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Thursday, December 29, 2011

When Introverts Focus on What Works

Yesterday I had a rough day. I watched my partner and her kids hit the road for a fun roadtrip while I stay behind to keep the house in order; discovered one of the songs my band has recorded now has only 30% or less of my harmony in it; and began stressing over my business pipeline for January. I knew better than to let any of those things get me down, but on the other hand, I immediately felt sorry for myself. I fell into the pattern of relishing the pity and fell into a pretty deep hole.

So I got out - although not out of my predicament, I did get out of the house.

Fortunately I had places to go and things to do. Three and a half hours later my spirits were better, I was thinking differently and I had a plan for focusing on things with a positive behavior change.

For most introverts, when we are hit with difficulties, we ruminate over them until we really process the "feeling" part of the challenge. And we're so good at going deep to problem solve that we go deep with ourselves and end up with disaster. So it's imperative we switch our focus from those things that don't work to things that do. At these times, we need people around us who are focusing on other things - light or heavy, either can give us a break from our ruminating. Yet if the topic is more serious we put more meaning into it and let this new topic replace our old ruminations.

Focusing on what works means either paying attention to those things we are skilled at or experienced in or focusing on other people's thinking. Get absorbed in something other than yourself and you walk away with new perspective about your own situation. For instance, last night I attended a goal-setting seminar presented by David Emerson Smith, intent in paying attention to his seminar approach as well as his goal-setting process. In both counts I admired several things.

Although I was paying attention to Dave - deeply immersed in learning - I immediately shifted to applying his ideas to my own seminar approaches as well as applying his ideas about positive behavior change to my own goal-setting. I walked away refreshed and motivated, seeing the opportunity in time alone, in seeking constructive criticism for vocal harmony or other band-related responsibilities and in shifting my pipeline activity to more productive efforts.

For us introverts, the best way to dig ourselves out of a hole is to give the shovel to someone else. You read how this worked for me. How can you do this?

Friday, December 23, 2011

In Good Company

6 degrees of separation demonstrates the power of community by suggesting how interconnected we are to others. In social media, the LinkedIn platform readily links networks of all my contacts, proving how by connecting to 700 or so folks I am really linked in to 6,500,000 with 9,600 just in the past 4 days. Yet the most poignant focus for me, as an introvert, is who I really connect with - other introverts.

This morning I found a great video montage on Youtube of famous introvert celebreties. As I watched this video I recalled the essence of each celebrity personality and found a quiet, wisdom from each. That's something worth linking to. Enjoy your own contemplation of this by clicking on Famous Celebrity.

Like what you see? You're in good company. Keep this file at the ready for those days you undervalue yourself or feel less than motivated. Introverts are the game changers for progress and perception in the world. And you create good company for those you're around as well. Remember that this holiday season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Your Speaking Gigs for 2012

In my theatre experience folks often ask me, "Merri, do you prefer directing or performing?" And my usual response is, "whichever I'm doing at the moment". I have come to love the craft of the performer - planning for an event or show, rehearsing it, gathering the nervous excitement prior to it's starting and then finally experiencing the flow of the performance when well-prepared. The audience response has to be the best part of it, though.

Yet, the directing piece allows me to witness the light-bulb moments of others: both those performing and those in the audience. From the exploratory process of connecting the performer to their part (message, character, delivery, rhythm, etc.) to the shift from their own anxiety to excitement - working with others on helping them really love what they're doing and who they're being is precious.

And the same goes for speaking.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Conquer your Fear of Public Speaking

I work with some of the best public speakers - and many of them are introverts. Yet several have also been extroverts. They share a common interest - conquering their fears.

Where the introvert is the commonly held example of an individual who fears speaking in public, the extrovert can also relate.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Introvert work conflicts start from within

Do you find yourself questioning your choice of career after you've already begun it? Many of us do, and yet for introverts, sometimes we talk ourselves out of the very career that gives us purpose - at the very time that we could actually do ourselves and our world the most good. And then we hang in the balance between purpose and results.

Monday, December 19, 2011

If you think you're out of practice

Ever feel you just can't make enough improvements because you don't get enough practice? Many speakers would agree this is something that holds them back. And to a degree, I understand. Yet I also know this type thinking is an example of narrow application.

Many litigators have told me a similar tale. They focus their energies on the argument and the strategy yet can't get enough presentation  practice. Their inability to learn key techniques and then apply them to regular life prohibits their presentation and just may be prohibiting their practice. One presentation basic, being clear, can be practiced in many daily ways.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Extroverts can sometimes relate

Although it seems extroverts and introverts struggle with getting along (see this article for some tips and detail), quite often both temperaments are flexible enough for the other. Especially when the conversation directly focuses on temperament. It seems these are the times we are most ready to learn.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Flowing into an Introvert's Short Bursts

Tomorrow is going to be a pivotal day for me and my band, No Excuses. We have another gig at the People Called Women Bookstore in Toledo, and before that we will be spending a few hours in a recording studio. We're working on our first cd of original work!

That's so exciting to me. Ever since we set a goal to record by the end of the year, eventually found a studio we could afford, and then determined which songs to highlight, I have been giddy with anticipation.

It's not something I've really spoken about much in conversation with others, yet it's been a constant conversation in my head. I'm not sure others in the band have discussed it either, for we'll all introverts. Yet we're all feeling the same way - nervous but excited! Similar to how we feel just prior to another gig, yet recording gives us lasting impressions of our work.

Susan Cain shared something unique recently in her blog post called, What Kind of Happy are You? In the post she lists the most common introverted approaches to happiness - approaches extroverts misunderstand about happiness. In the 5 styles, I most often relate to happiness in short bursts and those of flow. In the case of this weekend, the anticipation of performing again live is driven by my "flow" of great energy I experience when singing with this band and the short burts of enthusiasm when others appreciate the individual pieces.

