific hours; others are more loosey-goosey. I’m a binge writer—if someone told me that I had to write/work from the hours of 8 to noon every day—my response would be, “Fat chance.” I’m one of those intensives—when I start, it’s like a train … keep going until it gets to the next station—rarely do I start a chapter without finishing it in a first draft format—bathroom breaks are allowed and fresh tea, but that’s just about it.

The Second Step
Just do it … even if what you get down looks like gibberish. It’s a start. You can’t move forward to publication until you’ve got some words. So dump them out. The more you organize them, the better it is when it comes to the first dump. The general topic, sub-topics, stories/facts/stats to support the topic all go into magic piles.

Where you choose to “dump” is your choice. Some still write all by hand … if you having been procrastinating or dragging your feet—best to bypass this method and either pick up a speaking program like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking where you can literally put on a headset with a mic and start talking. Your works get transcribed to your computer, and then you clean up spellings and missed words after your dictation is done. Easy, very easy. Or, if you can pound it out on the computer, each document is a major theme/chapter and you start pulling it together in bits and chunks.

It won’t be perfect … it’s a START.

The Third Step
Get help … this is where a book shepherd or coach can come into play. You will need an editor. All authors need editors who edit (this is not your friend or sister, although they can be readers) … all authors no exceptions.

Plug time … I’ve just created a new book—Show Me About Book Publishing that will be available in 2011. It was supposed to be done four years ago, but due to an accident I had, many things got put on the back burner. Finally, I’ve been able to put it together in 2010, bringing in two co-authors to complete the journey with me. From it, an entire new program is available for conferences.

Do you have a book in you? Most likely, yes. Could a book help your professional career? Again, most likely, yes.  More info—get Show Me About Book Publishing—released in 2011

Fessing Up

Funny, it was Late Night TV’s David Letterman who’s demonstrated what do do when one screws up. Caught with his pants down, he opened up to millions on his TV show last year that his behavior had been inappropriate with a former staff member (forget that she wrote in her journal that her goal was to seduce him); that he had hurt his loved ones; and he appologized all over the place.

His confession, revelation and apology was fair game for every talk show and blasted across the media. Unfortunately,  it’s too bad leadership in almost every venue didn’t hear it … or if it did, didn’t get it.

When things get screwed up, someone is at the helm. Always. Screwups don’t begin the day by the wiff of a wind blowing.  Someone starts it.  And sometimes, the someone has a bevy of folks who add to soup. When it’s recognized as a problem, savvy leadership puts the thumb in the dyke for a quick assessment and addresses it. Pronto.

That type of savvy leadership is a non-commodity today.  In the government; in business; in the community;  even within many family units. Las month, I attended a trade association of an organization that used to have an excellent reputation, an organization that I was proud to have been in a leadership position at one time.

Limping leadership, or downright lack of leadership, had become the norm. Between the poor selection of programs and so-so presentations to the utter lack of respect to the bread and butter of most conferences–the exhibitors–I was shocked to see, and feel, what unrolled.  Cast off to a room attendees didn’t see, not having a single time segment dedicated to visiting them and treated with over-all benign neglect, they were pissed. The result–few will return to a future conference. The organization had evolved within a year from the place to exhibit at to the place to avoid.

You can only wonder … what were they smoking? If it had been a peacock, the organization would be without feathers today.

Summing Up Money Fears … So, What Are Your Fears?


Summing Up … So, What Are Your Fears?

Everyone has at least one.  It’s time to confront your deepest financial fear and get them in the open.  Whether it’s the fear of the soup kitchen or of making a mistake that is financially catastrophic, you can become inhibited from taking action. 

Identify them.  Write them down.  Just the mere fact that they are on paper opens the door for you to commit and confront them head-on. Ask yourself,

  • Are my fears realistic in today’s environment?
  • Are they relevant to what I currently do?
  • Do they hinder me from moving on?
  • Are they life threatening (to my spouse, partner, kids or job,

          friends, me)?

