Here’s How to Make Your Own Luck

One thing was certain: I was NOT dressed for a job interview.

It was early December, 1994, and I was at the Army-Navy football game at the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. My brother was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, and I was a senior at American University in DC, so this was a rare chance to meet up with him and my parents and have fun at the big game.

When it was over, I hopped on the Amtrak train to head back down to DC.

Over the next two hours or so, I couldn’t help but overhear the two men in front of me talking shop. It was clear they did something in government and international relations, which was my major, and I was in the market (and would have killed for) a spring internship on the Hill or a post-graduation job.


This was a perfect opportunity to introduce myself and see what was possible.


Except, of course, anyone who has been to a December football game knows the uniform: layers upon layers of sweatshirts, thermals, hats, scarves, mittens… whatever is needed to keep from freezing to death while watching the game. Oh yeah, and no makeup.

This was NOT the professional first impression I generally wanted to make.

But I had a choice to make, because in about 10 minutes the train was going to reach the station and I would never see them again.

As passengers started to get up to collect their things in the final minutes, I made my move.

“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear part of your conversation about your work in (X). I’m a senior at American studying international relations. I just got back from a year abroad in Japan, and I was wondering if you knew of any openings for spring internships in your organization.”

The one man stared at me intently for a moment, then reached into his pocket and handed me a business card. He was a naval commander with the Department of Defense.

“You have chutzpah,” he said. “Give me a call.”

A week later we met for tea, and after a few more introductions, phone calls and interviews, I had an amazing internship with the US-Asia Environmental Partnership.

As the saying goes, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Being in the right place at the right time brings opportunity, but we still have to recognize it when it shows up, and have the courage to go for it.

Someone else who lives by this philosophy is this week’s guest on the Speaking to Influence podcast, Yesi Morillo, SVP and advisor to the Hispanic and Latino Community at Citibank.



Yesi shared several stories of how she has actively leveraged seemingly little moments on the elevator to plant seeds that bloomed into amazing professional relationships that never would have been possible if she hadn’t recognized the opportunity and made the most of it.

How does she get ready for these moments?

Simple, she said: “You don’t get ready, you STAY ready!”

Yesi offered tons of great tips, one of which was keeping a little card in her wallet or phone case with whatever stats or information she thinks might be relevant in one of these serendipitous moments, so she always has her key numbers ready for quick reference when those moments arise.

In our interview, we also explored:

  • what it means to be an “employer of choice”
  • the differences between being mentored vs. being sponsored
  • inclusivity and allyship and how YOU can be a part of the solution
  • And more.

Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.

Remember what the former NHL great Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.”

Don’t miss your shot on gaining the inspiration waiting for you on this episode; tune in!

How to Bring Your Passion to Work to Influence Others

Do you ever feel like the whole world thinks they know how to do your job (and that it’s easy)?


In my “former life” when I taught public school in south-central Los Angeles, it used to drive me crazy when I’d hear people dismissing teachers’ frustrations with completely erroneous comments like, “They’re done at 3:00 and they only work 180 days a year; what more do they want?”


I’d always give the same response: “I have two words for you: Birthday Parties.”


As that inevitably was met with confused looks, I then explained:


“Think about your kid’s birthday party. You have a dozen kids at your house for two hours, playing games, doing arts and crafts,                         opening presents and eating cake. Parents typically stay, so the ratio of kids to adults is 1:1. You spend several weeks planning for it,                   and when it’s over, you collapse on the couch (probably with an adult beverage) and thank heaven you won’t have to do it again for                     another 364 days.


Now triple the number of kids and send all the adults home. Instead of games, make them sit still, don’t let them talk, and teach them math. Then give them a test. Regardless of how much math they knew upon entry, what behavior problems you faced, who was sick, who came late, or who hadn’t eaten that day, if they fail it’s your fault and their scores will be used to evaluate your professional competence and future potential.


Oh yeah – and do it five times per day, every day. But no big deal, because it’s only 180 days per year, right?”


(Any idea what teachers are doing with the rest of the days of the year? Hint: think PLANNING, for starters.)


