Are YOU Destined For Greatness?


I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.

Jane Wagner (writer, director, producer)


Mercy recently turned twenty-five and she told me that she’s experiencing a ¼-life crisis. I didn’t know such a thing existed!


She’s not happy at work and knows she’s meant for something “great.”


She just doesn’t know what it is.


And that’s the enduring question – what makes life “great?” What would YOU have to do to achieve greatness?


Greatness is a “funny” thing. . .


Mary Lou Retton had her moment of greatness in the 1984 Olympics here in Los Angeles when she won five medals. She became an overnight sensation and was offered an array of attractive commercial opportunities.

There were aspects to her greatness that were not “great.” She readily admitted years later that, “Finding my own voice was difficult and I still struggle with it. But I’m getting better. When that physicality is gone and the title is gone, you have to find who you are. I’m really still trying to find that out. It’s a journey, it’s a lifetime process.”


Soccer star Landon Donovan took a three-month break from his professional career in 2013 to prioritize his mental health. He did so because he realized, “Our problem is we wrap our identity around what we do and it becomes who we are, so you see a lot of former athletes struggle with this, a lot of athletes that are no longer being recognized for what they did on the soccer field. They’re like ‘Well, what am I now? I don’t have this sport anymore.’”


Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was a war-hero fighter pilot and an MIT rocket scientist. He was a lot of impressive things, and then he went to the moon, and that’s all people knew him for.


He’s 91-years-old and he went to the moon when he was 39.


A few years back, in a GQ interview, Buzz recalled how his father wanted him to be brave and brilliant. So, he became what his father wanted him to be – West Point grad, fighter pilot, decorated war hero. He later went on to get a doctorate in rocket science from MIT.


NASA took notice and in 1966 in Gemini XII, he beat the record for longest space-walk ever attempted – two hours and twenty-nine minutes.


Then came Apollo 11, and he walked on the moon.


His father’s reaction?  “The second man to walk on the moon? Number two?”


What is a life of greatness??


In an interview with Tahl Raz, Jonathan Fields, author of, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, talked about finding one’s life purpose. Here’s what he said –


“Purpose” becomes this huge, crippling thing because many people in the personal development world say, “Step one is you’ve got to identify your life purpose, and then you can take action on it and know you’re doing the right things for the right reasons.”


To me, a much more intelligent way is to say, “Ok, what are the qualities of working life that allow me to come alive? Who are the people I love to be around to serve, to serve under, to serve with? What is the mission of the type of organization that really vibes with me? What are the specific types of tasks, activities and processes that allow me to become absorbed and enter that ‘state of flow?’”


When you break it down into these categories, it becomes much easier to look at the world of opportunities before you. It’s a much more mobilizing tool – a much more practical and effective tool.


It starts to get you doing work that’s most aligned with the things in your life that allow you to come alive. Through doing that work, over a period of years and maybe decades, maybe a much bigger purpose will become revealed.


The week after I turned twenty-five, I set off for the remote Pacific island of Weno in the Chuuk Lagoon of Micronesia. I had volunteered to teach high school.


It was before Google Maps and so I had absolutely no idea where I was going. On a Rand McNally map it was a pin dot.


I thought my life would be a series of grand adventures – but life got in the way and while I had adventures, they weren’t always grand in the ways I’d imagined.


“I know I’m meant for great things.” I’m moved by Mercy’s declaration. And here’s what I told her – if you think you’re meant for great things, then answer these questions:


  • What makes great things “great” for you?
  • Why do you want these great things?
  • How will your life be better after doing these great things?
  • How will your slice of the world be better?
  • What are you prepared to do to bring to life these great things?
  • What are you prepared to sacrifice for these great things?


But for all out failure to discover what we want,

we do in the end discover one thing:

we discover that the only thing in life that is worth doing is to search.

Thomas Merton


now THAT’S the business of confidence!









30 Quotes For a 30th Birthday!


It is generally understood among bloggers that an all-quote posting is a “cheat” as it is the easiest of writings. Now that I’ve made that acknowledgement, here is MY all-quote posting!


Last month my niece Mary celebrated her 30th birthday. I was flummoxed as to how to celebrate her milestone. Back in June my goddaughter Clare, who is friends with Mary, celebrated her 30th birthday and for her celebration I offered a listing of the “30 Things I Know For Certain.” In the span of two months, I haven’t learned an additional 30 new things for certain and so I’ve turned to quotes.


