How Many Changes is TOO Many?

Imagine a conversation with your point person just a day or two before one of the biggest presentations of your life. As part of their last-minute notes, they share some details about who would be in your audience, and how you’d be required to accommodate them:


  • A large percentage of your audience would be visually impaired… so you’d have to orally describe 100% of whatever was on your screen so they didn’t miss anything.
  • Another large number of people would be hearing impaired and there would be NO sign language interpreter, so anything you planned to say would have to be scripted out, in its entirety, on your slides, from which you would need to read verbatim; no ad libbing allowed
  • There would also be a large number of people logging in remotely, along with a full house in-person
  • … oh, and I forgot to mention that this was nearly 20 years ago, loooong before video conferencing and the whole “hybrid” concept was part of almost anyone’s reality.


(Did you have to read that twice to confirm what you read?)


Now, I’ve always been a pretty confident and competent presenter, but if I’m being honest, this scenario would stir up some major feelings of dread.


Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happened to Chris Hare, CEO of PRTI. On this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence , he’ll share how he handled that curve-ball arsenal when he was slated to speak – where else? – to the Disability Rights Office of the Federal Communications Commission.



Right from the start, it was clear to me that Chris is a leader who not only doesn’t shy away from big challenges, he seeks them out and tackles them head-on.


For example, his company, PRTI, is built on finding a solution to a problem that has been a major issue for nearly 200 years: What to do with old tires (which, in case you’re wondering, are not known for quick or environmentally friendly decomposition.) Can we say “up-hill battle”?


Even communicating with shareholders, in Chris’s world, is not a singular challenge. His shareholders run the gamut from people who invested in PRTI from its inception and know its actions backward and forward, to those who only bought shares in recent months. There are novice investors driven by environmental motivations, and those who are extremely market-savvy but may have little interest in knowing the science behind PRTI’s ‘secret sauce.’


How can you meet all of their needs at the same time?


For starters, there is one unwavering, guiding principle Chris referenced multiple times: The importance of communicating consistently, thoughtfully, and truthfully with all shareholders.


For more insights, listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


You don’t need to make all the changes he addresses, but the power is in realizing the impact each change can have on your relationships and overall legacy.

Are You Competing with Others or with Yourself?

When my son Thomas was in middle and high school, one of our favorite programs to watch together was “American Ninja Warrior,” (ANW).


Think of the world’s craziest carnival-style obstacle course, where contestants take turns watching each other try to get to the end of each run and hit the buzzer, or more commonly fall into the pool of water below despite best efforts, in hopes of someday getting to the legendary Mount Midoriyama and the million-dollar prize.


What I loved best about the show was that unlike other competitive “reality shows” with their villains, sabotage and melodrama, on ANW, the contestants rooted for each other, hoping to see what was possible and what they could learn from each other, forming friendships along the way.


And as they came back season after season, their main shared goal was the same: to get further this season than they did last time.


Although they were technically each other’s competition, each contestant was mainly competing against him- or herself.


We all have our own versions of “Mount Midoriyama” we need to climb, where we would be 100x better off if we strove to be the best version of ourselves, instead of trying to be like someone else. It could be


  • Presenting more confidently at the next quarterly meeting
  • Eating better in order to drop our blood pressure or cholesterol, and increase our energy
  • Being more patient with others instead of losing our temper when we get frustrated
  • Taking 5 minutes at the start of the day to commit to the one main thing we absolutely must get done; or
  • Remembering to thank people for little things, even if you think it shouldn’t be necessary, simply because an ounce of acknowledgement is often worth its weight in gold.


Going even deeper into the theme of challenging ourselves to achieve personal bests and climbing Mount Midoriyama both figuratively and literally, my guest this week on the Speaking to Influence podcast is Matt Iseman, cohost of American Ninja Warrior.



Matt shared lessons he has learned from a whopping 16 seasons of hosting ANW, and how they all focus around being our personal best, leading and communicating with others and ourselves alike.


Side note – just in case you think Matt’s life lessons are only from watching others, you might be surprised to know he has overcome a number of obstacles of his own:

  • He’s a board-certified physician
  • He left his medical career to become a (successful!) stand-up comedian
  • He survived cancer, and
  • He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, addressing the very topics he’ll be sharing with us in this episode!


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

What if everyone thinks you’re wrong?

It may sound weird, but I can’t listen to Maroon 5’s “This Love” without suddenly getting a craving for papas bravas, Spain’s answer to french fries as a go-to bar snack.

In the summer of 2004 I had the opportunity to present some research at a conference in Lleida, Spain. Taking advantage of the opportunity, after the conference I met up with some friends in Barcelona to enjoy a well-deserved vacation.

One evening we were in a bar enjoying a glass of rioja and snacking on papas bravas when “This Love” started to come through the speakers. Before we knew it, we were all belting it at the top of our lungs and dancing, Spaniards, Americans, and whoever else was there, together.

It was a perfect memory of pure fun, friendship and happiness. Even now, nearly twenty years later, every time that song pops up on the radio, I’m instantly transported back there.