Why would anyone keep working under that kind of scrutiny?


Passion. Passion for education, passion for children, and the determination to make a positive difference despite the odds, the nay-sayers, and everyone else who thinks they know how to do your job.


That’s the kind of passion Christine Ostrowski, Chief Financial Officer of Overbrook School for the Blind demonstrates in this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence podcast.


With a career history in financial management in the education world, she knows full well that everyone has an opinion, but not everyone understands how grants, budgets and compliance work, much less in conjunction with the personal, developmental and pedagogical requirements of student populations with special needs.


Think it’s hard to spark or manage change in your organization? Christine sheds light on the challenges and the victories of what it takes to innovate and lead change in an organization that is over 200 years old!


Some terrific insights she shares in our conversation for greater positive influence over different stakeholder groups include:


  • How she uses visuals such as a graphic one-pager for people to reference when she was trying to explain something
  • How to use a “discovery” conversation to navigate challenging situations such as accountability issues in order to collaboratively find a way to improve the process
  • Challenges faced when well-intended board members from the corporate world expect an educational non-profit to follow corporate behaviors
  • The importance of being passionately “mission driven and committed to creating a better tomorrow”, and
  • What dragon boat racing (yes, “dragon boats”) has taught her about teamwork


And more!


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on YouTube here.



Oh – and before I forget – happy Valentine’s Day!


As my little gift of love to all of you, just for fun, check out this (gratuitously cute) video of all sorts of animals being reunited with their owners — if that kind of love doesn't put a smile on your face today, nothing will!

What do Passion and Suffering have in Common?

I love when I get to “geek out” on you for a second, so here’s one for your “wow, I never would have guessed that but it makes sense” files:


Q: What do passion and suffering have in common?

A: They are actually synonyms, sharing the same (etymological) root:


  • “Passion” is from the Latin pati – meaning ‘to endure’ – 1,000 years ago
  • It came to mean suffering, pain, and even martyrdom in the 13th century.
  • It also is the root of the Greek pathos – “feeling, emotion or suffering” (yes, the same pathos in the ethos-logos-pathos triangle of persuasion and rhetoric, in case that rang a bell)
  • The more romantic/intimate sense of “passion” came about in the late 1500s
  • And our current sense of “I’m passionate about (Topic X)”, related to hobbies, careers and the like finally rolled around in the 1600-1700s.


Yet when you think about it, they’re still connected deep down.


Beyond lip service and something that looks good on a LinkedIn profile summary, if you’re truly passionate about something, there’s a deep yearning for it; an ache.


For me, a few things I’m passionate about, in different ways, include public speaking, coaching, children/families and helping children in the foster care system get adopted, and cooking/hosting big family gatherings.


The joy I feel with each of those definitely has an “ache” of some sort at the root.


  • I want my clients and audiences to have a powerful experience – my joy is dependent upon knowing I have helped them find theirs.
  • It breaks my heart to know so many children lack the safety and security of unconditional love in a permanent family (Special thanks to The O’Connor Group for selecting The Adoption Center as winner for their generous $2,500 donation!)
  • The amount of time, planning and energy I put into preparing holiday dinners is absolutely influenced by wanting to share the power of an incredible culinary experience that people both look forward to and remember.


How about you? Maybe you’re passionate about:


  • Diversity, equity, access and inclusion
  • The environment
  • Access to healthcare or justice
  • Helping people get out of debt and plan for their future
  • Mentoring
  • Animals
  • Children and families


When you think about what drives you to dedicate your professional or personal efforts to that issue, isn’t it because something about the idea of people NOT having it actually hurts deep down?


The need to help others, even in the most difficult circumstances, is a beautiful driving force deep down in each of us.


That’s why I’m honored that my guest on this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence is retired FDNY Battalion Chief John LaBarbera of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.


John’s opening comment wins the award for the understatement of the year: “There is no better feeling than to make a difference in someone's life.”