Mary is a collector of quotes – one of the things we have in common. I decided to gift her with the 30 quotes that I am guided by as I navigate life. So, yes, I know these 30 quotes to be true for certain, though you may not know that based on some of the decisions I’ve made and continue to make!


But here’s what I do know – embrace these flashes of truth and the next 30 years will be glorious – which is my wish for Mary and for all of you who read this posting!


  1. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain

And finding that “why” may take more than 30 years!


  1. Don’t ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.Howard Thurman

There is a world of difference between “living” and “coming alive.”


  1. 20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Mark Twain

That’s not to say you won’t have some disappointment by what you did – but – Twain is right on this.


  1. You must not ever give anyone else the responsibility for your life.       Mary Oliver

Including your parents.


  1. And you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?       Erin Hanson

Now there’s a scary thought – what if you succeed?


  1. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.          Steve Jobs

Imagine all that would not have been if he had!


  1. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.           George Bernard Shaw

There’s a difference between being a professional and an artist.


  1. If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.    Maya Angelou

You want to be amazing, yes?


  1. When we die and we go to Heaven, and we meet our Maker, our Maker is not going to say to us, “Why didn’t you become a messiah? Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such?”  The only thing we’re going to be asked is, “Why didn’t you become YOU?”                                           Eli Wiesel

Becoming YOU – that’s what it means to become amazing.


  1. Whenever someone comes to me for help, I listen very hard and ask myself, “What does this person really want— and what will they do to keep from getting it?”                   William Perry

Ponder that.


  1. He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love In The Time Of Cholera

A life-giving life, indeed!


  1. Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.              Brian Tracy

We live in a time when talk is cheap – but words have magic.


  1. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.                   Philo of Alexandria

I’ve yet to meet the person who isn’t fighting some battle.


  1. If you want to impress people, talk about your successes. But if you want to impact people, talk about your failures.                                                   John Maxwell

Real vulnerability comes from strength and creates connection.


  1. Our full humanity is contingent on our hospitality; we can be complete only when we are giving something away; when we sit at the table and pass the peas to the person next to us we see that person in a whole new way.    Alice Waters

Or as they say in Yap, “Hosachigachig!”


  1. A student asked Soen Nakagawa during a meditation retreat, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Soen replied, “Encourage others.”                       from Essential Zen

Perhaps the easiest of human acts.


  1. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou

Why do so many forget this?


  1. Every single job I got in Hollywood was based on knowing someone. Here’s a piece of advice: Don’t try finding people who can help you. Find people you can help.             Lewis Teague – Cujo / director

From a horror film comes hearty truth.


  1. All real living is meeting.                     Martin Buber

And so, there is no need to be afraid.


  1. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something great for someone.        Arielle Jackson

Sigh a sigh of relief!



  1. The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.Henry Miller

Which is why Anais Nin loved him.


  1. I can’t go back to yesterday — because I was a different person then.           Lewis Carroll

Happy present! Happy future!


  1. Am I a success or a failure?” is not a very useful question. It is better to ask “what am I learning?”  Bob Sutton

A great question from the man who wrote the book, “The No Asshole Rule.”


  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt

Easy to rob yourself blind.


  1. Just because you’ve gotten accustomed to behaving in a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Maybe it’s time to get unstuck.                         Twyla Tharp

Wisdom from a goddess.

  1. The business of life is the acquisition of memories. Carson / Downton Abbey

And cherishing them.


  1. There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.             Einstein

He really was a genius.


  1. There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.                Alexander Woollcott

Although many days I might want to argue with this truth.


  1. The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love. Henry Miller

And in the end – as in the beginning – love is all there is. . .


  1. Why not? Why not you? Why not now? Aslan / “The Chronicles of Narnia

What’s your answer?



I thank you God for this most amazing day,

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,

and for the blue dream of sky

and for everything which is natural,

which is infinite,

which is yes.

e.e. cummings

Out Trick The Fear of “Public Speaking”


My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.

Michel de Montaigne


My friend Becky (names changed) recently told me that her boss is worth $400 million – and – he’s afraid to speak in public!


Let that sink in. . .


Almost every person who seeks me out for public speaking coaching laments, “I don’t know why I’m afraid.”The reasons they offer seldom are grounded in hard logic. Many of the reasons are inane (and I tell them that).


People hypnotize themselves into a state of mumbled nerves, all while engaging in magical thinking:

If I talk softly, they won’t hear me say something stupid.