Although introverts may not have excessive enthusiasm, the happiness is still very real. And I know going into the recording studio I will most appreciate the "flow" of adrenaline while experiencing the process of putting this record together. I may even laugh at some point. Although the outward signs may not point to "happiness", I will definitely experience it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We love structure!

I so enjoy the picture on this post. As a work of art it is compelling, focused and fun. I love the structure and where it takes my eyes.

Not always do I enjoy structure. I don't like being confined to a desk, told what to do and how to do it. But when it comes to understanding what to expect in a new environment or out of new people, structure is my friend.

There are key ways introverts benefit from structure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From Security Blanket to Sport Coat

Yesterday's Rethink the Security Blanket post introduced the idea Linus Van Pelt shares in Snowflakes of adjusting from wrapping his security blanket around him to donning himself in its splendor. As introverts, we usually wrap ourselves up in the blanket to avoid moving forward in social settings that make us feel anxious. We can take some action to rethink this so our comfortable assets become professional attire. We can use our natural operations as sport coats.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rethink the Security Blanket

I love seasonal Charlie Brown clips, especially the Christmas ones. But you have to see this opener with Charlie Brown and the gang called Snowflakes. The clip opens with the gang enjoying the freshly falling snowflakes. In it, Linus's skills at target practice also stand out.

Lucy, not wanting to be undone by her younger, blanket-toting sibling, flings a tart remark about his adult life, and it makes me think of how each of us tend to have our own security blanket.

The introvert is often seen as someone who can't stand on their own without aid of someone or something else, yet while Linus often demonstrates in the Peanut clips, he is quite adept with how he uses this security. And like you saw in the above clip, he has made it into a tool rather than  a crutch.

Rethink the introvert's security blanket - perhaps it's taking time to think before making decisions, or standing off from the group to observe and quietly participate. These, too, are tools that sharpen rather than hamper our abilities.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Introvert Nuggets

Back in the late 1980's I directed a high school production of The Outsiders, based on the book written by S.E. Hinton which deals with the challenge being part of the "have nots" as a teenager. The school production was a huge success, for it has been in the literary curricula and relevant to most teenagers.

One of the lines Ponyboy (the main character who is working through being respected while living life among hoodlums) dwells on is "all that glitters is not gold". Thelogians, philosophers and even literary bard William Shakespeare have written about distinguishing the loud from the valuable. This is a value of Ponyboys and one of the introvert as well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mission Possible

As my readers know, I've written about ways to celebrate the introvert over the past several weeks. I understand their struggles with extroverted behaviors, especially as attorneys and other service professionals who need to develop strong client and network relationships. I am also an introvert. And I have a mission to help introverts share their strengths with the world.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting Back to Thinking

King Solomon is legendary for his ability to discern judgment. Consider how he handled the issue of which woman was to keep the newborn baby when 2 claimed to be the mother. No DNA testing then, no experts or witnesses to speak on either's behalf. So when King Solomon called for his sword to split the baby in two, the real mother called out in horror to let the other keep her child.

Getting back to thinking will save our world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Building Conversation

I can remember sitting at the cafeteria tables with my high school friends listening to spirited conversation about fashion, music or relationships while I nodded my head and smiled between bites of my lunch.

I wanted to appear interested eventhough I hadn't a clue what to say. Although my mind was chatting away - I really don't care about what dresses Jane wears....Spiro Gyra - that's a band name not a ride at Cedar Point? - nothing seemed to come out of my mouth. I was stuck.

Today, dinner parties, some networking luncheons and other social engagements lead me to feeling the same thing. Often the conversation is around topics which mean little to me. At these times I could use some guidance on how to build conversation, in meaningful ways.

In yesterday's post, E. F. Hutton moments, I shared the idea that the quiet leaders often say very little. We introverts don't need to keep up with extroverts on the quantity of participation in conversation . We want to be purposeful and valuable. In so doing, we simply want to know how to participate in meaningful ways while many around us simply add superficial comments.

Of late the following three tips on building conversation have served me well:
  1. Offer an observation based on what you have just witnessed, read or experienced. We introverts spend much of our time thinking and supply this activity with fuel from observation and reading. In addition, we reflect over our experiences and would relish getting feedback.
  2. Ask a question that seeks information about an opinion, instruction, etc. This is a natural direction for us to take. We introverts help others out by getting more information for others to reflect on.
  3. Share an opinion or idea with the listeners. Although this is often the last in our means of contributing, it is quite often the most important. As thinkers, we introverts can share perspective others are not considering.
It may not be surprising that the rich parts of conversation come from us introverts, at least if we actively build ourselves into it.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    E. F. Hutton moments

    I was born in 1960, so growing up in the 70's I often saw TV commercials capitalizing on the power of E.F. Hutton's people engagement. I guess that meant he was wise, said few words and was deeply respected. He was a quiet leader. If you'd like to have fun with the 1970's TV commercial, click here.
    For some reason, many today believe the ones to be respected are the talkers that command attention by taking the floor the majority of the time. They have lots to say and are willing to share. They are loud, have great energy and often know how to make people laugh. They entertain.

    What leadership style works is generally different for people, yet one thing is evident - leaders come in all styles. This is great news for the introvert. If we are to advance and excel in our careers, using our strengths is key, and also taking advantage of opportunities to speak. Business meetings, networking events, public forums all offer opportunities for our E.F. Hutton moments.

