Sunday, November 29, 2015

W.I.N. = What’s Important Now?

I love what Brian Johnson shares with this email and opted to share his content verbatim…

“One thing that separates Michael from other swimmers, Bob (Michael’s Coach) likes to say, if they don’t feel good, they don’t swim good. That’s not the way it is for Michael. Michael, he says, performs no matter what he’s feeling. He has practiced it for a long time. He knows exactly what he wants to get done, and he’s able to compartmentalize what’s important.”

“Bob, with his seemingly endless collection of sayings, naturally has an acronym to describe the mental aspect to my racing. It’s “W.I.N.”: What’s Important Now?
It’s true. When it comes down to it, when the time comes to focus and be mentally prepared, I can do whatever it takes to get there, in any situation.”

—Michael Phelps & Alan Abrahamson from No Limits

That’s genius
The question to ask: What’s important now?
NOT: What do I feel (insert whiny voice) like doing?

We come back to this again and again and I love the fact we now have a W.I.N.ning acronym.

David Reynold’s (see Notes on Constructive Living) tells us that any given moment calls for one simple question: Now what needs to be done?

Here’s how Eric Greitens puts it in Resilience (see Notes): “I told you that I was less interested in how you feel and more interested in who you want to be... I asked you to write down those same three words in the opposite direction. It’s the direction that holds the most promise for your life:


You begin by asking, ‘Who am I going to be?’ You decided to be courageous again.

So what’s next? Act that way. Act with courage. And here comes the part that’s so simple it’s easy to miss: the way you act will shape the way you feel. You act with courage and immediately your fears start to shrink and you begin to grow.

If you want to feel differently, act differently.

This ain’t complicated, my friend. But it’s amazing how many people get it so wrong for so long.”

Remember: IDENTITY —> ACTIONS —> FEELINGS.  (Not Feelings —> Action —> Identity.)

And, finally, Michael Beckwith (see Notes on Spiritual Liberation) tells us: “The gift of self- discipline is that it has the power to take you beyond the reasoning of temporary emotion to freedom. Think of how empowered you’ve felt on occasions when you haven’t given in to the ‘I don’t feel like it’ syndrome and honored your commitment to yourself. What does not feeling like it have to do with it? The combination of love for something with the willingness to do what it takes to practice it—discipline—results in freedom.”

Genius: What does feeling like it have to do with anything?

Let’s W.I.N.

Decide what’s important now. And do it.

(Here’s the Micro Class!)

I really hope you’ll check Brian Johnson out. He’s amazing. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Are Your Customer Service Skills Where They Should Be?

Most customer service people are excited about their first day at their new job.They go to work ready to hit the road running,and for the next few months, their days are filled with interesting things to do and learn, and new people to talk with. As they start working with their customers, they probably even exceed their own expectations with the level of customer  service they’re providing. They do it because they understand the importance of first  impressions.  But sooner or later, the newness of the job—or customer—wears off, the day-to-day demands of  the job settle in, and all the extra customer service they went out of their way to provide in the beginning starts getting old.
When a customer calls and you say you’ll get back to them,don't push the request to the side. If you do before you  know it, two days have passed, and the next conversation you have with their customer starts off  with a litany of excuses—sometimes lies—rather than informed and articulate answers. If you want to be thought of as a superstar when it comes  to customer service, handle the promises with a professional attitude toward solving the problem and keep your promises to the customer.

Take full responsibility for your own customer service skills. Customer service is not always an  easy job. It can be fun when everything is going great, but not so much when there’s a problem.As a customer service professional you already may know the basics of customer service, but do you  read the occasional article about trends in customer service? Do you ever take the time to  honestly reflect on how your customers might view your customer service skills? Do you have at  least one customer service role model who excels at customer service?

Customer service is more than just problem solving. Every conversation, message, and email you  are connected with represents not just your skill at it, but also how important you think it is. Your  good customer service will give your customer every reason to feel respected and appreciated. When your customer service skills are excellent, you’ll be well on  your way to building long­term profitable business relationships.

Are your customers dealing with a different version of you after they’ve done business with you for some time?  Here a three tips of advice.

1. If you are having a bad day, it's not your customer fault. Suck it up and put on a smile  and make their interests, concerns, or problems yours, and do it happily.

