Thursday, April 10, 2014

What I Learned When The Room Started Spinning

I haven't posted a new blog in a couple of weeks. It's rare but when that happens it causes me angst. I preach consistency in content creation. And I get mad at myself when I don't walk the walk.

But this time I had my reasons. For starters I have been running a full schedule and working on some exciting stuff that has been commandeering my creative process. More to come on that later.

But the most important reason is I had one of those moments. You know those moments. When something happens to cause your world to spin out of control. 

That's what happened to me.


One minute it was just another Friday. People to see. Places to be. The next I was at the gym, stretching out on the mat, listening to Bruno Mars when I turned from right to left and everything in the room started to move. No matter where I tried to focus a piece of gym equipment was in a tailspin.

I knew what it was. It's happened before - but I hadn't had a real episode of vertigo in years.

If you've never experienced vertigo, at first it feels like a very bad hangover complete with nausea. All you want to do is stay in a darkened room and sleep.  Except that even the worst of worst of hangovers is more manageable.

Luckily my gym is in my building so I didn't have far to navigate my off balance self into the elevator. 

Once inside my apartment I fell onto my bed and did what one does when they get vertigo. Try and find the one position that does not make the room spin, close your eyes and don't move. Not one fraction of an inch. The slightest little shift the wrong way and you are back on the Ferris Wheel at top speed.

I was dizzy. I was nauseous. But I was also angry. I did not have time for this.

I tried to will it away. I tried to convince myself I was more powerful than the vertigo. I wanted to control it instead of it controlling me.

But it wasn't happening.

There was nothing I could do but just be. 
Be still.
Be quiet.
No Internet.
No television.
No conversation.
A lot of sleep.
A lot of time to think.

Before you know it Friday had turned to Saturday and I was still in my bed. The worst of the vertigo had passed, but I felt fragile. I was functional but I was far from off to the races again. 

It was clear the furthest away from my bed I was going to get for the rest of the weekend was the couch. 

The really good news was I could focus enough to read. I picked up the book I had started earlier in the week. Thrive by Arianna Huffington. And everything started to make sense.

Arianna talks about these kinds of moments in her book. When something happens that causes you to step back and reassess what you are doing. Sometimes they are truly life altering and sometimes they are more nudges and reminders you have fallen off track. 

Mine was a big reminder. I suppose my vertigo could have been spurred by a virus or inner ear congestion. But I think differently. My body was reacting to the pace I've been keeping. I had let myself disconnect with my core. So much so that it did what it does when it wants to make sure I pay attention. It gets very Greek and does something very dramatic.

And just in case I might still have refused to see the obvious, it made sure that the book I just happened to have started reading was about well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. 

I finished the book that weekend and have been regrouping ever since. 

Which explains the lack of blogging.

I'm still moving slowly. Vertigo likes to linger after it comes to visit. But that's okay. Especially in this case. It wants to make sure I don't forget too quickly the message it came to send.

Note - If you haven't yet, make sure you get a copy of Thrive. This is a wonderful and important book you don't want to miss! 

EXTRA SPECIAL NOTE - Register for the Thrive event in NYC on April 24-25 and  use the discount code Rep99 at checkout. The $299 tickets become $99!  It's going to be a powerful and inspiring conference - one you don't want to miss!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Not To Make A New Connection On LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn. I think if it is used properly it can be a powerful tool to network, market and build your business. The idea that I can peruse new connections at any hour of the day or night whilst in my yoga pants with no make-up on, is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Yet I continue to be amazed at how many people just don't get how to use it properly.

For example, last week I got what at first glance appeared to be a personalized email from someone who apparently I "share a group in common" with.  Don't ask me which group. The writer did not get that personal. 

Still he asked if I might like to connect further.

I don't. 

Here's why.

The next paragraph told me what he did, his closing ratio and how big the deals averaged. 

Nice information. But why should I care?

The paragraph after that was the real kicker. He asked if I have "considered or are considering going into consulting?" 

This was when I knew - with absolute certainty - that this was a form letter and I don't connect with form letters. 

Not that I don't suggest having a good, well written piece on hand with which to introduce oneself. The key is to remember to personalize it.

He didn't. If he had he might have noticed that my title in my LinkedIn profile includes the word "consultant." He might have read my summary which talks about my "consulting." 

But he didn't. 

The underlying message of his note was that he doesn't do his homework very well. There are no excuses for that - especially in a world where it is as easy as a Google search. 

At this point I saw this as material for a blog so I went nosing around on his website. It confirmed my suspicions that he was trying to sell me something. In this case becoming licensed by his consortium.

As I have written many times before - we are all trying to sell something. That is not my issue with this. My issue is - if you are going to do that start by doing your homework. 