    There's no need to feel we must become extroverted and change our personalities. When we embrace the quiet leadership style, accept the invitation to share, smile while sharing, we gain respect in quiet ways.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    We really enjoy ourselves

    Introverts are known to spend time alone.

    For those of us who are not introverts, we assume when someone is alone we must call or visit them. Certainly they wouldn't want to be alone. Yet for introverts, being alone is a treat.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    On the Introvert Wish List - Part 3

    Last week I wrote parts 1 and On the Introvert's Wish List - read at your leisure. Today's focus is something I will be craving by the end of the week.

    We have several activities lined up to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Starting with Thursday, which includes visiting, eating out, and probably more visiting. Then hitting the road Friday morning to get to the Ball State game for parent's day, then out with the family, then next morning the same adding more to the mix, then the long drive home. I will cherish the long drive home.

    It doesn't take long for the introvert to exhaust their energy when around people. A few hours, and instead of being recharged by those they're with, we get sapped of it. So a precious gift you can give an introvert is time to simply step back, perhaps within the same room, and watch. There's a concept of the flaneur which comes to mind.

    "As a member of the crowd that populates the streets, the flâneur participates physically in the text that he observes while performing a transient and aloof autonomy with a “cool but curious eye” that studies the constantly changing spectacle that parades before him." This individual gains energy by taking in his surroundings, writing the scripts in his  head of what is going on within those he sees.

    Our long drive home will give me the chance to participate as a flaneur in my quiet, observant way. Yet if given the freedom to be on my own, doing my own thing while with others - not needing to actively engage in conversation or games - I can then get my wish as well. Some see this as my being aloof, yet this is a treat for me, as it is for most introverts. Having time to observe without participating is relaxing and refreshing.

    Have a chance to give an introvert a gift? Consider allowing them the flaneur's freedom. You'll get them back later, full of energy!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Validation or Education - Which feedback do you want?

    We watched her struggle through her presentation, rambling on about the points she thought she should make, voicing thoughts and finding examples, yet not sold on anything herself. Her stream of consciousness speaking, evident by her inner-focus and demonstrated by her commitment to talking through her thoughts, gave her the chance to produce some poignant, insightful remarks. But she didn't know this. She was still digging, still trying to clarify her message.

    She sat down, crumpled in her chair, glad to be finished.

    We applauded, knowing she needed support. Yet what we were all wondering about is, who was going to tell her how to pull these thoughts all together? How were we to offer the assistance she needed?

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    They'll Laugh at Me

    Being laughed at is one of the most devastating, dibilitating fears for the majority of us, especially for introverts. It keeps us away from speaking platforms, participating in meetings, trying out for group activities as well as from going out in public.

    If we have this fear, it's because we've directly or indirectly experienced humiliation, and we assume it will happen again. It's a story we tell ourselves to keep us from taking a risk that makes us uncomfortable. It's a story that plays over and over in our heads to keep us in our comfort zone. And the more this happens, the lower our self-esteem. Soon we have shut ourselves away and greatly limited our unique value.

    This is a story. And we are the authors who can change it.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Living along the continuum

    I've been doing it for awhile, and so have others. We classify ourselves as either introvert or extrovert, forgetting we have tendencies towards each temperament. We tend to view our choices in life as whether they support who we are - whether outgoing or reflective - before we finally conclude, "Yes, I can do this. It's who I am." While awareness in our temperament gives us wisdom, helping us understand ourselves, this awareness is not the means to the end.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    On the Introvert Wish List part 2

    Yesterday was part 1 of On the Introvert Wish List, focusing on giving them time to think. Today I'll address what's to me the second most important item on that wish list - the chance to get away.

    Retreat is a coveted desire of introverts.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    On the Introvert Wish List

    Extroverts, by nature, want things that go fast. Introverts, by nature, want things that go slow. The holidays are coming around the corner, and as we become more mindful of what those we love really appreciate, we can better support their wish list.

    Included among the few things introverts wish for (and there are several future blog postings to address these) is Time to Think.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Getting the Introvert into Practice

    In Cypris Chat I ran across an article on Readers' Theatre Circle written by Professor Merryman. In the article Merryman focuses on the exploratory activity of gathering folks together to read aloud cinema scripts, focusing on intonation, timing and other conversational and improvisational elements. As a theatre director and performer, I recall doing similar things and getting such creative insight as a result.

    Of late, I made use of a variation on the activity to build my confidence prior to presenting a teleseminar.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    #Introverts One on One

    Although we tend to think of introverts as lacking social skills, when it comes to one on one relationships, introverts shine. And last night I felt on top of the world because of it!

    A coaching client who has been with me for just over a year deserved recognition, so I took him out for dinner at a classy restaurant in Columbus. Through the meal we transitioned from one conversational topic to another, easily, for we have grown to enjoy each other's company. Ultimately, he asked me, "How can I help you grow your business?"

    Perfect. At that point we launched a plan to again meet, review his contacts, and identify those who are isolated and want like-minded individuals to share new perspective for business growth through master mind group members, are using or plan to use public speaking for marketing purposes and want support or want a more involved communication coach. My client's wheels were spinning on my behalf.

    After jotting a few notes down he looked up at me and said, "This next year I will be using you in more ways as well, especially with public speaking."

    One dinner resulted in expanded services and referral support, not because the food was good. It was outstanding, though. It was because this client relationship was based on results, strong rapport and my continued interest showing I value his trust in me. Introverts shine one on one. The more we use this asset, the better.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    For the Introvert Reader

    Introverts can't have too many self-help resources. We eat them up! So today I want to focus on one for the job seeker.