All positive differences matter, but the differences the Foundation makes are utterly life changing:


  • Paying off mortgages for surviving families with young children of first responders and military service people who were killed in the line of duty
  • Building “smart homes” for veterans catastrophically wounded in battle (e.g. imagine what life would be like if you were wheelchair bound having lost three – or more – limbs)
  • Ending veteran homelessness in the US (did you know that 1:3 homeless people in most major cities is a veteran?!)


And who deserves it more than those whose passion to serve and protect led to such incomparable and selfless sacrifice?


In our conversation, John shares his insights on communication necessities in contexts that are literally life-and-death, as well as those that aren’t but may feel like it in the moment. For example he revealed:


  • How an unchecked assumption almost led to the death of multiple crewmembers
  • His best tactic to overcome challenges with non-responsive audiences
  • How to turn that conversation around and win your audience over
  • The critical value of an “after-action” report, often referred to as a debriefing, or (metaphorically) a “post-mortem”


and more. Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here .



FYI, the Foundation was started in the memory of Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter who ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on 9/11 with 60 Lbs of gear on his back from Brooklyn to the Twin Towers in Manhattan (hence Tunnel to Towers) to save others before ultimately losing his own life that day.


If nothing else, I hope you’ll be inspired by one of Stephen’s favorite quotes by Saint Francis of Assisi: “While we have time, let us do good.”


Where will your passion lead you to do more good in the world?

Was That Supposed to be Funny?

The emcee of the dinner social event warned me ahead of time:

“It’s 300 partners from the law firm, and you should just know that at this event every year they often just keep talking to                                     people at their tables while the speaker is on stage. Don’t take it personally if they don’t pay attention to you.”

Don’t take it personally?

Heck, forget personally – I took it as a challenge.

A few people opened with introductory remarks, during which some attendees were indeed still engaged in side conversations while others went to the bar in the back for a beverage.

Then it was my turn.

I walked on stage as the partner emceeing the event introduced me, and handed me the mic.

I thanked him and the team who had invited me, greeted the audience, and then transitioned with one of my favorite opening lines in that kind of event:

“Has everyone had at least one drink so far? If not, please feel free to go to the bar back there to grab one now, and refill it                                      as often as you like while I’m up here, because the more you drink, the funnier and better looking I get!”


On cue, the room broke into laughter. I had their attention.

And I kept it throughout my keynote, which was NOT a standup comedy routine.

Like all my talks, it was serious content about leadership communication, including case study sample data ranging from presidential debate performances to family dynamics and more.

Like all my talks, it was serious content about leadership communication, including case study sample data ranging from presidential debate performances to family dynamics and more.

Most importantly, that opening line, along with a few other tongue-in-cheek “cue laughter here” comments sprinkled throughout the program, subconsciously helped them focus on the rest of my content, which enhanced my executive presence and strengthened their respect for me as a thought leader in my field.

That’s because:

  • The content of the humor was appropriate for the context of the event
  • It was playful in a way that showed I take my content seriously, but I don’t take myself too seriously
  • Their brains get wired to associate me with the “happy dopamine shot,” which means they like me more, and people tend to trust others they like
  • I delivered the humorous lines in a declarative, matter-of-fact tone paired with a smile, which conveyed that I owned my comments, which demonstrated my confidence – both in myself and in my material
  • That visible self-confidence inspired the audience to instinctively trust me
  • I didn’t linger in the humor; the little “sidebar” comments were inserted here and there for a quick little dopamine shot to the brain, which “greased the mental skids” and opened their listening, and then without skipping a beat, I continued on with the real content.

The best part was that when I was done and came down off the stage, the partner/emcee came up to me and said, “That was amazing! They all actually paid attention the whole time! I don’t think that’s ever happened before!”

Now in fairness, I think it had a lot more to do with the whole talk – both content and delivery – but the humorous bits definitely sealed the deal.

I get so frustrated when I hear people – both men and women – steer away from the use of any humor for fear that it will undermine their authority.

“Gravitas” does not necessarily mean “grave” or “serious,” although it certainly can if the topic at issue is a particularly heavy one.

As a matter of fact, you could argue that there was a variety of gravitas in how I delivered that line: confidently, declaratively, intentionally.

Content-wise, when timed appropriately, people will find something humorous when the topic is about an inherently human, universally-shared experience.

