Saturday, September 29, 2007

Erika's Freedom


My first marathon is one week away. Seven days, fourteen hours to be exact and I am extremely excited! I've been training for five months and I can't believe that when I started I could hardly run twenty-six minutes let alone twenty-six miles!

Just before I hired running coach Patti Finke from Team Oregon my wife and I ran a 4k race in Central Park. We were huffing and puffing from the start but it was a beautiful day and the crowd was friendly so we continued to grin and bear it as best we could. Around a mile or so into the race a little girl around ten or eleven years old came skipping past us with energy bouncing and beaming from her every pore. Erika, we came to learn was running her first race with her Big Sister. Erika was as beautiful as only innocent children can be, having fun, enjoying the day and being truly present and in the moment. I couldn't help but make a connection with her and told her that I liked her running style as she seemed as loose and limber as an elastic band. Ah, to be that free in mind, body and soul! She slowed to our pace, flashed a 100 watt smile and said, "I'm having so much fun!" It showed. She was and her energy, innocence and joy filled my lumpy legs with hope and energy. My wife was smitten too and after Erika sped away towards the finish line like she was running on a fast moving cloud, my wife and I had a smile plastered on our faces grateful for our meeting Erika.

Leave it to a child to be so free such as Erika. Every weekend when I run my long runs in Central Park I hope that I'll see Erika again and when I become tired or uninspired to go any further I think of her and her presence and joy and it carries me another step, another mile. Erika, wherever you are, thank you. I hope that you never lose your sense of freedom, your joy, your smile and your sense of wonder. Don't become an adult who takes life too seriously, who makes excuses that you have too many 'adult responsibilities' to laugh, to skip, to bounce, to wonder, to run, to just be.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To Do or Not to Do?


"If you really wanted it badly enough you'd do something about it!" Many people have said this to me and others countless times in the past and some of this statement holds truth however, some of us just can't seem to do anything "about it" no matter how badly we want it. What’s the matter, fear of success, fear of failure? Does it really matter? Well, it doesn’t matter any longer to me because I’ve been around long enough to know that ‘it’ won’t happen unless I take action. Even if that action is just one small step. If you’ve just had a twinge of anxiety after reading the last sentence than this is about you.

Has this ever happen to you: driving down the road at a snails pace or standing online at the motor vehicle department a great idea hits you between the eyes. Your follow-up thoughts to this great idea of yours may have been, wow, I can’t wait to get started! Or, that’ll never work. Besides, someone else has probably already thought of it. Okay, you know the drill; you believe you are what you tell yourself you. You also know that there are countless examples of people, other people who actually took action on their ideas and made their dreams come true. We’ve all read about ‘them’ and yet, it hasn’t propelled you to take action. Can you relate?

All those ‘other people’ out there are just that, people. They are no different from you and me. The only difference is that they took their ideas and took action. Maybe, their first step was to take an hour to investigate if their idea is doable or, they ran the idea past a supportive friend or colleague to get their take. Here’s the secret you’ve been waiting to read: the idea, the dream, the new life won’t happen unless you take action. Impressed? I thought you would be. You’re probably thinking, this guy’s a genius. I know I need to take action but I just can’t seem to get started. Here’s secret number two. Are you ready? Hold onto your seat because it’s so simple a concept that you’ll probably smack yourself in the head after reading: it’s okay if you do nothing. Really. It’s absolutely fine to do nothing at all but daydream. You’ll still be loved by your friends and family but and this is a big BUT will it be okay with you? Will living with the thought If, I had gone through with that idea I had I could be living the life I always wanted, be all right with you? If you answered yes then that’s fine. You’re the only one who can make that call. However, if you continue to do nothing and have an ongoing and accompanying mental thorn in the back of your head that talks to you on a daily basis and says, something’s not right, please change it! Then it’s time to take action. Then ask yourself, what tiny, teeny action can I take today? And on a daily basis ask yourself, are my actions bringing me closer to achieving my goals or further away? It’s truly that simple. The work of getting what you want is just that, work. Even those “other people” whose vocations are their avocations still have to do things that are not their favorite tasks. Start somewhere. Start today, right now. Ask for help. Have an idea party. Stop daydreaming and start day-doing.