2. From the moment you say hello until you say goodbye you are being judged for better or  for worse. Surly you don't want to be the main topic at their business meetings as a bad  example of poor customer service.

3. Good morning, good afternoon, thank you for your business, we look forward to working  with you are words dear to your customer ears and go a long way.

Most of all if you are burned out, no longer care for the job (and customer service is about one of  the most demanding) talk to the person in the company that can help you get over those hurdles.  If you don't, the customers will go away and with it their revenue and with it your job. So remember , make everyday a great selling day!          

Alan Luoma is a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. He works with a national sustainable packaging company and their distributors to increase sales. Alan is an expert that speaks on eliminating behaviors that prevent you from being successful in sales and uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder your success. He is a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view his profile on LinkedIn, or contact him at

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Dear Speakers, Entrepreneurs, Coaches and Guests, 

Thirty eight years ago on this day I was single and trying to find a pathway in my life. I was seeking a better direction. Thirty eight years ago on this day I worked for a company called Lechmere in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a very unique department store for the 70's. I worked the pick-up counter. I would bark out the requested item through the microphone and it would be sent down the conveyor belt right behind me. Lechmere used the day  before Thanksgiving for their "Midnight Madness" sales. This was the early shopping with huge savings such as Black Friday. They would close the store at 10 pm and re-open it again at Midnight for one hour. There were hundreds of customers who would wait outside for the doors to open. One entrance came in from a Mall. It was a metal roll up door. When the stroke of midnight arrived came people were lying on the floor to pull themselves under the roll up door to be the first to get in. It was something to witness. Little did I know my life was about to change when Midnight Madness ended that night. It was a custom for the stock room workers to have plenty of refreshments waiting outside when the store closed. Keep in mind this day before Thanksgiving is also known as "Pre-Turkey". 
As I stood there with my refreshment in hand and enjoying the evening a gentlemen by the name of Barry one of the department workers was accompanied by a beautiful girl, he came over to introduce her to me. I had seen her in the store and recognized her every time she was there. Her name Joanne. Five years later she became my wife and we have be married for 32 years, been blessed with 2 great children and we just had our first Grandson. We have been blessed. Through the years life has tossed us its share of curve balls, losses and setbacks that I am sure most of you have also had to contend with through the years. One principle I have always held close to me was to “sustain from the complaint” and instead always wake up counting your blessings every day before you begin a new day. It may seem trite, but I believe handing out daily appreciation for what you have, to those you have and what you are about to have is one of the most powerful intentions in the world. One I walk down to the foyer in our house every morning this sign is starring me in the face.

I believe success in life is all about daily intentions. One baby step after another heading in the right direction. Every year on the day before Thanksgiving is considered our original Anniversary day. It changed the course for both of our destinies. So, when you gather around the Thanksgiving table this year count all of your blessings. If you are going through a tough time right now surround yourself with loved ones and enjoy the moments you have with them. You have control of your future by actions and your thought process you invoke now. Not everything gets fixed exactly when you want it to happen, however, belief and hope makes the path to getting there much easier. Always count your blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.


 “The Insurance Coach”
      John P. Slosek, Jr 
   "The Insurance Coach ™"
Insurance Coach Radio Show 

Airs Every Saturday Morning 8am     

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What goal would you set if you knew you could not fail?

As we approach Thanksgiving, this is the perfect time to reflect upon all of the good things that we have experienced and how we can improve our personal situation to make things even better for the coming year. One of the best things that we can do to improve our situation in 2016 is to sit down and write out our goals for the coming year. Napoleon Hill wrote the book "Think and Grow Rich."  In the forward of that book, he tells us that there is a secret that is contained within the pages of the book and if we discover the secret and utilize the secret then riches will come to us in great abundance. That simple secret is that we must have written goals.


Written goals provide us with direction in all areas of our life including:
• Personal
• Health
• Career
• Business
• Spiritual
• Material
• Charity or Contribution

Written goals provide us with a purpose in life. It provides us with our joie de vivre or joy of
living. They provide us with a reason to dream and a reason to get up early in the morning and
to go to bed late at night.Written goals will enable us to develop a burning desire and passion in  our lives.