For example, sometimes I’ll open an “elevator pitch” at a networking event with something like,

“Did you ever have a moment when you’re talking and you suddenly think to yourself, ‘That sounded better in my head!’?                                       Well, I fix that.”

No, it doesn’t typically elicit guffaws. And yes, it’s an incredibly vague generalization of my work. But it’s a reference that inevitably makes everyone nod enthusiastically and laugh together, as if I’ve seen into their souls, because everyone knows that awful feeling, and it evokes the one response we all want to hear after our elevator pitch:

“Tell me more – how do you do that?”

Then we can get more serious about the nature of the work that I do.

And that’s exactly why on this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence , I broke down the common myth that using humor undermines your authority and executive presence, and showed how it can actually boost your leadership presence.

Listen to the full podcast episode here or watch it on YouTube here.



It’s a short episode, but jam packed with food for thought (and fun!) about how to let your fun-energy part of your personality shine through while enhancing your own leadership image and reputation.

And that’s no joke!

How to Combat the Fear of Uncertainty at Work

It almost sounds like the opening of a cliché movie:

An asteroid is on its way hurtling toward earth, and everyone is panicking that it could be the apocalypse, destroying the planet or at
least life as we know it.

That is, unless Bruce Willis, Jackie Chan or Viola Davis manages to blow up the asteroid or at least knock it off course at the eleventh

Of course, in the midst of the growing mayhem, our hero/heroine gives an inspirational speech, acknowledging people’s fear,                              reassuring them that the expert team is doing everything possible to ward off the danger, and kindling renewed confidence that our                  protagonist will put the welfare of the people first, and save the day.

(Kinda like how Bill Pullman’s speech in Independence Day might have sounded if Bill Pullman had even an ounce of charisma.)


Except it’s not Hollywood. It’s the news. It’s the daily announcements of more unprecedented layoffs in bedrock companies like Amazon, Salesforce, Goldman Sachs, heck even McDonalds, coupled with double-digit inflation and eggs at $5/dozen.


Oh yeah, and the hero isn't Bruce, Jackie or Viola… it’s YOU.


The people panicking and turning to you for answers, solutions and reassurance are your clients, your employees, your direct and indirect reports, your investors and partners. They all want to know what’s going to happen to:


  • their job
  • their investments
  • their order and timeline
  • that bonus they depend on every year
  • Their workload (with no increased pay) if they have to pick up the slack if more teammates gets laid off


What if, what if, what if…


Now it’s up to you to figure out just the right thing to say, in just the right way, to instill confidence amidst the uncertainty, help everyone stay calm and keep them from fleeing in panic.


That’s exactly what we address this week on another special two-part episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast.


After the overwhelming response we got recently when we addressed this topic on LinkedIn Live, we decided we needed to share it with everyone else.


In this episode we get super-specific about the do’s and don’ts around having these mission-critical, emotionally charged, and heavily consequential conversations.


In order to successfully inspire confidence in your people, dedication in your team, and trust in you, tune in to hear:


What questions you need to ask yourself in advance


  • How to keep yourself from rambling and babbling
  • Vocal pitfalls to avoid
  • What your body language must – and must not – say, whether virtually or in person
  • How you need to START AND END the discussion
  • How to practice, and why you should, before you start the conversation


Listen to Part 1 of the full conversation here. Tomorrow we’ll send the link for Part 2. (Of course, if you subscribe to the podcast, you’ll get part 2 automatically delivered right to your phone, so you won’t miss a thing!)


It’s really hard to brace for a storm when you don't know when and if it’s going to hit, or how hard.


But with the right leader’s voice and message, you and your team can stay strong and weather the journey together until the sun comes out again.

Do Your Words Create a Legacy?

We all want to make an impact in life, but I realized recently that setting our goals permanently at “make an impact” is simply setting the bar too low.


An impact can be momentary; but a legacy, in contrast, is timeless.


And one of the primary factors that determines the nature and reach of that legacy is how well we communicate our vision to others. How well we captivate their attention, trigger new thoughts and feelings, and inspire action.