There will always be some type of fear.  Cartoon character Pogo said it best, “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.”  By bringing up your awareness level, identifying which fears influence your money decisions, you will achieve the first level of having money smarts.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … # 8 The Fear of Not Trusting Yourself

# 8 The Fear of Not Trusting Yourself

Gender differences surface in the trust department with money and investing.  Men are less inclined to stick with an advisor whose advice has gone sour and they don’t abdicate financial decisions to someone else as easily as women do.  Advisors can help . . . but don’t discount your own experiences and intuitiveness.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … # 7 … The Fear of Investing

# 7 … The Fear of Investing

When it comes to investing, there are no guarantees.  The value of the initial money you invested can increase, decrease or remain stagnant in value.

Investing takes time and patience. Don’t focus on what your investment is worth this week or even this month.  Concentrate on the long haul—what are you saving for five or ten years from now?  And when it comes to investing, invest in what you know and understand.  Health care offers a huge range of possibilities. 

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … #6 The Fear of Creating and Sticking to a Plan


#6 The Fear of Creating and Sticking to a Plan

Twenty-five percent of the American population believes that they will fund their retirement years by winning the Lottery!  Fat chance. 

Your best bet is to create a plan.  Put it in writing for easier tracking.  Financial plans are guide tools that start you on a path that will lead you to your stated money goals.  They are not, though, set in granite.  Times and circumstances change.  So do investments and opportunities.  That means that you don’t create and stick it in the drawer.  Your plan should be reviewed annually.  It should be flexible.  Life changes. You change.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Money Fears … #3 The Fear of Talking About Money

#3 … The Fear of Talking About Money

Upbringing is a key factor that shapes your money practices.  Most adults “wish” that they had had training and guidance about money and investing as they grew up.

If you grew up in a family that openly discussed money and its many facets, you’re in the minority.  Not all of your friends will be on the same wave link as you are in money matters.  Your awareness, and possibly non-intimidation to the topic, may actually intimidate them!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

#2 Money Fear … The Fear of Losing Money

#2 Money Fear … The Fear of Losing Money

At some point, everyone loses money.  It can be from a bad investment, misplacing moneys, inflation erosion, failure to act or make a decision on your investments, making the wrong decision, losing a job or other resource of funds.  It happens.

One advantage that many men have over women deals with attitude—women are more likely to be fearful of not being able to “make up” lost money; men more often believe that they can make it up/replace it the next go around.  All is lost, it’s part of the “game.”

Over the next several weeks, I’ll continue to post the top fear factors for today … to overcome your fear, and get back on track, get your copy of Money Smarts for Turbulent Times by Judith Briles–available in paper and ebook format.

Carefronting Employees in Your Midst …

Carefronting Employees in Your Midst …

 You’ve been recently promoted to manager of your department.  You loved being on staff, but the management role hasn’t been what you expected.  Your pre-management department friends seem to have new expectations from you (as you do from them).  The camaraderie you relished for the past two years has almost disappeared. 

 On top of that, Bertha, one of the best employees you’ve ever worked with seems to have had a personality transplant.  She routinely challenges your authority, grumbles about anything and everything, and appears to be the creator of some of the conflict your department is experiencing.

The quickest way to reduce red ink culpraits is to address them when inappropriate behavior surfaces. Your reward for resolution is increased retention, higher productivity, increased patient satisfaction and a less stressful workplace. 

Your solution cycle starts with observation, communication, confrontation and spelling out clearly what the consequence is if the behavior continues.

  1. Recognize that soft skills—effective communication and conflict resolution— are as critical as clinical skills.
  2. Make effective confronting a habit, not something that is done as a last resort.
  3. Teach communication and conflict resolution to everyone on staff.
  4. Identify Red Ink styles and behaviors and confront them immediately.
  5. Let marginal employees go.  Learn to de-hire.
  6. Create a no tolerance zone—bad behaviors are not tolerated or allowed.  Period.