Not having written goals is similar to getting in a rowboat to do a trans-Atlantic crossing.
Written goals are like having GPS in that you can now get into a speedboat and know exactly
where you are going.

If you do not know where you are going, any path will take you there so let us get going on
planning our work and working our plan.


Picasso was once asked how do you paint such beautiful paintings and he remarked: “I dream
my paintings and then I paint my dreams.”

First in developing your written goals, you must dream big dreams. Dream of everything you
have ever wanted in every facet of your life.

Do not limit your dreams and goals. Ask yourself: “What would I attempt to do if I knew I
could not fail?”


You need to set goals that are grand enough to challenge yourself by forcing you to operate
outside of your current comfort zone.
Your written goals need to be clearly defined. The clearer your goal, the easier it is for you to
attain it.

For example, the following are NOT clearly defined goals:
• I want to lose weight
• I want to be in better shape
• I want to make a lot of money
• I want to become more spiritual
• I want to go on a nice vacation
• I want to improve myself
• I want to get better grades
• I want to become a better communicator

The following ARE however clearly defined goals:

By December 1, 2016, I will:

• Weight  (x #) pounds
• Go to the gym five days a week, take one exercise class a week, only eat red meat once a
week and not drink alcohol on the weekdays
• Make the sum of $ ________________
• Go to my chosen place of worship/meditation once a week
• Go on a Nile River cruise visiting Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, Giza with a side trip to Petra,
• Get a 3.7 grade point average
• Go to four educational seminars
• Join and attend Toastmasters
Once you know the EXACT outcome of what you want, the easier it will be for you to get to
your destination.

 This  exercise is very powerful and helps you develop a roadmap  setting forth where you are going and how to get there.. Only 3% of the world’s population have written goals. After this exercise you will be one of the exclusive 3%!

Please don’t put this off as it works like magic!!! On the first sheet write down your specific
goals for the next year. You need to write in the date a year from now in the blank.
 After this is done, take the one goal that you most want to accomplish and write it at the top of the second form (fill in the blank with the same date you wrote on the other sheet). Then write down 10 actions, acts or activities that you can take on a daily basis that will bring you closer to that goal. Then spend one hour a day doing something on that list. 

You will achieve that goal guaranteed! NOW GET GOING!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Think On Your Feet: 3 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress Using An Improvisor’s Mindset

The meme of “holidays are stressful” creates a stress of its own. We become stressed at the inevitability of seasonal tension so the meme becomes fact.  One of the life-lessons I learned from my very stressful stint as an Improv group member was that applying Improv practices to real life situations helps me manage stress. Here are 3 Improv principles to help smooth the way:

1. Know the game you are playing and your role in it.

Holiday stress, like most stress in our lives, is predictable.  You know pretty much how you react to predictable stressors and you know who and where those stressors are going to appear. Plus, you know that at during a holiday season, an unexpected event will likely appear.

Improvisers understand their role is to respond to events in the moment while keeping the long range goal of the game in mind. They act on things they can control, such as their response in the moment and let go of things they cannot control, such as other peoples’ responses. They know how fruitless it is to try and control other people’s behavior.

Ask Yourself: “Am I spending energy on trying to control things I can’t control?”

2.  Don’t “should” on yourself.

“Shoulding” is a form of negative self-talk that is rarely productive. The problem with “I should (or shouldn’t) ”….. or “I should have”…. or “they should….”  is that the statement is either in the past or the future.  Staying in the present is a key stress management principle.

 Improvisers know the only time and place to act is here and now. What has happened is past, what will be is as yet undefined.

Ask Yourself: “What can I DO NOW that will help me move towards my goal.”

3  3. Differentiate between acceptance and agreement.

When we expect a certain outcome or behavior we can easily label a different result as being wrong. When we deal with what IS, rather than what we EXPECTED, we are dealing with reality and minimizing the time spent in disappointment and negative feelings. The ideal is nicely summarized in a quote by Ray Magliozzi; “Happiness Equals Reality Minus Expectations.”

Improvisers use the technique known as “Yes…And” to deal with what they are given. The model is, “YES, I accept that you feel this way, or believe this or differ from me AND I will offer my opinion, idea, or perspective.” This is very different than “Yes…But”, which says, “yes, you feel that way, BUT I feel different.” “Yes…But” is a zero-sum game. “Yes…And” allows for difference perspectives to co-exist.