This week we honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest orators in recorded history.


In 1967 Dr. King spoke to the students at Barrett Junior High School in Philadelphia, and the theme of his address that day focused on one core question:


                “What is in your life’s blueprint?”


He went on to explain to them that just as an architect will draw a blueprint as the necessary guide for a well-constructed building, the quality of our lives – and legacies – would equally be determined by whether or not we had designed “a proper, a solid and sound blueprint.”


Similarly, as I see it, the quality and degree of impact you create through anything you say, speech you deliver, conversation you have, or presentation you give will also be determined by the quality of the “blueprint” you designed for it in advance.


So I ask you:


When you need to convey your vision to someone, what’s in your communication blueprint?


Whether you had the opportunity to hear him speak live back in the 1960s or only via archived videos decades later, there is something about the words Dr. King chose and the manner in which he delivered them with each and every letter, sermon and speech, that always seemed to hit you squarely between the eyes as they landed, and stick with you for days, months, and years afterward.


What was it about his oratory style that made the power of his words so timeless?


That’s exactly what we explore on this week’s Speaking to Influence podcast.


In this unique 2-part episode, Nikelle King, Strategic Growth Leader with Google Cloud and Rachael Jones, CEO and co-founder of Syntax, join me to dive into the strategies, tactics, tools and patterns in Dr. King’s most compelling speeches.



The best part? It’s that each and every one of his success measures are attainable for each and every one of us, every single day, both in personal and professional communication.


That’s when our words begin to shape our own legacy.


Listen to the Part 1 of the conversation (episode 139) here or watch the video on YouTube here. The second half of the conversation will be released tomorrow, so be sure to subscribe or bookmark the podcast link now so you are notified when it becomes available. (Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!)


Once you’re full of that inspiration, do you need a chance to start putting it all into practice?


Well in case you missed Friday’s Linkedin Live, How to Instill Confidence In Uncertain Times, you can still watch the replay here.



Given the uncertain economic and social times in which we live, everyone from your employees and direct reports to bosses, investors, clients and even family members need to hear a voice of reassurance… and that voice is YOURS.


Check out this breakdown of the fundamental principles of speaking with confidence and empathy in order to inspire that confidence in others.


Your legacy is calling.

Are You Penny-Wise but Pound-Foolish When You Talk?

If I looked up the idiom “Bull in a china shop,” it would not have surprised me if I saw Claudia’s face staring back at me.


Claudia had been raised to be a fighter, whether in school, sports, family dynamics, or otherwise, and it definitely carried over into her work.


Her management style was a combination of “get it right the first time,” “I’m your boss, not your babysitter,” and “it’s far more important to be clear and direct than to be nice.”


If you predicted that corporate leadership brought me in to work with her on diplomacy skills, you’d be right.


“I’m busy!” she protested. “Everyone is so sensitive. I don’t mince words, I just call it like it is. I don’t have time to beat around the                      bush with people and be all nicey-nicey.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I prefaced. “Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you                 have time to do it over’?”


She slumped back in her chair, as if a bit deflated. “No,” she said, “but I get it.”


“It’s not about flipping a coin between being clear or being nice. Sometimes just taking the time to think about the best way to convey a message will save far more time later when you don’t have to go back and make corrections or smooth ruffled feathers.”


Not taking the time to make conscious, careful choices when preparing message content, mode, and delivery style is the speech equivalent of being “penny-wise but pound foolish”.


That's a major theme this week on multiple levels!


In this week’s Speaking to Influence episode, Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian, shared how it once took him three tries before he learned this lesson.


He described how he wanted to discuss giving an outstanding employee a promotion and a raise, and tried to bring it up at two different meetings. But since that issue was not on the agenda for either meeting, he rushed the point through at the end and was dismissed with a “no” both times.


The third time he got it right. He spent two hours on a Saturday thinking about how to frame his proposal and writing up the background to send to the leadership team in advance of the next meeting. He also got the issue added to the agenda.


In no time flat, he got the “yes” he was looking for.