 Don’t concentrate on being the “employer of choice.”  Instead, become the Employer of Choice of Choice Employees.  The real choice should be to keep the keepers and lose the losers.  The end result is a healthier workplace . . . a win-win for all.

Bullying Behavior Is Still in the Air … Clear It Out

Nasty and demeaning behavior is alive and well in the workplace today. It’s not exclusive to gender and breeds easily. In fact, the bad economy acts as a breeder.The Susans (and Sams) of the workplace who practice the art of being pit bulls, bullies and jerks are the latest topic of author and management consultant Robert Sutton. In his best-selling book, The No #$%hole Rule (Warner Business Books), he identifies his “dirty dozen”—common, everyday actions that #$%holes typically use:

 Personal insults
 Invading one’s “personal territory”
 Uninvited physical contact
 Threats and intimidation—either verbal and/or non-verbal
 Sarcastic jokes and teasing used to insult
 Withering e-mail flames
 Status slaps intended to humiliate the recipient
 Public shaming or “status degradation” rituals
 Rude interruptions
 Two-faced attacks
 Dirty looks
 Treating people as if they are invisible

So, what do you do with a Susan or a Sam—who may be a boss or a co-worker?

If you are a manager, and not the pit bull, start quantifying what the behavior is costing you. How much time do you spend dealing with the employee that is an outcome of their behavior? How much is spent with staff that is the recipient of the bully’s output? Have HR professionals been called in—what’s their time worth? Have you had to interact with those senior to you? Is overtime paid out that could be tied to last minute demands or not getting things done? Has counseling been required? Have others quit because of the bully—what are your recruitment, replacement, and retraining costs? Could this person’s behavior contribute to lower productivity among other workers, even causing some to toss in the towel and transfer or quit?

The moneys mount up. Just replacing someone can cost you between one to three times an annual salary! Loss productivity factors in both reduced output, the need for overtime or temp help and added stress to staff. Few people say that the reason they are terminating is because of a specific person, it’s usually “a better opportunity,” “more pay” (even if it’s a nickel an hour more), or “less of a commute.”

Pit bulls (with and without lipstick) and bullies are key causes of good people exiting a workplace. Keeping them can have staggering costs. In the multiple worklace studies that I’ve done for my books (the latest is in Stabotage! How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace), over 51% reported that they had quit jobs because of the toxic behavior of their co-workers and bosses.

Unless their contributions are worth mega millions to your workplace and it would vaporize without them, it’s time to end it. The sooner, the better

Sutton advises, “Don’t hire #$%holes and don’t let them get away with it.”

For employees, he encourages them to change the “norms”—what’s acceptable and non-acceptable among co-workers; to get out; or create an attitude of indifference toward them.

In my own research and work with organizations, I know that the more confidence you display (even faking it), the less likely these creeps will attack you. Why?—it becomes too much work on their part to bug and/or pull you down.

When a company allows and enables rotten behavior, they support bad business practices and tell their workers they don’t count. Dumb.

Limping Leadership

What happens when a team, a group, a company or an organization loses its vision, its organization, it energy, its leadership and/or its passion? Simply, it dies.

Some deaths are sudden. Most are prolonged, and can be agonizing.

Gumblings and complaints about the leadership or management (people who don’t care–people who don’t appear or seem to be invested in the company or group–people who really lack organization experience–people who fail to connect–or people who don’t know that they are the wrong fit).

Concerns about apparent visual declines in surroundings or methods of communication (magazines or newsletters decline in quality, or disappear; emails are nothing more than a bunch of words without some type of catchy graphic; management/leadership fades into the background; physical surroundings begin to look worn or tired; or sponsored events become a minor reflection of yesteryear).

Too many leaders within the company or organization don’t really lead; they act as parking attendants.

If you are a member of a group or organization that appears to be limping along, what should you do? Nothing is not your answer. If this is your employment–dusting your resume is a good idea; re-evaluating what you do and where you want to do it; IDing what other companies employ people like you or produce the product or services that you are so good at creating; go to the CEO and let them know you’ve got a killer strategy (if you do) to add to the value and profitability of the company; move on.