Ask Yourself: “Can I respond to this difference or disagreement with an acceptance that this person feels this way or that this event has happened without needing to make them or myself wrong.”

Oh, let's add a 4th lesson from Improv- Have Fun!!

Izzy Gesell, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) (Izzy's website) is an organizational alchemist who helps individuals and organizations transform their thinking from commonplace to extraordinary. Through his keynotes, trainings, coaching and facilitated sessions, Izzy offers imaginative, intuitive and immediately useful insights and programs. He is skilled at delivering meaningful material in a way that makes participants enjoy their time with him.  
 Izzy was one of the first to use Improv Theater concepts as tools for personal and organizational learning. He is the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-author of Cancer & the Healing Power of Play, a co-author of Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on Improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook. "His video course  on Applied Improv for Leadership" for was their first  course shot before a live audience. A second course,  is "Humor in the Workplace".  **NEW APP**- Improv4you on Google Play and Apple.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Speakers Need to Build Social Proof to Make Getting Hired Easier

It’s rare that a meeting planner looking to hire speakers will have seen you speak before you speak at their event.

Most times, speakers are hired by meeting planners who initially obtain a referral or a suggestion from a professional colleague.

But the meeting planner certainly doesn’t just go by the referral, they still need some other data to be able to make a decision that a speaker is right for their event.

There are three things meeting planners and speaker coordinators for events will investigate:
1)    Sample speaking videos
2)    Testimonials from other meeting planners and session attendees
3)    An interview with the potential speaker

Obviously, the interview is just an interview and nothing you need much to prepare in advance, but the other two sample speaking videos and testimonials you do need to invest significant time and effort to obtain.

It is easier than ever to obtain sample speaking videos with smart phone video now providing HD quality. I’ve used a small tripod and IPhone adaptor to shoot video while putting it together with audio from a digital recorder.

On other occasions I’ve bartered with organizations who want to shoot video for their own websites. As part of my agreeing to have my likeness and content used for chapter purposes I permit the video to be shot as long as I am provided a copy for my own use.

On other occasions I’ve hired my own videographer when I needed to get more specific video clips.

But, another vital step in building your professional speaking business is grabbing testimonials from both session attendees and meeting planners.
Here’s an easy way to get those vital testimonials:

1)    Whenever a session attendee comes up to you after your presentation and offers a positive comment, make sure you do two things:
a.    If you have a digital recorder you’ve been using to record yourself, keep it recording until you pack up and leave. When session attendees engage you in a conversation you’ll be recording their comments. You then simply ask them if you can use their name and comments.
b.    When this occurs, the second thing you want is their testimonial on video. If you have a smartphone with video, ask them if they would be open to saying what they just said but on video for you.  Most everyone will agree. 

2)    In the early stages of your professional speaking career you will be speaking for no or low fee. This gives you plenty of leverage to glean a testimonial, written and video, from the meeting planner who hired you.
a.    To get this from the meeting planner simply ask them what they thought of your presentation. Ask if it met or exceeded their expectations, what they liked about working with you and what value did you add to their organization and event. 
b.    Remember, the meeting planner testimonial should provide something other than just about your speaking. It should include what it was like to work with you, how you made it easy for the meeting planner to incorporate you into their event, how your appearance made a difference for them and how you made them look good in front of their organization’s members, etc.

Then, as soon as possible, upload those testimonials to your website. Upload the video and with each video post a text version of a sample short sentence or two. This in case visitors to your website choose not to play the video, they will still get a sense for what the meeting planner or session attendee had to say about you and your presentation. 

Good luck, have fun and be shameless asking for those testimonials!

 Skip Weisman is The Workplace Communication Expert and a member of an elite group of international World Class Speaking Coaches.

Skip works with aspiring speakers to improve their presentation skills and programs around content, organization and delivery, while also working with the owners and CEOs of small businesses with between 6-60 employees to improve communication in the workplace.

The work Skip does with his small business clients can transform work environments in as little as 90-days to create a championhip company cultures that are more positive, more productive and even more profitable.