That’s one thing I love about radio – you never know what song will pop up next. But nowadays there’s a lot of speculation and conjecture that radio is “dead,” due to all the streaming services out there.

That’s why the challenge for Dave Scopinich, Vice President of Audacy, with more than 230 radio stations across the country, is: How do you convince people to invest in your product or idea when popular discourse and the rumor mill have already erroneously convinced them otherwise?



On this week's Speaking to Influence, Dave shared some of his best strategies and techniques he and his team use to help prospective clients (in his case, advertisers) understand how – contrary to all the rumors – he can actually help them reach over 200 million consumers each week.

Two of the most powerful tools are data and framing.

For starters, to debunk the myth about radio being dead, he shares data: Nielsen data shows that radio still reaches nearly 90% of all Americans on a daily basis.

Framing then puts it into perspective. For example, when speaking to someone in the Philadelphia market, he paints them a picture:

Imagine that you are in the stands of a sold-out Phillies game against the divisional rival, the New York Mets, at Citizens Bank
Park. There are 45,000+ people in the stands and they get to hear your message.

It's powerful isn't it?

Listen to the full conversation on Apple here – or Audacy here! – or watch it on YouTube here.

Once you’ve had a chance to digest Dave’s take on how to win over stakeholder confidence, tune in for a live discussion on the issue:



This Friday, March 17,2023, join me on Linkedin Live with Damon D’Amore to discuss Winning Stakeholder Confidence in Times of Crisis from 1-2pm ET.

Damon will reveal the three pillars of crisis leadership and how they must be communicated in order to secure personal and organizational competitive advantages. Register here.

How to Be Clear on What You Want

Only once did I ever meaningfully predict the future.

In college I took an American politics class, and that semester also happened to be a presidential election, so a major assignment was to pick a state, use the various systems and formulas we learned about, and try to determine what percentage of the vote each candidate would get in that state.

Our grade depended on how close we got, and how good our two-page explanation was regarding how we derived our answer… which we had to submit almost a full week before the election itself.

The morning after the election I opened the Washington Post to the state-by-state results and scanned down the page looking for New Jersey.

There it was, in the Post, just as it was in my paper:

  • Bill Clinton – 43%
  • George Bush – 41%
  • Ross Perot – 16%

My eyes did not deceive me – I had pulled off a miracle!

In class the next day, the professor handed back our papers one by one. When I got mine, there was a great big “A+” and a single comment:

“Are you going to go into the election business or just play the lottery?”

(I did take the idea to heart, and bought a lottery ticket that afternoon. But apparently I had already used up my one “free miracle” ticket for the day.)

But there are other times nowadays when I’m also pretty confident in my ability to predict the future. For example, I always know how it’s going to end whenever I hear someone say one of the following:

  • “They made their offer so I already know what they are and aren’t willing to give me.”
  • “I’ve dropped enough hints; it should be obvious to anyone paying attention.”
  • “I don’t want to come across as rude or demanding.”
  • “She/he should know me well enough by now to know what I need/like.”

Unsurprisingly, the result is always the same: That person is about to be very disappointed.

No matter how justified they think they are in their assertions and choices, they are playing the “mind reading game,” expecting others to know what they want, or believing they know what others want.

Either way, the one thing they did NOT do was clearly state their desire, request, need, or even question outright. And that’s just asking for failure.

That’s why one major theme of this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence podcast is how to be clear on what you need and want, in order to get the best results possible, and help others be the best they can be.

My guest is Christine Proffitt, Executive Vice President of Sales for Integrity Staffing Solutions, a company that optimizes the workforce for mid-sized through Fortune 100 companies, particularly in the online retail space.



Christine was crystal-clear about the fact that whether you are the person who is seeking the new job, the business owner doing the hiring, or any other stakeholder group, there’s one way to get what you want:

You have to be clear on your own needs and preferences first, and be prepared to clearly and succinctly state what they are. Nobody is going to read your mind, and if you aren’t clear on them and able to articulate them to others, how can you expect anyone else to figure them out?

Some other terrific tips Christine shared in the episode are:

  • The six-step process she follows when she’s preparing a pitch or presentation for her CEO and other senior executives
  • Her four-step “D.A.S.H.” process for having an accountability conversation with an employee
  • How she works with her leadership team to manage a 60% annual growth target in today’s crazy economy

And more.

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

It can be hard to advocate for yourself effectively, to frame your argument clearly and deliver it in a way that is persuasive, compelling, and inspiring. So I’m excited to give you a sneak peek into a new, upcoming opportunity to help you do exactly that.

The simple truth is that I’m getting more requests for private coaching than my calendar can handle, and I always want to serve as many people as possible, so I’m sharing with you an opportunity to take advantage of something I almost never offer:

Starting in July, I’ll be leading a “Speaking to Influence” small group coaching program including:

  • Maximum 10 participants
  • Monthly live group coaching workshops via Zoom
  • Expert guest speakers
  • Monthly live Q&A sessions
  • A chance to work through the entire Speaking to Influence curriculum with performance feedback (Have you read the book yet? You’ll get a free bonus copy with membership)
  • Free access to the entire “Virtual Influence” online program to ensure you look, sound and feel as confident and professional on screen as you are in person
  • An accountability partner and private WhatsApp group to build community and momentum
  • Personalized bonus videos and exclusive content
  • Year-long program, starting July 2023
  • And more!

