Friday, January 29, 2016

A Quick Hack to Start the Day… and the New Year!

So here’s the thing… I could provide a long scripted intro to a great life hack I discovered, or I could get right to it. I’m getting right to it.

I use my cell phone as my alarm clock. It works great except that I realized I was getting annoyed by the ringtone. I changed it, but realized it had nothing to do with the ringtone. The problem was that I wanted to start my day in a positive way as soon as I was aware enough to realize that I’d been gifted with another day on this planet. I didn’t want to wake up to an “alarm”. I wanted to wake up motivated and inspired to get up and get going. Then my brain flashed and I remembered that my cell phone can record audio. I checked, and sure enough, I could record audio and use it as a ringtone. Yippee!

I immediately recorded the positive statements I try to remember to repeat to myself every morning when I wake up, and set it as my ringtone. Now when I wake up in the morning, it’s my own voice speaking the thoughts I want to start the day with. When it goes off, I can’t help but smile to myself while my inner voice joins right in, speaking the words in harmony with the alarm. It’s amazing.

There are some great advantages to using a cell phone like this. You can:
  • Set multiple alarms with different scripts.
  • Use the snooze to keep repeating those precious inspirations that will bring your day to life. 
  • Change them when you’re dreams or immediate priorities shift. 
  • Wake up from your dreams hearing about how you are accomplishing your dreams. 

      If you share your cell phone alarm clock with a significant other, or you each have your own, is it so strange to think that your significant other would be bothered by hearing those statements too? Wouldn’t this be an easy reminder that the people we love and care about have their dreams too?

If you’re the parent of a child who has a cell phone, you could create a message for your child to wake up to—one that allows them to start the day hearing that they are loved and cherished, or that you’re proud of them, or whatever. They’d also have it on their phone so they could listen to it privately anytime they need to hear something reassuring or good about themselves. A lot of potential here. 

And while this can’t be considered a New Year’s resolution, it’s definitely a hack/habit I will be employing for the rest of my life. I’ve only been doing it for two weeks and already can’t imagine my life without it.

P.S. I hope you’ll share this post with your friends, co-workers, and followers. It’s easy and simple, and a truly empowering and inspiring action to take.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Get Ready,Get Set-Don't Go - Go 80/20

It feels like there are a million things coming at you, and they all have to be taken care of by you. They could be work related, family related, or some other kind of related, but now there are so many that you’re having trouble sleeping. You toss and turn in your bed while all the things you have to get done toss and turn in your head. You wake up tired, wondering for one fleeting second what it might feel like to start the day feeling good, but as you climb out of bed, the demands of the day take over.
And what will you do tomorrow? My guess is that you’ll wash, rinse, and repeat. 
I want to fill you in on a secret too many people learn to appreciate way too late in life. A vast majority of what you do is an absolute waste of time—your most precious and valuable resource. Time is not a commodity. Once it’s gone, there’s no buying or selling strategy that can replace it. There is no amount of money, fame, social status, or recognition that can suddenly produce an extra hour, day, or week.
On some level, we understand this and yet we still do things we know aren’t going to get us anywhere in the long run; like trying to impress the boss with how great we are, or getting the boss to openly acknowledge that we’re doing good work simply because we feel the need for a pat on the back.
Maybe promises have been made and now we’re in so deep that the idea of changing course is too frightening to seriously consider. Instead, we dig in deeper while trying to convince ourselves that everything will work out, and “It will all be worth it in the end.” I’m sure those were somebody’s famous last words.
The solution? Remind yourself of the 80/20 principle:
80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs
That means:
20% of your relationships provide you with 80% of your joy. Decide which of your relationships comprise the 20% and start the process of stepping away from the rest. The difference between the two groups of people is easy to discern. The 20% lift you up while the 80% bring you down.
20% of your efforts at work will account for 80% of your results. Skip the meetings, reports, and customers that interfere with the 20% of your work that produces efficient and tangible results. You might be challenged at first, but if you’re truly narrowing your business down to the top 20, the results of your actions should speak for themselves.
20% of your investments give you 80% of your return. Is there a way to be more proactive with the less than stellar remaining 80%?
I could go on and on about all the ways applying this principle could change your life for the better, but I’d rather stop while this post still falls in the top 20%. So, the next time you’re starting to feel the stress of all those “things” coming at you, put aside a few minutes to take a good look at them and decide if they fit within your 80/20 profile. It shouldn’t take you anywhere near as long as it would if you were trying to do it while you’re sleeping.