If I don’t look at people, they won’t ask me questions.

If I don’t show emotion, they won’t pay attention to my accent.


Why speak in a soft voice?

Do you think you are engaging?

Do you think people are grateful?

Do you think it makes you trustworthy?

Do you think it enhances your authority?




And, yet, people self-sabotage out of fear based in some weird thinking (and, yes, I am an expert in weird thinking as I’ve spent countless hours addicted to such thinking!)


This post is prompted by an email I had received from a client a few weeks before Covid hit and I never had the chance to share it.


Blake came to me determined to improve as a speaker. He had to as he recently opened up his own insurance office and speaking was a key component to reaching new clients.


We had been working on his techniques shy of three months when he wrote me –


I just finished with a client presentation, and did my default critique of all the areas that need improvement. Originally, this email was intended to provide you with that list. BUT you will be happy to know that when I fired up g-mail I remembered that I would be better served to take note on what I did well and express my gratitude. So, let’s start with that.


  1. My slides made sense and I understood what I wanted to do with them. They had real meaning.


  1. When I found myself in the weeds, I did a good job of being aware of that fact by stopping and asking for feedback.


  1. I made them and their needs the focus of my conversation.


  1. I stayed away from assumptions and always responded by asking them to confirm if I was right or wrong.


  1. I was energetic, compassionate and humble in my approach.


  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference for people.


Areas for improvement:

  • I was way too fast-paced and in my head.
  • I was all over the map and at times confusing.
  • I thought I was prepared but now I feel like I could have been more prepared.
  • I felt a little panicky, fight or flight-ish for some reason.
  • I could have organized my materials in a way that made things more clear.
  • I could have had a clear outcome from this call and a clear path for proceeding forward.


I wanted to cry I was so happy for him. AND I felt smug –

THIS is infomercial proof that with strategy + practice + determined patience you can develop as a confident speaker.


Another “infomercial” client is Summer. She is an accomplished and beloved high school administrator – despite being a too-nervous-to-be-engaging speaker. She races when speaks because she doesn’t believe she’s worthy of being listened to. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves!

Summer worked hard on a presentation she was slated to give at a Zoom conference. It was this talk that finally gave her the breakthrough she had been yearning – and – working for.

She told me that she closed with a personal story that was important to her. She shared the story with me and I was moved. It was a story that had “heart.”

Gifting her audience with a story that had heart allowed her to –

  1. Show passion
  2. Connect emotionally
  3. Share her enthusiasm
  4. Take the audience on a journey that made them think
  5. Reassure all that she is both approachable and vulnerable and so is “real”
  6. Tap into her humor which was rooted in joy
  7. Generate interest and welcome questions

She finally believed in the worth of what she was saying – and magic was created.


Oftentimes, in a first meeting, a potential client will say to me, “It would be nice not to be afraid, but I guess I’ll always nervous.”


Here’s the thing –

Maybe you WILL always be nervous.


Blake and Summer remind us – you can be nervous AND engaging.

You can be nervous AND confident at the same time.


The truth is – being nervous AND boring is simply a choice. . .


Now THAT’s the business of confidence!

How Does Your Family’s “Motto” Influence You?

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

Gerry Spence


I Zoomed with my client Jesse (names changed) last week and was surprised he was wearing glasses.


When I complimented him on the new look he told me that he’d never worn glasses before; however, he’s thrilled with the difference they make – he can’t believe how clear street signs are!


For years Jesse thought all signs were blurry because they were far away AND he presumed they were blurry for everyone!


He lived in a fuzzy world and didn’t know it. He just thought, “That’s the way things are.”


Jesse is a smart guy who excels in his job. He’s not a dope. He just didn’t know that there’s a better way to see.


And in that, he’s like so many of us. Take my other client, Richard.


In our first meeting he told me that he hates when people interrupt him. He thinks they’re rude and disrespectful.


He complained that many people interrupt him and he wonders if he’s doing something to encourage them in that behavior.


The following week (this was a short while before Covid emptied out business offices) I sat in on a meeting with Richard and four other executives, as they wanted to explore training possibilities for various teams in the company.


During the meeting, one of the executives interrupted Richard and he immediately shut down. Everything about him changed – his face, his posture, his overall “vibe.” He glared at the guy.


Richard later told me that when growing up, his parents insisted he and his siblings not interrupt when adults spoke – and they didn’t allow for freewheeling discussion. The family motto was: don’t interrupt people – it’s rude.


