The Most Important Business Lesson I Learned From My Father

My father and I have a tumultuous relationship to put it mildly. From a young age I remember we would sit together in the living room watching the evening news. Then over dinner we would discuss it. We never agreed on anything (and still don’t!). My poor mother would sit between us and try to stop us from arguing. You see we are both stubborn to a fault and never back down from a challenge.  As I got older I had the rare opportunity to go to work with him and watch him in his office. Now I realize how priceless that was.

He taught me a crucial business lesson that has stayed with me till today. Never give up. I have seen my father go through so much over the years, but he has never given up. What ever the challenge or difficulty, no matter how overwhelming the odds, he will overcome them. He never feels sorry for himself or blames anyone else. His faith, tenacity and strength of character see him through. Now that I’m a successful Executive Speech Coach and Keynote Speaker myself I appreciate that even more. I owe so much of my success to him and to what I learned in those formative years.

Now when I am faced with an obstacle, difficulty or challenge in my professional life I think ‘What would my father do?’ and that gives me the strength to keep going. Be strong and determined and you will succeed. Never give up on your dreams. Happy Fathers Dad! I love you.

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6 Ways That Public Speaking In Toastmasters Is Different From Giving Presentations In The Real World!

I want to start by saying that I am a big proponent of Toastmasters. In fact, my professional speaking career would not even exist without it. However, recently I have become aware of the stark differences between the Toastmasters experience and the real world. By real world I mean any environment in which you are required to do public speaking or give presentations in your day-to-day life. So this could be a sales presentation, a presentation to angel investors, a keynote speech at an industry conference or training a group of employees in your office. Here are six differences you will encounter that might surprise you:

  1. In Toastmasters you are coddled. It is such a supportive environment, that you often don’t hear the one thing you need to hear to learn and improve – the TRUTH. In the real world people will be only too ready to share their honest opinions with you – either directly or indirectly (for example you might lose a sale).  In Toastmasters even the worst presenters get a cushion of ‘warm gooey’ feedback. As an Executive Speech Coach in the real world, I find this incredibly frustrating because it hinders progress. If you attend one of my Public Speaking Workshops you will hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
  2. In the real world no one is there to time you. In every Toastmasters meeting almost ever speech and role is timed. In the real world you keep your own time and time is money.
  3. In the real world no one will count your filler words and every time you use one you will lose a little bit of credibility with your audience. In a Toastmasters club meeting someone will point out your filler words and if your language or grammar is lacking they will usually excuse it. In the real world the quality of your language matters as much as your public speaking prowess.
  4. In Toastmasters you can often speak about any topic you wish – especially when it comes to your manual speeches. In the real world you are often told what you will be talking about and it may not even be something you are passionate about – it could just be part of your job.
  5. In a Toastmasters meeting you can show up in sweats, unshaven, looking like you just rolled out of bed and it’s no big deal. In the real world the bank and your potential investors aren’t going to have much confidence in you if you show up looking like that to ask them for money are they? In the real world your appearance matters.
  6. In a Toastmasters club people want to support you and want you to succeed. In the real world politics abounds and many people have their own hidden agendas. Perhaps you are competing with other sales team members for top sales person rank so you can earn a coveted bonus or maybe you are running against other people in your political party to represent a riding – either way it’s a competition and people will be looking out for themselves.

I know I will upset some people by writing this blog post and others will miss the point completely, but it must be said. You see I often recommend Toastmasters to people who attend my Public Speaking Workshops and to my Executive Speech Coaching clients as a great way to practice their public speaking skills, but I know it isn’t right for everyone. Another reason I’m writing this is for all the Toastmasters out there who want to make the jump from Toastmaster to Professional Speaker – be aware of the differences and you are more likely to succeed.

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My Vancouver Life Blog: 2010 In Review

I am celebrating the one-year birthday of my blog this week! The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads WOW!

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2010. That’s about 15 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 27 posts. There were 51 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 15mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 15th with 111 views. The most popular post that day was About.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were vancitybuzz.com, twitter.com, nargesnirumvala.com, facebook.com, and vancitybuzz.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for http://www.myvancouverlife.wordpress.com, myvancouverlife.wordpress.com, what happened to lynn collier, filler phrases, and substance over style meaning.

Thank you to all my readers for making 2010 such a successful year!

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About December 2009

2

Worst Dressed Local TV News Personality January 2010
6 comments

3

Children Learn What They Live ~ by Dorothy Law Nolte May 2010
1 Like on WordPress.com,

4

Media January 2010
2 comments

5

Writing Tip#1: Eliminate Unnecessary Filler Phrases January 2010
2 comments

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New Poll: What Irritates You Most About Living In Vancouver?

I love Vancouver, but there are some things about living here that get under my skill and irritate the S*@# out of me! Vancouverites please take a minute to vote in my latest poll (see the red box in the right widget bar).

If you think of an answer that isn’t there then let me know! I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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5 Benefits Of Working With A Partner

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I am a difficult person to work with at the best of times. People don’t work with me because I’m easygoing or a delight to work with (really they don’t!). They work with me because I’m the BEST at what I do. I am brutally honest, opinionated, stubborn and always ready to defend my point of view….just ask my husband!