Alan Luoma: I am a Sales Coach with extensive experience in industrial sales, sales management, new product development, sales and product training. I work with a great national sustainable packaging company and their distributors to increase sales. I have become an expert on seeking out and on eliminating behaviors that prevent sales people from being successful. I enjoy uncovering sales prevention departments that hinder a companies success. I am a member of the Hartford Springfield Speakers Network, The National Speakers Association and New England Speakers Association. You can view my profile on LinkedIn, or contact me at

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pro Speakers

Hello Speakers, Business Owners, Future Entrepreneurs and Big Dreamers,  
 In this months article I would like to discuss Pro Speakers, which is an organization that is very near and dear to my heart. Pro Speakers is an advanced Toastmasters Club. The Club organized back in 2007 and that is when I joined as a Charter Member. There are two other Charter Members that are still active. When I first joined this club in 2007, I had made it through most of the Toastmasters manuals and achieved ATM-G as it was classified back then. I made a goal that year to stretch my speaking skills by either joining a National Speaking Firm or Hiring a Professional Speaker as a coach. In June of 2007, I was invited to a meeting where the Pro Speakers concept was introduced. The concept was to bring in members that were focused on speaking professionally for a fee or to accentuate their speaking skills to help move them further along in their career. For me, It boiled it down to this: "We were out to find uncommon speakers with incredible desire to push the envelope of greatness and deliver extraordinary presentations that will propel them onto their ultimate goal in speaking."
The entry to the club has a couple of prerequisites. If you were a Toastmaster you were welcomed to join as long as you completed your first 10 speeches out of the Competent Communicator Manual and secondly, you had to have a passion to be hired as a Professional Speaker for a decent speaking fee,. From my stand point I was rubbing elbows with the best, this was exhilarating. 
The first years membership held at least 12 members and most of them highly polished  and motivated speakers. At least six of the members drove 60-90 minutes one way to attend these meetings. That along intrigued me. The meetings consisted of 2-3 speeches that averaged 7-10 minutes long. You were then strictly critiqued for 2 minutes by each member with succinct purpose, advice and what you needed to do to improve. When you were about present a speech to grammatical experts and professional speakers you knew you had to be prepared and on your game. The critiquing absolutely made you better.The term "Shark Tank" was eventually coined for our club. In the eight years that have since passed, many of the original charter members have moved on, most of them achieved the goals and their purpose from this club. There are many great stories of success! I could cover another page of the successes that have been spawned because of Pro Speakers but I will save that for my Demo Speeches that I am giving for the Club this year. Pro Speakers is searching for new members that would want to push the envelope with speaking skills, being hired as a Professional Speaker, or moving up in your particular firm to do training and other skill set meetings. If your club or organization would like me to do an introductory presentation about the group please get in touch with me to schedule a presentation. If you have that inner passion to stretch your abilities in speaking come and visit us. 
Next blog: February 25, 2016
Contact Information:
Club Number:1029995, District 53, Area F61
Location: Agawam Senior Center
954 Main Street Agawam, Massachusetts 01001 United States 

Meeting Times: 1st & 3rd Thursday 7:00 pm

     “The Insurance Coach”
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

You Say You Have a Fear of Public Speaking, No You Don't, Here's Why

Here is some good news for you if you are one of those many human beings who suffer from a fear of public speaking.

The good news for you is that there is no such thing as a fear of public speaking.
The fear of public speaking is made up of other fears.

It’s those fears that need to be overcome to be successful speaking in public.

What are they? Try some of these on for size:
  • The fear of being judged by others.
  • The fear of forgetting what you’re going to say.
  • The fear of embarrassment.
  • The fear of not being good enough.
  •  The fear of not being liked.

To overcome these fears try these simple strategies:
1.    Fear of judgment:
Realize that, whether you are presenting in front of the room or not, you are being judged by others all the time. So, you might as well step up and let them. Embrace the judgment and engage them by asking for their feedback. This way, you are being proactive giving them permission to judge and giving yourself permission to be judged for a purpose, the purpose of improvement.

2.    Fear of forgetting:
Preparation, practice and notes will prevent you from forgetting what you’re going to say. Most speakers fail to rehearse enough. It’s not about memorizing the speech, it is about becoming familiar with your speech enough so you are comfortable with what you want to say. Whatever you forget, only you will know. No one will judge you because they have no idea on what they missed. Secondly, bring some notes as an outline with key words and phrases to refer to. As one of my speaking mentors has said you are in front of the room for your knowledge and experience, not because you are an expert at memorizing.

3.    Fear of embarrassment:
This is mostly a projected result of number two above. If you forget your material in the moment you feel you will embarrass yourself. Focus on the strategies for overcoming number two above and you’ll be fine.