But is a person automatically rude if she or he interrupts?


I don’t think so.


What about the person who comes from a large family where everyone had to compete to be heard and interrupting was accepted?


Colleen, who works in the Trustees Office of a major not-for-profit, told me that when growing-up she was warned by her parents – “the shy starve.”


Her challenge is the flip side of Richard’s.


So, too, Eva, who is a project manager. She took one of my workshops because she wanted to learn how to manage her “difficult” team. At the end of the day, she shared with me her “Ah-Ha!” moment – it’s not her team that’s difficult, it’s that she is difficult!


Growing-up she was told by her mother, “When your father tells you to do something, do it and don’t ask questions.”


Eva is new to her role as manager and is irritated when her team asks questions. She came into the workshop hoping to learn techniques for eliminating the team’s need to ask questions. She left with a new-found understanding of the importance of asking questions.


Here’s the thing – every family lives life guided by a motto.


Sometimes it is spoken aloud; other times it is implicitly understood. But no matter, this mantra guides a family as it navigates through life.


Family mottos take on their own life.


They influence how we see and interpret people and situations.

They become the air we breathe.


When I was growing up, my family’s mantra was: trust no one.


My father was a cop. His job demanded that he be leery of all. I breathed in that mantra without thought or doubt. Later in life I had to work hard to overcome its limitations and to trust people.


Without understanding your family’s assumptions about how life is lived, you will be setting yourself up in subtle ways for stress and misunderstanding.


Give yourself an “eye exam” and identify your family’s motto.

Does that motto help or hinder you?


now THAT is the business of confidence. . .


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]



10 Ways to Telegraph to Clients You’re a Trustworthy Person



The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,

to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.




People hire me for my skill as a coach and trainer – BUT – they rehire me because they trust me.


At the core of my work is the belief that all of communication is about two things: Psychology + Strategy


Understand what makes you tick

Understand what makes the other person tick

Then you can develop a strategy for getting heard and understood.


In practical terms, what this means is – we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason. No one “just is.”


We communicate so as to get our needs met – every time.


THE greatest need that each one of us has is – the need to be seen.


There is no greater fear than the fear of being ignored. Dismissed. Misunderstood.


When people believe that we “see” them then they will trust us.


Trust is grounded in seeing.


While there are many ways in which to reassure folks that you “see” them, here are ten of my go-to techniques.



  1. Know your story. What are you about? Why do you love doing what you love doing? AND are you open to the stories of others? Our stories are not in competition with each other. Rather, they energize and enliven each other, so that in a real meeting, stripped of pretense, the phrases you’ll hear said repeatedly are, “That happened to you? This is what happened to me!”


  1. Look for points of shared commonality. Whenever I meet with someone for the first time, I’m looking for where their story intersects with mine. I approach expecting to be impressed. I approach with curiosity and am quick with a compliment. Being genuinely interested in someone makes you genuinely interesting. And people tend to trust interesting people.


  1. Be light-hearted for there already is so much that drags life into puddles. Humor goes a long way to making us more approachable.



  1. Don’t bash or complain. Negativity has a life of its own. If they complain about the team’s work, inquire why. Don’t play into their negativity because what good do you hope to accomplish?


  1. Know how to describe and characterize your professional hallmark. “This is my approach” – can you make that assertion with confidence, surety and pride? People are drawn to another person’s self-awareness when it is grounded in humility and not arrogance.


  1. Call a person by their name. There is no sweeter sound.


  1. Demonstrate how you personalize your work with and for them. Let them know that you’re not simply performing a “routine.” Let them know you understand and “see” their need.


  1. Play off of energy. Pay attention to the different energies in a meeting or an encounter. Bring your own unique branded energy by asking questions. Ask, “What are you thinking?” all the while being patient.


  1. Don’t be desperate. Know that you’re not right for everyone. It’s not personal. It’s not rejection – it’s a matter of style preferring style.



  1. Offer gratitude. Develop ways to telegraph gratitude that reassures people you value their value.



Now THIS is the business of confidence!




Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]




How To Break Through Fear


Your life is what your thoughts make it.




Recently I Zoomed with Jasmin (names changed), a new client who wants to learn how to engage and not repel people. She claims she turns off people because she has a hard time making eye contact and gets nervous when talking, especially with people she doesn’t know and so doesn’t trust.