    I have already shared the resource, self-promotion for introverts, by Nancy Ancowitz. In my posts The Introvert's Marketing Game Plan and Now for the Don'ts of the Introvert's Marketing Game Plan you'll learn a lot of useful tips for the introvert business owner/sales person. Even the job seeker will benefit from some self-awareness insight.

    But today, let's focus on another resource - The Successful Introvert: How to ehnance your job search and advance your career, by Wendy Gelberg.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Introvert Pain Point #1

    There comes a day when we introverts say to ourselves, Won't it get any better? I had just hit my 40's, a time when I was heavily reviewing where I had been and where I hoped to go. I had been teaching high school English, speech and theatre and felt I had reached the pinnacle of my career in regards to what I could accomplish in the school district. But I still felt isolated.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Introvert Energy Needs

    I've been keeping to a disciplined schedule of early morning blogging, exercise and then on to my day of appointments/research/marketing, etc. Add to this the evening networking and then reading for research and that brings the "No, not yet!" response when the 4:30 alarm goes off prior to the same schedule that includes an early morning networking breakfast.

    All introverts need downtime. Put networking events and face to face meetings in their schedule, you better also insert time for themselves. Yesterday's schedule left me feeling exhausted by day's end. However, I know that if I forsake my routine of exercise and writing, my day is not given the boost of energy it needs nor do I feel purposeful in sharing my strengths with the world. So my discipline of coaching myself into what I need is key. By end of the exercise routine my step will be quick, my mind focused and my attitude ready to roll.

    I've only 2 outside appointments today - which allows me the alone time to be purposeful in planning, taking a walk outdoors to reconnect with nature and build my energy reserve. In 52 years, I have learned my energy needs and what it takes to be purposeful.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Networking Tips for Introverts

    At a recent networking event, my goal was to create ease with introverts. What may be surprising is my intention was easily accomplished. Once I walked into the event I noticed exactly what I expected: lots of social activity in the center and pockets of individuals at a small distance from the exuberant groups. It was to these individuals and pairings that I slowly connected with.

    Attending a networking event means attending a non-structured environment. And the test of a non-structured environment is determining how to handle ourselves, when to make adjustments and finally deciding how much is enough. For the extrovert, networking is easy. Walk in and mingle. Enter existing conversations, introduce yourself and continue until the group thins out and you no longer have anyone left to talk to.

    But for the introvert there are the constant butterflies while facing a group you don't want to expose yourself to. Managing the desire to walk away is the biggest challenge. At least until you exercise a few key tips.

    Networking tips for the Introvert
    • Tip: Look for someone who is hanging off to the side. We don't have to step into groups and existing conversations. We aren't wired that way. All we need do is find someone on the edges who is looking like the way we feel.
    • Tip: Then walk up and say what you're thinking - "I don't know about you, but I prefer one-to-one connections at these events." They'll almost always agree with us, grin, shake our hand and say what they've been thinking, too. This opens the communication to one of true connection.
    • Tip: Use your slow, natural pace. You'll have time for thinking and the introvert you're connecting to will have time for thinking as well.
    • Tip: Set a goal of how many people to meet. This could be 3-5 people that we can handle before we need to walk away and recharge. I usually set a goal of three business cards to walk away with. I know I've met my goal when I've connected with 3 people that I want to reconnect with, for whatever reason. Maybe I've had 6 conversations - my goal is to walk away with 3 cards from new people or those I've met before that now I realize is someone to have coffee with for a particular reason. The cards in my pocket tell me when it's time to leave. Otherwise I keep walking along the fringes of the group to seek that next person, who like me, would rather be somewhere else. Except that they need to network to keep business going.
    • Tip: Just say your first name. Folks connect easily when we simply say who we are vs. what we are. In time the work that we do will surface, but we don't have to push it out in front of us. We just need to be who we are.
    Networking isn't just an activity for extroverts. If  you are an introvert, you now know the tips of how to make it work for you. It's a quiet game of knowing who to look for, where to go, what to say and when to leave.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Introverts' Phone call anxiety

    I can't think of many things more anxiety ridden than picking up the phone to make a call. The apprehensions around what am I about to say, will it come out right and what if I need to leave a message all flood my mind, causing me to stall. Suddenly the refrigerator calls to me, or the need to use the bathroom, or wondering about my email inbox.

    For one, unless I've thought through my call's intention, I won't dial. As an introvert, I think through everything. Process is comfort. So ask me to do something at the spur of the moment and it happens within 10 minutes or so.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Hardest Part is What We Crave

    Where I grew up in Findlay, Ohio is a pizza parlor that was the first in the area - Jac & Do's. Their thin crust pizza with ground beef and cheese is the best! You can roll the tiny square-cut pieces right into a roll and pop them in your mouth - so delicious! With a pitcher of beer, it's the destination place of almost the entire community!

    Lately I've been craving pizza, so yesterday when I attended a luncheon to preview a presentation of a local contestant prepared for a national speaking contest and saw that pizza was served, I thought: Oh no. Can I control myself? In front of us were varieties of pizza, including some that resembled the type I used to enjoy back home in Findlay. Messy, ingrediants rolling off, the type you just wanted to make a mess with. What happened was what I had anticipated - I started off with control (2 strips and garlic bread) and then I gave in to it. After two bites I knew I wanted more. So I took another two. And enjoyed it!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Where's the Faith?

    Yesterday I was returning to my office from a morning coffee meeting downtown Columbus, and I began to notice a pattern in several pedestrians. Many are unafraid to make eye contact. This encourages me. I am quick to smile at those who are willing to connect, to which they often share a greeting.

    Now that I'm tuned in to my surroundings I notice a lady in a scarf clutching the wrap around her neck while staring at the sidewalk. Instantly my mind reflects to earlier beliefs. Things aren't working. What am I doing?