Sometimes we forget that what's a “no-brainer” to us is, well, a “brainer” for others. We can’t simply assume that because of our role, title, or reputation, people will just agree.


(Did you miss that conversation about mistakenly wishing for “rubber-stamp approval” in Kelley Morse’s episode last week? If so, check it out here.)


Tune in to hear more great insights from Geoff regarding:


  • What he learned from a phone call with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg(!)
  • How he has learned how to adjust and adapt from a company of one to more than 350 employees with sustained growth
  • The power of a hand-written note for both appreciation and apologies
  • How to make every client feel as important as a Supreme Court Justice


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


And speaking of the importance of taking the time to frame and deliver a message carefully, join me this week on Linkedin Live to explore “How to Instill Confidence in Uncertain Times” on Friday, January 13, 2023 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00PM EST.


With mega-companies like Salesforce, Amazon and McDonalds announcing or projecting layoffs, the potential ripple effect of instability leading to panic leading to crisis on micro and macro levels has never been more real.


Need to instill trust, calm and stability in your people? RSVP for the event here.


Do You Just Want Me to Rubber-Stamp This?

Q: What is a camel?

A: A horse designed by committee.


(Okay, there’s your first groaner of the new year!)


There’s nothing more frustrating than when something seems like it should be an easy decision or process only to be derailed by having to get so many people’s input that the process is painstaking, and the final product has so many compromises that nobody is truly happy with the result.


How often do we wish we could simply submit our own plan for a perfunctory “rubber stamp” of approval and be done with it?


At the same time, how often do our plans come to a screeching halt because we forget to get other stakeholders’ input on key decisions first?


The last thing we want to hear is a boss, key client, investor, partner or other collaborator asking, “Are you hearing me or do you want me to just rubber stamp this?”


Yet that’s the exact experience Kelley Morse, Senior Vice-President of Human Resources at Bullhorn, describes on this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast.


Kelley walks us through her thought process and the steps she took to course-correct both that conversation and its long-term effects on the relationship.



Kelley also gave great examples of why and how to meet other people where they are in terms of need and knowledge, and how she adapts her communication style to accommodate those differences in a way that still allows her to get her message across.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


I almost forgot – Happy new year! (Anyone want to take “over-under” bets on how long it takes before I stop writing 2022 as the date?)


In case you were on vacation last week and missed it, if you’re looking for a great way to jump-start the new year with some smile-inducing quick wins, be sure to check out last week’s episode as well: it’s our annual “Best of the 24-Hour Influence Challenges” 2022 review.


In just a few minutes, you’ll be inspired by nine guests’ ideas for easy action steps, any of which can be completed in just a few minutes apiece, to kick off the new year with a boost to your powers of influence!


At the same time, I also understand that for many of us, the joys of unplugging for some much-needed personal time off over the holidays are often met with an overactive reality check upon heading back to work this week.


The world is full of questions, from personal health and finances, to the global economy and beyond. Yet as leaders, it’s important to be a voice of reassurance to those around us.


That’s why I’m inviting you to join me on Linkedin Live on January 13, 2022, from 12:00 PM to 12:45 PM when I’ll share essential tips for “How to Instill Confidence in Uncertain Times.” Register for the event here.



We’ll dig into specifics regarding your message content (what to say as well as what NOT to say) and your delivery (how you say it – voice, body language, and platform).


And if you think you don’t have time to think through and plan for all those little details, remember this: what you successfully communicate is whatever the other person hears, regardless of what you intended to convey.


The more effort you put into preparing for those key conversations, the smaller the potential gap between what you think you say and what they think they hear!


Don’t just “rubber stamp” these important discussions with your stakeholders. Join me for this first LinkedIn Live conversation of 2023 to start off the new year by helping ensure your people have confidence in themselves and in YOU.

What NOT to Do with Smart People

I don’t know about you, but I often find that the best advice is not only crystal clear and simple… but frustratingly hard to implement despite its simplicity.


For example, Steve Jobs wisely declared:


“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”


Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Why would anyone do otherwise?