Because Jasmin has a great smile and friendly energy I was puzzled – what is she telling herself that makes her feel so uneasy that her unease becomes off-putting?


Jasmin eventually revealed she’s afraid people are going to hurt her – not physically, but emotionally.


When I asked when was the last time someone had intentionally or unintentionally hurt her, to her surprise, she couldn’t recall!


Her fear has as much validity as the fear of getting hit by lightning on a clear day. While she recognizes her fear is bogus, it still paralyzes her.


Facing down fear, no matter how irrational, is hard because it requires that we  change and we can’t change until we acknowledge the fear is irrational. 


There’s more. . .


The truth is – the only person who likes change is a wet baby!


Before any change can take place, we have to recognize the sneakiness of our resistance

what are we truly afraid of? 


Jasmin isn’t afraid of people. She’s afraid of being hurt by people. Or more accurately, she’s afraid of the possibility of people hurting her.


Change is not about a personality makeover.


However, only when we decide to do something new can we then resolve to manage our self-sabotaging behavior.

We can resolve we’re not going to continue to be entrapped by our old, fear-induced rituals. 


Managing our self-sabotaging behavior is ALL about learning how not to screw things up for our own self.


Here are four steps to take so as not to get in your own way. 


First – when a fear kicks in, stop and ask yourself, “Am I simply reacting out of habit?” 


Jasmin revealed that when she goes into a work meeting, virtual or in-person, she gets nervous because she’s afraid of getting hurt. But there’s no one in that meeting who will hurt her without her permission.


Since she knows she works with good people, getting nervous is just her default setting.


Second – ask yourself, “Is there another way of doing this?” 


I urged Jasmin to take a moment before entering a meeting room and say to herself, “I’m entering a room where no one wants to hurt me.” She must talk down the fear of the irrational lie that people want to hurt her.


Third – be present – commit to showing-up in the moment. Stay present.


Don’t get caught up in psychodrama of your own creating.


Fourth – celebrate the win for “change.”


At some later point, take a moment to acknowledge that you resisted caving in to the power of whatever lie you’ve been telling yourself. Power comes from and in acknowledgement.


Our self-sabotaging lies become the air we breathe.


With practice we can reduce their power and break through to a new way of being and doing.


now THAT is the business of confidence. . .



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]


You Admit You’re Difficult – So Now What?


Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

                                                                                                                                Frank Outlaw

Last week I offered a seminar on “dealing strategically with difficult people.”  During introductions, three out of twelve admitted that they were taking the workshop because they know that they themselves are difficult.


I admired their willingness to be upfront in a group of strangers.  At various points during the day, each of these self-identified difficult persons recognized various aspects of their ultimately self-sabotaging behavior in my presentation.  However, I had the sense that they had resigned themselves to the fact that “that’s just how I am.”


One man admitted that in his capacity as a manger he frequently yells and slams doors.  “My team knows that’s just how I am.”  When I asked him why he didn’t just stop, he said it felt good and he didn’t want to.  Everyone laughed.


I’ve no doubt that he does feel “good” when he has his hissy fit (that’s what it is).  But, why does he keep doing this when it’s not going to get him what he says he wants? The respect and eagerness of his team.


Thousands of books have been written on “how to change” bad behavior.  Anger management classes abound.  But, why, when we know we “shouldn’t” engage in certain behaviors, do we go ahead and do so anyway?


Perhaps, that is THE question each one of us needs to ask:


Why do you do what you do even though you know, consciously and unconsciously, that it is not going to get you what you really want? 


Each of us must answer this question and until the question is grappled with and answered a person is never going to be able to change destructive behavior.


I also don’t think you can change ingrained behavior without the help of a coach –someone who can help you stay honest with yourself, help you hold yourself accountable, and guide you in implementing new communication strategies.


Accountability is key to change. . .

THAT is the business of confidence!


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]






10 Traits of a Confident Speaker

Nothing would be done at all if we waited until we could do it so well
that no one could find fault with it.

John Henry Newman


When I was going through files from a Public Speaking workshop I delivered at UCLA five years ago, I came across this checklist I had compiled.


Because it’s evergreen, I’m sharing it with you this week. . .


A confident speaker / presenter:


  1. Knows their stuff – maybe not inside and out, but they know what is required of them in any given circumstance and knows how to find the helpful answers when they don’t readily know an answer.


  1. Knows how to reassure the other person(s) that they are in good hands by being in the moment and using words that are true. In this way, confident people don’t waste other people’s time.