    The introvert's self-view is often one of doubt. Thoughtful and reflective, we question ourselves, quick to believe others' over our own thinking. We assume the second-seat in our own courtroom. Although we are expert in ourselves, we defer to the opinions of others. Such has been my struggle throughout life.

    Tap, tap, tap. Exiting a bus and turning left onto the sidewalk towards me is a blind lady with her cane poised, searching out the signs she is on the right path. Head high and open to the world, she quickly passes by, jolting me by her faith. Her world view is that of confidence. She steps forward expecting to be supported, not waiting for assistance but taking charge. What a value system! Although she has the right to seek assistance - entitled - she has faith in her abilities and in the world around her.

    And in case I questioned my own perspective of what I just saw, next come three more pedestrians, their blind canes in hand, some with seeing eye dogs. Smiles on their faces, heads positioned forward, they were taking on their day, full speed ahead! What a sign for me!

    Introverts, where is our faith? We, the reflective, the contemplative, the thoughtful are best served with our positive energy not only towards others, but supporting ourselves.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Putting pen to paper

    Yesterday a friend gave me some quality time over coffee. This resulted in my remembering one of my unique gifts. Thank goodness. It got me out of bed this morning!

    While at Starbucks we were talking about what has been holding us back in our businesses. This struck me, for it's been an area of focus for me for quite some time - how can I get a better grasp on growing my business? It seems I know the answers - I've just been focusing on the numbers and not seeing my strengths. One of them is in telling the truth, especially through honest reflection of my own experiences. As an introvert, I reflect on myself frequently, usually in self-deprecating ways. Yet I know the value of shifting that focus to break down my introvert barriers, barriers that keep me in a box.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    7 Benefits of Putting the Introvert into the Spotlight

    This post was sent out at the beginning of the year. I've since dug it out, revised its focus and want to share it again!
    If you opened this, chances are you want the benefits of the spotlight AND want to be reminded of your value.
    As an introvert, I have come to see spotlights - times speaking in public - as unexpected sources of energy.

    Yes, I still thoroughly enjoy days away from the crowds, schedules free of appointments and the time and space to research, analyze, and create in isolation.

    But I must admit there are huge benefits for us to seek the spotlight, even us introverts. And these benefits are humbling. But a quick survey is important - who are you?

    Our world needs us
    If you relate to the introvert's world, chances are good you fit one of a few different types.
    1. You could be thoroughly invested in a few subjects of importance, deeply researching them, tightly invested in experiencing them, and even full of understanding that subject matter. If so, you are a critical resource to audience groups. Perhaps you write to share your knowledge. Yet if you were to speak, you'd have a huge following. People want to HEAR from experts.

    2. You may be the type who are more focused on people than tasks. If this is true, you appreciate good energy, poignant moments that move your spirit and demonstrate good will. If that is the case, you are moved by and interested in strategies of influence. As you develop that skill, you grow in creating a buzz because your audiences make an emotional connection with you, support you, and love you. People want to HEAR from someone who moves them.

    See why the world needs you in the spotlight? Read on to learn the benefits to YOU.
    7 Benefits to Being in the Spotlight

    7. You get to begin a new relationship with people. When we step in front of an audience, we open the connection to the world around us in such a profound way. Our audience gets to experience our energy - how we demonstrate passion for ideas and compassion for others. (a concept Dan Rockwell has blogged about through an interview with Apple's Jay Elliot).

    Our audience gets a head and a gut feeling about us, that even if the content doesn't lead them to seek us out, their experience does. Regardless, we remain top of mind to them. What a tremendous opportunity!

    6. You get to reveal your communication style. Quite frankly, we connect naturally to those who communicate the way we do. Whether as a humourist, a cynic, a nurturer, an analyst, or whatever the style, people's ears perk up when they connect to their own style. Within every audience there are 10%-34% who will align with your style, solely based on how you communicate. This helps people like you.

    5. You make your value visible. Whether you represent an organization or yourself, you become the visible example. The more often you are visible, the more your brand is visible. Your name becomes synonomous with what you are expert in, yet your FACE gets immediate recognition. You will bring your value top of mind to your audience every time they look at you.

    I have been blessed to have good experiences when speaking, so one of the results is the times when, out of context, someone sees me in a public place and actually touches me while recalling what they experienced. "I could relate to the desire to stand up and say what was on my mind and you give me a strategy to do so. What a relief that was!"

    They relive that value, and I get to walk away aware of my value from their point of view.

    4. You prove your credibility. I have a pet-pieve about speakers who don't know when to shut up, or seem to glory in their own voice, or in how great they are. Yet your willingness to share useful insight, to offer some tips, to compare ideas metaphorically for new perspective is a gift you bring to your world of listeners. Your willingness to share something of value, and your doing it in ways most appropriate to the audience motivates people to not only like you, but to respect and perhaps trust you.

    3. You get immediate feedback. When audience members like, respect and trust you, they clamber to their feet before you leave the presentation room because of something you've motivated them in. They ask further questions, revealing what is most of interest/need to them. They give you their business card, and they are basically saying, "call me". As speakers we have just weeded out the not-yet-interested and identified those who are. We know who to follow up with - or at least who to start with.

    2. You get in front of many people in a short amount of time. Speaking lengths can be 60 minutes, 20 minutes and even just 10 minutes. It doesn't take an engineer to state that good use of the time can be a sales person's dream. What usually takes 60 - 90 minutes with any given prospect, slowing down the number of appts in a week, can instead boost the sales ratio while committing less time to more people!