4.    Fear of not being good enough:
Welcome to the “Imposter Syndrome,” a term coined in the 1970s by two psychologists where an individual’s insecurities take over and they feel they are an imposter in the role they fill. Speaking in performing and most all performance artists live with these insecurities. The best see the nervous anxiety as energy and put the energy towards serving the audience.

5.    Fear of not being liked:
You will never win over the entire audience. Don’t worry about that. If you worry about those that may not like you, you will lose the ones that do, too. Look into the audience and connect with the friendly faces with whom you make eye contact. Speak to them. Look for the head nods, speak to them.

Work on the real fears underlying the “fear of public speaking” and you’ll not only become a great presenter in front of audiences of all sizes, you will also transform the rest of your life as your self-esteem and self-confidence soars in the most important contexts you need for unlimited success.

 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

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Domino Effect
     Have you ever just had a terrible, rotten, horrible, no good day? Those days are the ones when nothing goes right. Your feet have inexplicably hit the floor on the proverbial wrong side of the bed. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Sometimes these days will stack up on top of one another and work their way towards a week, a week from hell. We’ve all heard of them. You might have even known someone that talks about the year when everything went wrong! Of course we also have Murphy’s Law!

What if you could do something about it? Would you? Many times people get comfortable in their ‘ruts’ and even though there is a way out they seem to be comfortable in this place of misery. I’ve certainly heard people declare, “I’ll be like this for a few days and it’ll work itself out of my system.” Really? Who volunteers for avoidable unhappiness? It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Now that we’ve settled that lets move onto resolution.

There are things you can do to change your perspective on what appears to be happening to you in your life. If you are willing to give it your all you will reap the benefits. Just like those terrible, rotten, horrible, no good days, the good, wonderful, awesome and fabulous days will also begin to domino effect.

Did you know that making an emotional face or suppressing one, influences your feelings? Smiling, even just by clamping down on a pen triggers the brain, which in turn releases the good feeling endorphins, which then impacts thoughts. What a force of nature you are!

I don’t suggest that you ignore or pretend that everything is amazingly wonderful. However, I do want to share that when things happen we can experience them and let them go rather than re-experiencing them over and over again by instant replay in the brain, as is the way many people respond to negative situations.

The actual event is only temporary and when you acknowledge that and move on from it the door is opened for the next experience to arrive. One of my favorite tricks is to ask myself positive end questions such as, ‘What gift does this experience hold for me?’ It may seem clichéd but it works when you keep asking theses types of questions. What good may come doesn’t show up, as readily when you’re asking ‘How much worse can it get’ and even if it did you wouldn’t likely see it for what it truly is.

The domino effect will work one-way or another. The great news is, you get to choose which direction you go in!

Lucinda Smith
SOULutions 4 Living
Speaker and Coach

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Holding a contest is a great way for you to bond with your department and to inject some positive excitement into your staff. You can use the contest to learn more about their group dynamics, to build a stronger team, and to attain your required numbers. Announce your intentions to your staff at your weekly meeting.

Do not depend on your own good judgment when deciding on rewards. Why? Here are typical fails made by well-meaning managers: Handing out chocolate covered peanut candies or instant scratch lottery tickets. Oops! Is someone allergic to peanuts? On a diet? Diabetic? Observing a religious fasting period? And the lottery ticket  might be unacceptable to the winner’s moral stance.

Rely on your staff to advise you what  rewards are acceptable and desired. Phrase your questions in such a way that you do not single anyone out. You might state you were thinking of offering a specific treat, but wondered if you should, since it contains nuts, or sugar. Or you could ask whether the group thinks lottery tickets are an appropriate prize.

Typically, some of your staff will want immediate gratification, and some will enjoy a larger reward that takes longer time to achieve. Be prepared to provide both. As an example, you could offer smaller, incremental rewards for a shift or a week, and also larger rewards for the month or even the quarter.

Be especially aware of the metrics you choose, since you will get more of whatever you measure. You will  learn quickly whether the contest is successful in rewarding the intended behaviors. You will also learn quickly what inadvertent loopholes exist in your metrics. It is best to start off with a fairly short-term contest, so that you become aware of unintended consequences sooner rather than later.

Remember: You are always the ultimate winner of any successful contest you hold! 

Jeannie Newman, Chief Solutions Officer of JZN Associates, is an experienced creator of many contact center contests, across several different industries. She is available to  advise you on your contests, and to save you from pitfalls both obvious and hidden. Find her and connect with her on LinkedIn or at