  1. Believes they have something worthwhile to give – whether it’s seemingly insignificant or operationally impactful. What they have to give may not be life changing, but it will make the other person’s life a bit easier.


  1. Knows they are “odd” – and in what way they’re odd. Hey, we’re all a bit whacky and we can only be confident if we understand our own quirks.


  1. Has a sense of humor – they can laugh at themselves and even helps others laugh at their quirks and foibles.


  1. Is willing to risk making a mistake for the sake of doing something new, better or bigger for the promise of elucidating their material.


  1. Doesn’t make their audience into something that they’re not. They understand that the audience (no matter the size) shares much in common with them and that commonness gives them access to their audience. But, they also understand the specifics of what makes their audience unique and do all they can to speak to that unique reality.


  1. Is not afraid of being nervous and recognizes that it’s a healthy feeling. Confident people know they can be nervous AND confident at the same time. They know that being boring is a choice.


  1. Can make adjustments on the spot. Because they’re sure of their material and overall goal, they can tweak as they engage. Yes, they can “think on their feet.”


  1. Understands they can’t do everything within the allotted time they have with an audience. And that allows them to not feel frustrated because their “gift” fits within the box created by the allotted time.


I think these ten traits can be condensed into just one:

 A confident speaker / presenter has realistic expectations of their own self, the other and their relationship AND based on those expectations, a confident person is happy to give an audience whatever gift they’ve prepared for them, believing that good can come from the mutual experience.


now THAT is the business of confidence!



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

 To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]





Business, like life, is about how you make people feel.

It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

Danny Meyer / Setting the Table



My brother, Peter, was in town for business and we made plans to get together for dinner. He asked if Rod, an associate of his, could tag along. Since Peter doesn’t know boring people, I said, “sure!”


That night Peter showed up alone. Seems Rod was nervous that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about and so decided to set out on his own.


I’ll admit – I was stunned. How could three world-traveled grown men not have “stuff” to talk about?!


Peter explained that Rod could be shy at times.


I get that Rod could be shy since I was painfully shy growing-up.


I was shy because I believed I was boring. And I believed I was boring because I didn’t live an exciting life by my definition of “exciting.”


Lost in the confusion of this jumble of draining thoughts, I shied away from people, claiming to be shy, lamenting that I was boring.


I really wanted to buy Rod a drink and assure him – all would be well! Alas, he never showed. . .


Conversation may be a dying art and skill. If it isn’t, there are a whole lot of people who do not understand what conversation is and why it is so needed for our well-being.


Conversation is not binary opposites centered on agreeing or disagreeing, arguing or withdrawing.


Conversation is something GRACIOUS because it is rooted in engaging another, being present to another. That means the graciousness of conversation is laced with matters of responsibility and respect and clarity and discovery.


Shy people offer me the common refrain, “I only like to speak when I have something to say,” while overly-confident people boast that they, “like to tell it like it is.”


Neither stance opens you to the possibility of conversation because neither attitude allows you to be gracious.


REAL conversation springs from a posture of seeing the other person as a Surprise.

In my UCLA class on business communication, I ask participants to reflect on who influenced them as communicators. I expect that they will tell me tales of family or teachers or friends who impacted them. It’s not uncommon, though, for people to name Oprah, Anderson Cooper, and even a Miss America!


BUT, these are larger-than-life personalities – not individuals who directly and immediately helped to shape a class participant.


We ourselves don’t have to be larger than life. We just have to be within life.


I have oft quoted the great poet Mary Oliver’s “lessons for living life” –

Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.


Victoria’s mom (names changed) died when she was 16 and ever since she has been guarded in her relationships. She hesitantly wondered if there’s a connection. When I suggested therapy, she said her dad nixed the idea since therapy is only for “crazy people.” We ended up talking about what’s really “crazy” when being willing to give-in to fear.


Bethany was not forthcoming regarding why she is defensive around her co-workers. She played with her key card and kept her head down. I found her coy attitude annoying and had to force myself to stay with her. And then she randomly mentioned that her son introduced her to the writings of Malcolm Gladwell – and she lit up! We talked about the impact Gladwell had on each of us and I was gobsmacked when I learned she’d done her Master’s thesis on non-verbal communication.