    1. You have the chance at the end of your talk to suggest Next Steps. I was just in a teleseminar with Carrie Wilkerson yesterday who talks about Wanting the client, Wooing the client and Winning the client. The end of a well-constructed talk, one that engages curiousity and action, is the appropriate time to suggest a way for your audience to have more than just a taste of what they have already enjoyed. This is the time to move from the wanting and the wooing, to the winning. It's not about creating a hard sell. It's about helping your audience know their options.

    Which of these benefits work for you? For me, they all work. Get started.
    Want to know more about how to get started? Visit Breaking Down Barriers services page to see what step is best for you to take. Start getting these benefits. Your clients, co-workers, and key relationships deserve to see their world based on the benefits your talents have to offer!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Technical Difficulties rebranded as Opportunity

    Yesterday I ran a teleseminar on 4 Ways for the Introvert to Overcome Fears of Public Speaking.
    I chose to have the session recorded, thinking I could use a link to it for marketing purposes. Then when several interested callers told me they couldn't attend that day and wanted access to the recorded session, it made sense to send out that access right afterwards.

    I had a very busy day yesterday and should have realized I would run into difficulties since I had never experienced running a teleseminar before. Murphy's Law - when something Can go wrong, it Will, especially when it involves technology.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    What you intend, you attract

    It's Friday morning - the best work day for most of us, for we see the end in sight. Chances are good it's easier to get out of bed this morning than other days through the week.

    When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Someone about to plod through the day? Someone ready to take it on? You see what others see, and therefore what you will attract.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Introvert Needs

    This morning I gave a 2-hour presentation on Emotional Intelligence, which focuses on understanding our emotional needs, how we acknowledge them, respond to them and apply the same respect to others. The presentation was well-received by the audience, triggered much participation and conversation afterwards. As soon as I could, I left the environment. And this is based on my introvert emotional needs.

    Although it's nice to get the audience feedback and recognition, that doesn't warrant staying around, in my book. What I prefer, similar to what most introverts prefer, is downtime. Time to reflect, to calm down, to have space and time for centering.

    Introverts have needs that support their strengths.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    The Truth about Introverts

    When the focus is on social scenes and types of people, we want to know what to expect. Included in this is, how many of us are introverts vs. extroverts? Today I have read from 5 different sources, 5 different percentages.

    In an article written in the past few months on the introvert and networking, the author says "about 70% of us are extroverts, I think". In another source I read 51% or more  of us are introverts. In a researched paper I saw that in the US we have shifted from 30% introversion in the 1960's to about 68% introversion today.

    What does this all mean? (aside from where are these percentages coming from and why are they so disparate?)

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Let's Rehearse!

    If you're like me, you feel anxious when you haven't had a chance to rehearse before a presentation. Your mind is constantly turning to its presentation page when you hit your pillow. You get up the next day and the alarm bells are going off that there is an issue you've not yet focused on.

    There it is. It's time to rehearse.

    But who is your audience? You could gather your peers or supervisor into the seats in front of you and talk through - even speak through - your message. Yet, you'll no doubt claim they have better things to do with their time. So now what? Your significant other? Friends? Will they know what to say about what's working and what isn't? Do you trust their sense?

    One Hour Presentation Review
    Consider setting aside one hour for a third-party review. BDB services lets you select what you will spend that time on - determining content, framework of message, delivery, connection, impact you wish to make. Or if you'd like, just be open to what comes up that will give you improvements and allow you to look forward to the presentation you have coming up.

    Small Group Presentation Review
    Is your practice group or firm wanting to enrich the power of its existing presenters? Perhaps each of them would appreciate having a resource come to them for a limited block of time. Observe each speaker in 30 - 60 minutes blocks of time, share what's working, provide tips and let the others observe before they also get coaching. What a great use of half or full day training - individualized focus while enrichment with others's presentation style!

    Let's rehearse. It's the number one way to create confidence in what you have to offer - seek the feedback that compliments your particular style.

    Contact me for details at merri@bdbcommunication.com

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    A community service that works - securely

    If you're in professional services, you can mix recycling your computers with creating community good will. Although many of us are concerned about personal information getting into the wrong hands, the risk/responsibility increases with client data stored on our hard drives. When we replace our hardware every 3-4 years, we must be cautious. Thank goodness Columbus has a place we needn't be concerned about data security.

    The Community Computer Alliance, started by Dan Hurst, bridges the gap between technology and community. This non-profit organization recycles all computer hardward, softward and accessories. With the mission making technology available to the community that needs it most,  CCA takes your old computers and components and refurbishes them, then donates computers to low income families, disabled individuals and senior citizens.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    6 Steps to Developing Business with Public Speaking

    The last thing an introvert wants to hear is the value of public speaking. Yet as business developers, they confess, the best way to gain sales is through relationship creation. And standing in front of a group to help them experience who we are is a huge relationship enhancer, and the best use of our time. All it takes is practice. Practice done perfect isn't expected. Practice done well is worth exploring.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Problems at the Podium

    I have a keynote to deliver this fall that I've known about for a few months. Back when it was scheduled I did my research. Now it's time to create the outline, the framework and put it into action.  In summary, plan, prepare and practice!                                                                   I know my approach to public speaking is different from most presenters.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    For Lawyers - 4 Guidelines for Improving your Professional Pace

    Not to be confused with PACE University, whether online or in New York - which has a school of law- or with the P.A.C.E. program of Houghton University, which boasts a management degree for working adults, pace in this blog post has to do with speed appropriate to the moment.

    For decades now females have entered the business and professional world thinking they need to increase their pace to keep up with their male counterparts. Whether in the corporate setting or otherwise, there is a sense that a quickened pace rules the culture.

    In sales, the driven often rise to the top quickly. One mark of who they are rests with their speed - accelerated compared to others.