For more tips on making your speeches even more dynamic go to

Friday, November 20, 2015

Back to Your Future

Are you searching for what's next? A great way to find a new direction is to look back into your past. Youthful pastimes and early passions offer wonderful clues to the kinds of pursuits you might still find fulfilling.

Start with a list of early memories - Did you have a tree house? Love to read comic books? Spend hours playing street ball? Hang out at the mall?

Next, think about what specifically was fun about each activity. Was it the competition, the exciting environment, the team camaraderie, giggling with friends? When you can pinpoint some of the things you miss the most, you're getting closer to discovering something you might want to pursue.

Now, think about what you have always been good at. Entertaining others? Drawing? Physical strength and athletics? Being persuasive? Convening groups? Solving problems?

Each intersection of what you love and what you are good at represents a potential "playing field" for a new direction. Try to think creatively about opportunities, without any judgment about whether something is feasible or not. Your goal is to let your imagination and your emotions uncover a wide array of possibilities.

There is no excuse for staying stuck in the present. Search your past and go explore some old, NEW directions!

Linda Spevacek is an innovative speaker, author and coach who can help you create prosperity across all aspects of your life. For speaking topics and programs, visit

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Your current life is culmination of past choices you’ve made. Those choices come in the form of attitude, behavior, thoughts and actions or inactions you’ve taken. They are all based on choice. There are some things that we are born into that can be argued are not choices. Regardless of your belief in that regard, there is a choice involved as to whether or not that defines and confines who you are, what you are doing and who you are being. 

Take a moment to define at least one desired outcome. Is everything you are doing oriented towards the outcome you are wanting? What can you do to focus yourself on that outcome?

If it’s a better relationship with someone, are you taking the time to listen to that person and really hear what he or she is saying? Are you willing to let go of preconceived notions about what you think they are meaning and get clarity from them? Don’t expect someone else to change, rather be willing to change the way you are approaching situations in order to alter the normal chain of events. Be open to different approaches.

If you are looking for a better job, are you updating your resume and your LinkedIn profile? Are you talking with people about what you are looking for? Are you networking? Have you defined what that better job may look like? The latter is a huge point. It is easier when you know what you are looking for and also much easier to enlist the help of others in that process.

There are so many possibilities. Each step is a choice, many of which can lead you to your ambitions at varying speeds and others, which will send you in another direction. Choose wisely and remember you always have a choice. It all starts with you.

Please feel free to contact me at to share your successes and experiences, or to get answers to any of your questions.

Lucinda Smith
Coach ~ Speaker
Life Transformationalist
Solutions for Living

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


As the new manager, having taken your first three steps (see you are ready to put your own imprint on your department. Your changes should be immediate, observable, and purposeful, to your staff, and also to those outside the department. Here are three suggestions for making changes that will be noticeable within your department:

Model the Behavior You Wish To Encourage
While you are evaluating your new staff, they are evaluating you. Managers who say one thing and do another send mixed messages to the troops and undermine their own goals. Being the leader does not give you the right to arrive late, leave early, or be too important to clean up after yourself. Rather, it gives you the right to lead by example.

Conduct Regularly Scheduled Meetings
Consider asking your staff for input on time and location. Make the meetings regularly scheduled events.
§  Let nothing interrupt your meeting time.
§  DO NOT use these meetings as a time to chastise any of your staff. 

Create a Department Newsletter
If you choose a newsletter as a way to keep your team informed and motivated, be consistent in time and tone.
§  The written word is powerful and it has an incredibly long shelf life. This is not the place for negativity.
§  Make sure that everyone receives recognition within a reasonable period of time.
§  Prepare for any typos or misspellings in your message. Offer a prize to the first one to catch a mistake, or include a disclaimer, such as, “typos included at no extra charge.” This will take the sting out of it for you when one of your staff points out an error.  Additionally, if you have a difficult group it will keep them from feeling as though they have scored a coup against you. It will also imply, on another level, that mistakes are not the end of the world.

      Jeannie Newman of JZN Associates is experienced in building cohesive teams with individuals from diverse backgrounds and teaching social skills as they apply to the workplace. She has a special interest in empowering women in their careers and lives. Contact her for speaking engagements and workshops by email  at, or through LinkedIn.