Ken cried as he shared with me that he had not been kind to women and broke several hearts when he was younger. When he met the woman who is now his wife, he did not feel as strongly for her as she felt for him. She’s the one who wanted to get married, more than he did. He married her because he believed that he needed to be punished for having hurt those other women. We ended up talking about love – love for self and the place of forgiveness in love.

Michelle, a sales person at my favorite furniture store, shyly asked if I was a Cancer. She became alarmed when I told her I’m a Capricorn and that I was born in January. She anxiously asked if it was the 10th – and was relieved when I told her it was the 7th. Her mother’s birthday is January 10th.  She assured me that “Things will get better. These last six months have been hard, yes?”  She then abruptly started to talk about the company’s move of the manufacturing plant to North Carolina. Just as abruptly, she asked, “Why are people afraid to love? Is it something in the dirt?” And again, I found myself talking with a stranger about love – and dirt – and Wicca!


I didn’t change any one of these folks’ lives. Nor did any change mine. BUT – in the exchange of conversation, unexpected, poignant and, yes, odd – in a moment of vulnerable authenticity – we entertained, we bonded, we opened up each other’s world a bit.



Each was gift.

All of which brings me back to the “business” of confidence. . .

Confidence is about seeing the nooks and crannies of your life. About not taking the seemingly insignificant aspects of your life for granted.


Confidence is about talking about those nooks and crannies because somehow they are worth sharing.


Sharing implies benefit – for you and for the “other.”


Can you believe that there’s something “good” you have to share?


That’s ultimately what confidence is – it is about trusting that you have some good worth sharing.


Confidence is about being open to the surprise of another who is “other.”


Interesting people know their story.

Interesting people know others have a story.


What you share doesn’t have to be worthy of mention in PEOPLE.


There is value richer than PEOPLE from your unique perspective – as there is from that of the other.

When I leave a lively conversation I feel energized because it has encouraged me to be less self-centered, less afraid.


Conversation brightens.

Conversation makes you feel less alone.

And so, conversation can make you feel generously unique – can make you feel YOU.


and THAT is the business of confidence!



I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.


I mean not just standing around,

but standing around as though with your arms open.

Mary Oliver


People Are Consistent – You Know That, Yes?!


To grow is to change and to have become perfect is to have changed often.

John Henry Newman



My friend Veronica’s dad, Ed (names changed), had a heart attack last month. Veronica’s mom didn’t tell her until a week later as she didn’t want to worry her.


Veronica was ready to dash over but her mother said, “Don’t come. If you want, stop by on Saturday.”


Veronica felt frustrated, but decided to honor her mother’s wishes.


On Saturday morning she called her dad and asked if she could bring him anything. He told her not to come over. Upset, thinking he didn’t want to see her, she went over nevertheless.


Her mother’s car wasn’t in the driveway and when she rang the bell there was no answer.  Worried, she called her dad’s cell. Not realizing she was at the door, he told her to stay home.


“You’re not going to let me in?” she pleaded.

“Oh, you’re here?” He sounded surprised, which annoyed her.

“Yes, I’m here. I’m outside.” 

“Why did you come?”

Exasperated, she said, “Because I wanted to say I love you and give you a hug.” 

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that.”

And, yes, he did sound touched.


Later, Veronica told her mom the saga. Her mother sighed and asked, “Why do you pay attention to what he says? You know how he is!”


Veronica laughed because her mom was right. Her dad doesn’t like anyone making a fuss over him and he’s never been an affectionately demonstrative guy.


Why would she think a heart attack would change him?


Well, she thought it would change him because she wanted it to change him!


Veronica has shared numerous stories about how exasperatingly independent her dad can be. This latest fits within a pattern, so I asked why she’d been hurt when he told her not to visit.


Veronica knows that his first reaction in time of crisis is to rebuff people. Why take at face value what he says?


He was happy to see her and was touched by her care. Why does Veronica always allow herself to feel hurt when he initially rejects her help?

Old habits die hard. 


When people are in a relationship, communication patterns develop and take on a life of their own. 


This is especially true in families.


Veronica continually gets tripped up by her dad’s fear of imposing on her and so she finds herself trapped in a cycle of worry, hurt and relief.


It’s draining.


Veronica’s dad most likely isn’t going to change, but Veronica can.


She can change her attitude and more readily see through her dad’s fear (and her own).


What about you? 

Are you trapped in a dance that is continually tripping you up? 

Don’t wait for the other person to change – make the first move!


now THAT’S the business of confidence!


Do you want to break through the old habits that are preventing you from being influential and heard?


To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

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