    Yet pace, in all its NASCAR glory, has little to do with high speed when creating success. Ironically, high speed has many things to do with creating failure.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Print Resources for Self Growth

    Here are 4 of the best resources I have grown from over the course of my professional career. Lawyers, how would these apply for you?

    Think & Grow Rich by Napolean Hill
    From this book I was inspired to create Master Mind groups, some that I now call Business Owner Accountability Groups (for the small business owner) and Solo Practitioner Accountability Groups (for the lone attorney).

    Readers also get motivation in necessary business traits like decision-making, organized planning, mental toughness, etc. Its a classic still on my shelf and often reviewed today! A relevant read for the attorney.

    The 12 Bad Habits that hold GOOD people back by James Waldroop and Timothy Butler
    Subtitled, overcoming the behavior patterns that keep you from getting ahead, this book is a comprehensive study on the 12 common patterns we fall into and cases of professionals struggling through them.

    Each of us wants to accomplish certain things over time, yet we all fall behind based on the above patterns. Until we are aware of and address these patterns we will not accomplish what we want. Pick up this book for your own reference.

    The Power of FOCUS by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt
    Subtitled How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty, one of the key chapters for me is about habits - those we strive to practice and those that perpetuate the patterns that hold us back.

    Among other things, our creation of habits is key in our ability to focus, especially in multi-tasking environments or those with huge time commitments such as the attorney world.

    self-promotion for introverts by Nancy Ancowitz
    Subtitled the quiet guide to getting ahead, Nancy understands what is at risk for the introvert who owns a business or is responsible for business development. Without excusing the introvert for resisting self-promotion, Ancowitz instead helps us focus on those things we are naturally good at and suggests how to use them to develop business.

    Full of techniques and tips, this will help avid readers put actions in place while helping them feel better about promotion. Lawyers are most commonly introverts, so this is a great resource!

    For more book recommendations, visit my LinkedIn page: www.linkedin/in/merribame

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Lawyers: Take a fearless and searching moral inventory.

    Not only do addicts work the 12 steps, so do their personal development supporters.

    I learned this recently after lunching with a friend who told me of her journey with self assessment. She is now on the 4th step, the one that takes tremendous courage and objectivity. Taking a fearless moral inventory of ourselves helps us break down barriers, and it helps the AA member move forward in their program.

    What does this have to do with attorneys? Everything. Just like in other professions, the more we manage ourselves, the better our influence with others. The 4th step is pivotal for courtroom influence, office/firm effectiveness and client development. Without it, we flounder.

    After my luncheon with the above friend, I decided to take a fearless moral inventory of myself, only to find there are key issues I need to address.
    In many ways I am a control freak. Starting with organization and/or time management, I prefer things to have structure, for I know I work best within defined structures. Yet, I often am in unstructured environments that others don't want structured. The lesson for me here is to give up the need to control and become flexible. Today I make a point to allow myself to adjust as needed. Big lesson for me, yet one that I've already seen beneficial.

    For instance, the more days off I take (I'm a workaholic) the steadier my business. This doesn't make sense to me, yet it tells me I need to just let go and trust. This will continue to be a tough lesson for me, yet the more I note the benefits in being flexible, the greater my motivation.

    Along with my need to control is my need to explain my expertise. I know where this comes from. It's a barrier pattern called, Never Feeling Good Enough that plays in my head. It's my own experience that when given constructive criticism, I feel deflated instead of educated. Not everyone responds this way. Nor should I.

    What I know about vulnerability is, the more often I admit mistakes, ask for help, or seek perspective the better equipped I am in the future. Yet when I offer apologies, I often fall into the trap of explaining my actions. Unfortunately, my apology appears ingenuine - and it probably is. If I were to simply apologize, offering no excuses, I am closer to building trust, feeling less anxious and on the path to moving forward. Vulnerability is essential for leaders, followers, business builders, professionals, parents and educators. Vulnerability is the key to my own humility which is crucial for understanding and love.

    I must take the time to think, to reflect, to observe and to understand. When I do, I prepare myself to self-manage. Instead of constantly running and doing,  this practice allows me to be grounded in what's going on around me and how I'm contributing.

    Not to be contrary to flexibility, the more prepared I am with handling unplanned circumstances, the better equipped I am for mentally being flexible. When I taught high school, it used to really throw me off if, while in the middle of a classroom activity the fire alarm would sound. My first instinct was usually - why weren't we alerted?! Didn't administration respect us enough not to interrupt our efforts?

    Although at times the alarms were due to true emergencies, sometimes I had simply failed to remember earlier communications of upcoming classroom disruptions. This led to lack of preparation on my part. My busy schedule has usually prohibited preparedness - thus to be better prepared I need to take control of my schedule.

    Taking a fearless and moral inventory of ourselves requires reviewing the things that upset us, then taking responsibility for what we need to correct in ourselves. Not easy, yet when we take this step, just like addicts, we will move forward in our own development.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Presenting Well: The case for rehearsal

    Tonight my band, No Excuses, is rehearsing for several hours before playing 2 gigs this weekend. I'm a bit nervous about the gig on Sunday, because we have only been rehearsing for Saturday's performance. Since Sunday's is twice as long, we'll no doubt use about 3 hours or so to focus on Sunday's gig before we polish up for tomorrow's. Then I can breath better and sleep well.

    If you are about to present a case to a jury, an informational topic to prospects or open an event for your community, it takes practice. This is not a mental review, reading over a script. This is an on-your-feet, outloud rehearsal, complete with movement, projection, eye contact and high energy. In front of others.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    What Being a Jurist Taught Me

    5 or 6 years ago I had the occassion to sit as a jurist in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. I recall sighing heavily upon getting the notice in the mail. A solopreneur, I wasn't happy to potentially lose a week of business for the sake of doing my civic duty.