Clear and simple, with one small challenge: Letting others make the big decisions (and sometimes even the small ones) requires two things:


  1. Trust
  2. Willingness to let go


Anyone out there have some latent (or not-so-latent) “control-freak” (i.e. perfectionist) tendencies? We all have them in some aspect of our lives, and we are addicted.


Letting go is hard.


But for there to be any possibility of letting go, mutual trust is a prerequisite.


Particularly in today’s virtual/hybrid world, when we only know each other as names in black squares or at best as floating heads in a virtual meeting, it can be even harder to develop that sense of true trust in others, both as competent professionals and even as people overall.


But what can be done to develop that trust, and even then, how do we let go?


This was one of the many themes of this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast.


Peter Joniec, co-founder and President of the Jonus Group, a staffing firm specializing in the insurance industry, shared his own journey on the path to letting go and learning to trust in his people.


It’s always hard to transfer the proverbial reins to someone else, especially when we’ve been doing the task for a long time and can do it extremely well, knowing that the other person will inevitably require a bit of a learning curve, and that may mean potentially substandard performance or production for a while.


Hint: There’s a very fine line between when you should and should NOT use the phrase “When I did this job…”


SHOULD: During instruction, especially if someone is struggling, e.g. “When I did this job at first, it was frustrating because… but I discovered it’s much easier if…”


SHOULD NOT: When repeated regularly, which sounds like haranguing and a constant reminder that you think you’re better than they are.


Those of us who are business owners feel that twinge even more strongly when we hire employees for our companies. It’s our money, our reputation, our customer relationships and more that is on the line, and the buck stops with us.


And as Pete described, that can be terrifying.


But since then, he has learned to put structures into place within his company to set up new employees for success, both personally and professionally.


One of the first stepping stones on that path is making key introductions to help them cultivate relationships with key partners, collaborators, and other stakeholders and resources from Day-1.


After all, don’t we perform better when there is a whole pool of resources out there to lean on from time to time?


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.

Is it Just the Illusion of Being Heard?

One experience that always makes me question my own sanity is when I come out of a meeting or conversation (whether with colleagues, friends, family, whoever) thinking we’re all on the same page regarding next steps, and a conversation like the following ensues:

Me: Hey (Jordan), do you have document X?

Jordan: What document X?

Me: The one we talked about last week. I told you I need it for Y. I asked if you could have it ready for me today, and you said you

Jordan: Oh, you mean you wanted me to do that? I didn’t realize that’s what you wanted.

(Or better yet–)

Jordan: Sorry, but I don’t remember talking about/agreeing to that.

Ah yes, watch my head spin…

This week I discovered that there’s a great term for that phenomenon.

Marc Brownstein, president and CEO of the Brownstein Group, a parent company including Brownstein Advertising, Red Thread, Public Relations and Nucleus Digital, a digital marketing agency, refers to that as “the illusion of thinking you’ve been heard.”

This week on Speaking to Influence podcast, Marc shared all sorts of wisdom regarding how to get your message across, as only a marketing expert could.

You may be familiar with the “marketing rule of 7,” i.e. that people need to be exposed to a product or service at least seven times before they feel like they are likely to purchase it.

Marc contends that nowadays it’s even harder to get your message (of ANY sort) heard with the perpetual inundation of social media messages, email, text messages and every app under the sun competing for everyone's attention.

No wonder we have the ILLUSION of being heard. We may have repeated ourselves or attempted to confirm understanding to the point where we think, “they MUST have heard me by now!” and yet… it still wasn't enough.

It's part of what creates the gap between “What you think you say” and “What they think they hear.” No one understands that better than marketers.

Marc also shared tips on:

  • How to decide when people need to come to the office vs. when to hold a meeting virtually
  • What he does if he doesn’t have an idea he really believes in
  • How not to have any favorites when leading a team
  • Holding everyone accountable
  • How to break past the illusion of being heard and
  • How YOU can assure your team and your clients that you are truly listening to them.

Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here.

Congratulations to Rachael Jones, founder of Syntax and last week’s podcast guest – her Speaking to Influence episode jumped right up to #151 in management podcasts on iTunes/Apple Podcasts! In case you missed it the first time, catch our fun conversation here.