Association–profits and non-profits typically die or limp along for years when a powerhouse leader or board moves on. These organizations usually have a high degree of turnover–their bylaws mandate it. And that’s the problem. Unless each new team of leadership is as strong, as visionary and as organized as its predecesor, the limp factor becomes engaged. If you are a member of such a group, you are going to have to have a serious discussion with yourself. Ask: are you getting anything out to belonging to the group … hanging with the members, any benefits that it has that you can’t get elsewhere, what? If you really can’t think of any, than it’s time to move on as well. Don’t renew your membership.

It is painful to watch a company or organization that you care for or have been deeply vested in begin to implode. Painful.
With that said, when it’s over, it’s over. Grieve, but move on and find new life. Don’t become a parking attendant.

And that, is a very good thing.

What’s Working for You?

Sometimes, it pays to not pay attention. That is, the intensity of the news, the media, all the outside “forces” can distract from your vision, your mission.

It’s oh so easy to be sucked down into the abyss of negative news that you get pulled off track. Your energy and drive gets dampened,even destroyed.

2010 could be the most amazing year. Yes, things are messy everywhere. No one needs a PhD to know that politics are as messy, and as screwed up, as ever; no one needs a PhD to know that the economy isn’t spectaular; and no one needs a PhD to know that people are still doing amazingly stupid things.

With said, What’s working for you? (Hey–waking up and breathing could be the big one today.)
What brings you energy? (My daughter has a new puppy–can you spell energy?)
What do you get excited about? (A new book, movie, seeing a friend, meeting friends for dinner, just having a day off could be #1 today.)
What would you like to start doing right now, if you had a magic wand? (Read that book you got for Christmas, take a trip, hunker down and start that project that has been beckoning for two years, have someone ring your doorbell and announce that they will keep your refrigerator clean for the next year.)
What would you like to stop doing right now, if you had a magic wand? (My job, going to useless meetings, faking it around people I don’t like, wasting time.)

You get the picture. Now, look again at the 5 questions I just asked. Seriously.
What would you like to stop doing right now?
What would you like to start doing right now?
What do you really get excited about?
Whata brings you energy?
What’s working for you?

It’s a New Year. It’s Winter and you know Spring is coming. The time for the birthing of the new you. I’m excitied, I plan on 2010 to be anamazing and fantastic experience! How about you?

Goodbye Summer and Hello Fall Speaking Schedule

This fall will be exciting … exciting, because my speaking calendar is sold out–oh, I can still fit one or two more gigs in, but for our planning purposes, we are looking at next year now. Two weeks of it will find me in Alaska doing programs for four hospitals as well as the Alaska Nurses Association annual meeting.

Being sold out didn’t happen overnight; it came from being focused, knowing my niche and being persistent. Never assume anything and working closely with the clients. The exciting news is that many of the “private” gigs have far exceeded their advanced numbers projected–some have moved the programs to larger sites to accomodate attendance.

All of the presentations will tap dance around my latest book, Stabotage! How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace.

Look forward to seeing many of you in CO, NC, AZ, MO, AK, and GA. Enjoy that fabulous palatte that Mother Nature is bringing forth!

Trust Your Gut

Sometimes things work; sometimes they don’t. The deal breaker is know when it’s not working and ignore it … or chose to address it. The situation could involve something at work, a relationship, even a friendship.

Ignoring it is always the easy path … on the short term side. After all, things might change; they might improve; miracles can happen. Most likely, though, they won’t improve; the miracle doesn’t happen; and the gnat becomes an elephant.

Elephants leave big poop.

Now, you have to deal with it, which can be uncomfortable and usually not a fun event.

And, you have to look in the mirrow and address why you got in the pickle in the first place. The Why, What, and Ways not to get trapped, duped or caught up in the situation again rear for resolution and closure.

When your gut tells you that something is the wrong fit; it’s not working … trust it. Your intuitive side is usually on target. Listen to it … then do what needs to be done.