    Little did I know what would come from this new perspective.

    I was numerically high on the list, in the first group to be interviewed through voir dire and was selected to sit to hear arguments in a case determining the extent of damages the defendent should pay to a surgeon who suffered injuries during an auto accident.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Merri's Tips - Part 10

    51. Tap into your inner child. You may wonder how this works in the professional environment. Well, if it's a stretch for you, then let your inner child come out in your off-work hours.

    For me it happens when I perform with the band I'm in. With my out of-town-band, No Excuses, I freely laugh, joke, sing with my heart, wear fun hats and unabashadly move to the music. What I end up with is a performance in authenticity.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Lawyers: Pack Your Mental Diet with 3 Ingredients

    The first week of August (2 weeks ago), I was away for a camping vacation. During that time I set aside my Blackberry and disconnected from my regular communication with the world. I felt a bit as though I had stepped into a boat to get to the other side of the lake, away from the 5,000.

    Disconnecting helped me reconnect with the best energy in life - nature and the divine. This mental diet not only helps me survive but creates the ability to thrive!

    Now that I'm back in my professional life, I need to keep my mental diet intact. Just like you, I get overwhelmed by multitasking, projects, deadlines and the cesspool of constantly flowing information around me. Yet today I remember the power and focus of my mental diet by focusing simply on 3 key ingredients.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Lawyers take note - our biggest flaw

    Everything I coach I have personally needed to develop in - and to a degree, still need. Whether that is public speaking, interpersonal performance or intrapersonal behavior. So when I speak of our biggest flaw, I definitely include myself in the assertion.

    We get in the way of ourselves far too often. Of all things, that's our biggest flaw. I don't care how old you are - I'm in my 50's. I don't care how educated you are, where you were raised, how many in your family or what your current professional responsibilities are. You and I still get in our own way and get ultra frustrated about it.

    Is there anything we can do about this?

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    The need for downtime

    Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick...your brain is full, the creases are marking your forhead and the To-Do list is growing.
    When can you close up shop and head out? Your stomach is growling, the weekend relaxation calls and your family and friends nudge you into distraction.
    If you don't say NO, you feel like a dunce. If you don't say YES, you feel irresponsible.
    What's a professional to do?

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Now for the Don'ts of the Marketing Game Plan

    Yesterday I shared the value of picking up a copy of this paperback or hardbound copy of Nancy Ancowitz's extremely resourceful book. If you think you COULD be an introvert (dislike mingling at networking events, would rather not give a presentation, prefer to stay at your desk for lunch, etc.) this is a great resource for those of you needing to originate business.

    Yesterday's post, The Introverts' Marketing Game Plan: The Do's , lays out 5 useful tips for the introvert to do for self-promotion. They make sense for the introvert.

    Today is Nancy Ancowitz's concise list of what NOT to do.

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    The Introverts Marketing Game Plan: The Do's

    Nancy Ancowitz's book, self-promotion for introverts is one of the best reads I've found that helps the introvert understand their strengths while trying to promote business. If you can relate to the introvert, get a copy of this book. I know - business development is the hardest piece for this intelligent, committed individual. Yet if learning some techniques and remembering your strengths is the first step toward getting back in the game, get this book.

    Here are a few nuggets you'll uncover:

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    Solo Practioners' Accountability Group

    Malpractice, client complaints, workload overwhelm - all these spell disaster to the solo practitioner. And yet this entrepreneur who wears all the hats while reporting to nobody endures the risk of these things on a regular basis. Truth is, you don't have to go it alone. For some, coaching is a valuable option. Yet the budget of the solo practitioner may not support it. Is there an affordable, timely option for creating accountability?

    Lawyer's world: Turnabout is Fair Play

    Digging deep is a behavior pattern for the lawyer to engage in when uncovering evidence, researching history and background, questioning witnesses. Search requires getting past the roadblocks, the barriers to the goldmine.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    6 Facts about Public Speaking Anxiety

    When I was a child I was ultra shy. The middle child in my family, I developed the pattern of letting my older sister do the decision-making and my younger brother handle conversation.

    That pattern made me comfortable yet did little to help me break away from the communication barriers I created. What this means is, I had problems entering conversation, getting to know people, making decisions and feeling confident around people. Later in life when encouraged to speak up at meetings or to groups, I suffered physical anxieties like diarhea triggers, focus issues, cold hands, and weak knees.

    Researchers tell us that social phobias like public speaking anxiety start in childhood with shyness. If we don't address them, they progress through adulthood.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Merri's Tips - Part 9

     50. Remember your manners. It seems when we are tired, worn out or challenged by things in daily life, our manners get forgotten. Recall what you learned in kindergarten about being nice, friendly and personable.

    51. Choose those times when manners aren't needed. Whether you're being bullied or physically attacked, manners will get you no place. Quite honestly, these are the times when you must show your muscle. Stand up. Speak up. Listen up. Buck up. These times are few, but how we play them will demonstrate what we are made of.

    52. Do what it takes to find rest. Our minds and our bodies will be in constant motion if we don't quiet them. I'm not the one to say how to do so. Each of us inherently knows what it takes for us to be at rest. It's our job to do it. It's a commandment. And on the 7th day...

    Quieting our mind is part of intrapersonal management. Becoming aware of our emotions  (what we are feeling) and regulating them (determining how we prefer to feel and then focusing on this) are essential for our minds to be quieted.

    Gain confidence in this and we gain control over manners, relationships, responsibilities and how we present ourselves.