Feel free to email me with questions which, is an action that will bring you one step closer to getting what you want.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome


Welcome to bruce's blog!

My first entry is connected to the importance of having good presentations skills, especially when representing yourself and your business.

Last night my wife and I attended a one-hour workshop on blogging hosted by the non-profit organization, The American Craft Council in NYC. Amy Shaw & Rena Tom were there to present, "Blogging the Handmade: Creating Community, Conversation & Commerce." Both Amy and Rena run their own businesses Greenjeans and Rare Device were enthusiastic about the crafts industry, their businesses and blogging. I came to learn what I could about blogging, as I have just started using this medium. Amy and Rena’s presentation started out with promise, as they appeared warm and friendly and eager to share their experience and knowledge of blogs using a laptop and a PowerPoint presentation. Both of these small business owners and bloggers have a lot to offer and are successful in their own right.

I have been teaching presentation skills to both groups and individuals for many years and one of the first things we discuss, is to know your audience. Amy and Rena conducted an on the spot audience analysis by asking for a show of hands who runs their own blog, you reads blogs and who comments on blogs. With this information they could tailor their talk. Another component of creating successful and inspiring presentations is to have a main message. The main message is different from the topic. After listening to Amy and Rena's presentation for about ten minutes I wasn’t sure what their message to the audience was. They spent a lot of time sharing screen shots of theirs and others’ blogs none of which, we the audience could see, as the slides were to small. Also, it's important to have a strong opening line to get your audience's attention. Their opening consisted of the usual welcome’ and ‘we’re glad to be here etc. None of which made me sit up in my chair. Both presenters sat on a tabletop with the laptop between them with the lid facing down, so that they had to turn completely around to look at and read the slides. The result of this was not only could we not see their faces we couldn’t hear what they were saying.

55% of the way we communicate is through our body language, so when you sit on furniture it tells your audience several things: (1) you feel relaxed enough to sit instead of stand, although this was a professional environment; (2) you're not invested enough in your presentation nor your audience; (3) you are not confident. It also affects your energy levels, which will quickly sink.

Voice accounts for 38% of the way we communicate. Voice includes pitch and tone and when you speak, as I like to say in one color your audience’s ears very quickly close . When asked to speak up when reading a document Rena shifted her weight and continued to speak in a low and monotone voice. Amy had a perky voice but used just one tone, which became tiring after 20 minutes or so.

The words we use account for just 7% of the way we communicate and are important only for the information that you want us to walk away with. As I am constantly telling my clients and myself when I lead Standing Ovations Presentations (copyright 2006) at KATLIN CONSULTING to watch their filler words such as, "like", "um", "you know", "sort of.” I counted fifty “ums” in the first twenty minutes from just one speaker! All of these filler words grain the brain of the audience and are used as a pause because the presenter does know their presentation backwards and forwards. Around this time the energy in the audience sank and I was surprised that the presenters did not realize this and did not shift from their position on the table to standing and facing the audience. Unfortunately, I was actually looking at my watch several times to see how close we were to getting out of there.

I wanted, as most audiences do for these presenters to sweep me off my feet and inspire me to change or do something different. Their presentation actually affected my desire to decide if I would want to purchase anything from their stores or not. My thought was, “If, they’re not interested enough in taking the time to deliver a concise, professional and inspiring presentation, I’m not so interested in checking out their in-store and online merchandise.” That’s a shame because if I was thinking this others probably were too. I like to give people three chances. Maybe they were rushed or had other comments so they couldn’t put as mush time into the presentation as they would have liked. Maybe they were not feeling well. I really wanted these women to shine. I was rooting for them but by the time the presentation was finished I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Of course, I did get something out of it, I'm writing this blog.

If, you would like presentation tips or further information on presentation coaching or the Standing Ovations Presentations (copyright 2006) course for your organization, please contact me: bruce@katlinconsulting.com