Recently I had the opportunity to work with my mentor on a new keynote presentation that deals with workplace communication skills. At first I was quite apprehensive. I am more of a lone wolf, than a pack animal. But by the end of the experience I was a person transformed. I learned so much about myself by working with someone else. As a ‘solo-preneur’ it’s something I have really missed out on over the years. Here is some wisdom I gleaned along the way:

  • Our partnership enabled me to see our project from a perspective other than my own.
  • It enabled me to see myself as others see me – warts and all (trust me I have some big, hairy warts – metaphorically speaking of course!).
  • It helped me grow as a person, because I had to trust my partner enough to allow him to disagree with me on a regular basis – not an easy task let me tell you!
  • It gave our clients a more complete and well thought out final product.
  • Last but not least – it gave me some much-needed humility.

Because of our synergy our presentation was a huge success (it actually sold out in just three days!!). I hope that this blog post encourages all the lone wolf freelancers and consultants out there to actively seek out partnerships and encourage contrary opinions. If you want to work with me on a project just drop me a line in the comments section below; the more different you are from me the better!

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The Island of Simple Pleasures

Today starts out no different from any other day. I make a list of what I hope to accomplish and away we go. At the top of my list is buying a new diaper bag. I convince my husband to come with me. After about 30 minutes of deliberation and modeling every diaper bag they have in front of the full-length mirror (and thoroughly trying my husband’s patience) I finally settle on a JJ Cole 180 in lime green and steel gray.

As we sit in the car I check off one more item on my to-do list and start lecturing my husband on what we need to do next. He has other plans however. “Where are we going?” I ask him “this isn’t the way to the supermarket.” He gives me a furtive smile and says “I thought we’d go for a drive to False Creek.” I try to talk him out it, but that doesn’t work. We only have one more hour of babysitting left so I’m rather anxious to make productive use of our time.

We arrive at Granville Island and surprisingly find parking right away. I hear the seagulls overhead, making virtual trails in the afternoon haze. Aroused by the aroma of fresh baked bread our first stop is La Baguette & L’Echalote. After sampling various breads and pastries, we decide to share an extravagant pan au chocolat. We go outside and sit in the courtyard. I take the first bite. The flaky pastry gives way to dark oozing chocolate. For a minute or two I have completely forgotten about my to-do list. We are serenaded by the sultry sounds of Spanish guitar as a busker takes residence in front of us. A delivery truck pulls up behind us and as I turn my head the driver rolls up the back door. He’s delivering flowers to the market. He pulls out a crate of white lilies. Their delicate stems dance in the wind and the sweet intoxicating fragrance overwhelms my senses.

“We should go.” I say reluctantly looking over at my husband. He decides to take the long way home and we drive up Lamey’s Mill Road, a quiet residential street. Suddenly I shout “Stop!” and point. I see the most amazing view of downtown Vancouver. I have lived in this city for over 15 years but never seen it look more beautiful. As my eyes fill with tears I think to myself ‘Wow, I live here!’

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If Money Was No Object, Would You Have Plastic Surgery?

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If money was no object, would you have plastic surgery? I asked myself this question recently after having my first baby. Pregnancy changes your body forever. I gave birth to a healthy beautiful 10 lb. baby. Yes you heard me right – 10 lb.! So we’re talking serious stretch marks here. Not only that, but my otherwise svelte stomach (one of my best features I might add) was transformed into a wibbly, wobbly mess. So the other day I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and thought what if…

As I stood there sucking in my stomach , I thought of my old school friend Ashley. She was gorgeous; long dark shiny chocolate-brown hair, sparkling blue eyes, naturally tan skin and a fit physique from years of athletics. But she was blessed with one imperfection, her nose. For years I had listened to her wax on and on about her nose. I never understood how she felt. Her own insecurity and lack of self-esteem would eat away at her over the years. Her nose was too big, too crooked, too ugly. No one would marry her because of her nose. She would never find love because of her nose. You get the idea. Ridiculous I thought – how shallow!

We went our separate ways but kept in touch. One day a letter arrived from my old friend Ashley (yes this was before email…I’m that old!!!). She shared that she had been in a serious horse riding accident – obviously I was horrified, until I read that she was happy about it. She was actually happy that she had been in an accident because it gave her the excuse she needed to have a nose job! She would never have done it otherwise. I wash harsh with my judgment and didn’t flinch from sharing my opinion with her. Now looking back I realize that I had no right to judge her or anyone else.

As I write this I can hear my daughter crying. She’s probably hungry again. I take her in my arms and look into those deep brown eyes and feel so grateful to have such a gift. I hope that I can instill in her the strong sense of self-worth and confidence that my mother gave me. My little angel has helped me realize that there are things in life significantly more important than my own personal vanity. Bringing life into this world has given my own life perspective.

Even if money was no object I still wouldn’t have plastic surgery. Would you?

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com.

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