He didn't have to read too far to see I was already consulting. In that case his pitch should have been something to intrigue me why a connection with his group is going to help me. 

But he didn't.

My guess is one of two things happened.

He relied on an automated system that probably pulled my name out of the pile through keywords.

He (or whoever he assigned this task to) didn't bother to think.

In an increasingly automated, digital world the need for humanization increases proportionately. 

You want to make a new connection? 

Tell me something that makes me feel like you care enough to at least read my LinkedIn profile first. Or perhaps, listen to this new Soundcloud audio version of what I do. In either case, do your homework first.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How To Own Your Story

One of the perks of teaching a graduate class at NYU is that I get to interact with students who come from all over the world with the most fascinating backgrounds. I encourage them to share their stories. As I see it their stories are part of what makes up their personal brand and it's important to get clear on what that is - especially in today's world where your digital footprint means so much. 

This always proves a challenge. 

Even more so than the telling of the story is in the owning of it. 

By owning it I mean really standing in it. 
Liking it.
Every inch of it.
The good and the not so good.
All the twists and turns.  
The bumps and detours along the way. 
The stuff that might embarrass us if we allow it to. 

It sounds easier than it is. 
Which is why most of us don't do it.
This lack of ownership is not limited to my grad students.

We trivialize our achievements.
We ignore the parts of us that others see as assets.
We think our stories aren't interesting enough.
We compare our stories and see ourselves falling short.
We don't see our own value.
We lack belief in who we are and what we are doing.
We forget that what makes a story good is all those twists and turns we've taken.

As someone who has reinvented three times my story has evolved over time. Each time I stumbled a bit before I got going. But when I started to own the place I was in my story - my authentic self took over and that's when it all started to flow.

When we own our stories we become a magnet. People want to know who we are. Read our stuff. Buy our products. Hire us. Maybe even take us on a date.

So how does one own their story?

You start by learning to like it. To see all the steps you took to get you to now as having purpose and value. 

It might require a mild out of body experience in which you step back and look at yourself as if you are someone you have never met - just some stranger you struck up a conversation with at a cocktail party.

Or simply an hour with a pen and paper writing down all those things you're good at, have experience with, the places you've lived, the adventures you've embarked on, the mark you want to make on the world, what makes you smile.

The more convinced you allow yourself to become that your story matters - the more you own it. And when we own our stories - everything changes.

So tell me - are you owning your story?

psst...the Big Countdown to Spring Sale continues over at Amazon! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trusting The Currents

Writers write for many reasons. Not the least of which is they love to read. At least that is the case for me. But sometimes I find reading difficult. 

I want to edit a line. Or I wonder how the piece made it to publication when mine got rejected. Then there are those moments when I am so in awe of another's writing that mine feels small. I want to write like that person and cannot imagine how it will ever be possible.

But then there are the times when none of that jumble occurs in my brain and I am simply transported to another world. I race to turn each page to find out how it will all turn out and yet I never want it to end. The words flow so effortlessly, I forget this is a story - I think I am living it.

That's what happened when I stumbled upon Trusting the Currents.

I met the author last week at an event I was invited to by my good friend Agapi Stassinopoulos. She and Lynnda Pollio were doing a joint reading sponsored by the Academi of Life and I went to support Agapi. When Agapi invites me to something I've come to expect incredible energy filling the room, interesting conversation and like minded souls. So I suppose I should have had more than an inkling I might leave with a treasure  in my hands.

But it still caught me off guard.

Trusting the Currents is the story of Addie Mae Aubrey, an African American woman living in the South in the late 1930s. But it's more than her story. It's one of those books that taps into one's own truths and gives you reason to pause, to reconsider and sometimes to say aha! The author calls it "a new genre of conscious storytelling." I call it brilliant.

Lynnda Pollio's journey to write this gem is as interesting as the book itself. Addie Mae came to Lynnda as a voice, and wouldn't let up until she got it all down on paper.  So I shouldn't have been surprised that as soon as I took it in my hands I felt something shift. 

One of the things I find living at this time in our history is that with all the technology we have at our fingertips that allows us to connect with each other - 24/7 - we often miss the most important connection - with ourselves. This story gives reason to do just that.

I've gotten pretty choosey about the hard copies of books I buy. In the case of Trusting The Currents I'm glad I opted for print. For one I got a signed copy. Even more so because this book took me on such a journey - being able to touch each page and hold it in my hands made it that much more real.

Whatever the edition you choose - my recommendation is you choose Trust The Currents

ps. I'll finish with a little shameless self-promotion. While you're over at Amazon don't forget my Big Countdown to Spring Sale is still on ;))                Kindle editions of my books just $.99!