Registration will open in April, so stay tuned – there are only 10 spaces, so once they’re full, that’s it!

Feel free to email me with questions about the program for now – and remember, if there’s something you want to know or share, be clear in making the ask. It’s the only way to get what you want!

Don’t forget to register for the next LinkedIn Live with Damon D’Amore, “Winning Stakeholder Confidence in Times of Crisis” on Friday 3/17. In this session, Damon will reveal the three pillars of crisis leadership and how they must be communicated in order to secure personal and organizational competitive advantages in today’s global business landscape.


Want Them to Do Your Homework For You?

I have a confession to make.

In high school I hated English class. (The irony! I know.) I had a mental block against being forced to read a bunch of boring old books somebody decided I needed to read simply because they were part of a “canon.”

Finding out that Charles Dickens got paid by the word just added fuel to my fire: he got paid extra just to torture me by writing his stories in twice as many words as I thought should have been necessary to get the point across. Who had time to read all that?

Cliff’s Notes™ and I were extremely well acquainted.

I wished every textbook had a similar condensed version, or at least that I could pay someone to read the books for me and just tell me what they were about, without, you know, failing the class or getting expelled.

Well, old habits die hard.

The difference is that now my reading list is full of non-fiction books I genuinely WANT to read.

But it seems like for every book I get through, six more pop up in its place. It’s impossible to keep up.

If any of this is ringing a bell for you, I have good news: there’s hope!

I want to share three tools I absolutely love that help me plow through books and other resources in record time. (And no, I don’t have any affiliation with any of them.)




Blinkist is an app that summarizes books – both fiction and nonfiction – in around 15 minutes. The summaries are available in text and in audio format, both of which are referred to as “Blinks.”

I just finished “blinking” my way through Who Not How, and I’m looking forward to finally diving into Atomic Habits, which has been on my recommended list for years.


2. The 1440


What Blinkist is for books, “The 1440” is for news, but better. It’s a daily newsletter that comes to your inbox, not an app, but it curates news headlines on everything from current events and world affairs to arts and culture, sports, and all sorts of miscellany with one powerful differentiator:




The language is as “plain vanilla” as possible: no interpretation, no efforts to sway, no drama(!), nada. Just links to read up on the subject if you want more than the birds-eye view they provide.

In 5 minutes every day you can stay up to date on what happened… and that’s it.

And a bonus is that at the end there are lots of fun links (yes, a news outlet that actually shares HAPPY topics too) to things like winners of photography contests and this recent list of “popular songs that never won a Grammy.” (See how many times you say, “Oh, I loved that song!”)


3. Audible


Audible is the modern equivalent of “books on tape”… without the tape. Just about any book you can buy in hard copy on Amazon is available in audio format on Audible, and you can shift between listening on your phone, laptop, tablet, etc. all with the same account. You can even get great books like this.

It matters because with audiobooks, I can multitask. (Like I said – who has that kind of time to sit down and just read?)

And often I still want to “skim” through a book, which I can still do with Audible because I can adjust the listening/playback speed.

Somewhere between 1.2x and 1.5x is my typical “happy place.”

(Remember: I’m a Jersey Italian, so I probably speak around 1.2 or 1.5x faster than most people anyway, so audiobooks sound totally normal to me at that pace!)

Then again, if I’m listening to something in Spanish, I may want to slow it down to 0.8x speed just to make sure I’m catching everything, as my listening skills in Spanish aren’t as good as in English.


Oh – and the voice quality doesn’t change if you adjust the speed: no “chipmunks” narrating Good To Great for you!


Just think: a decade (or…two…?) after high school, we’re finally allowed to let someone else do our reading homework for us, and we still get all the benefits! Gotta love it.


Happy skimming!

Have You Accepted that YOU Are The Brand?

Today I have a gift for you: It’s my favorite sound in the entire world HERE


Did you listen? Did you smile in spite of yourself?


 That recording was of my son on his first birthday, almost five years ago. I don’t remember what we were doing that had him belly-laughing like that, but frankly it doesn’t matter. 


I don’t care who you are or what mood you’re in, the sound of a child’s laugh can melt even the iciest of hearts. Forget aroma therapy, this is audio catharsis.


We are currently celebrating the overlapping seasons of Easter, Passover and Ramadan – seasons of renewal, of new hope, and new beginnings this spring. That sound of a baby’s laugh (or ANYONE’s laughter) reinforces that feeling of renewal and hope.


The other side of the coin, however, is just as powerful. Few things create the feeling of despair and hopelessness experienced by children (and the heartbreak experienced by their parents) when the children are struggling with speech, sensory processing disorders, attention deficit/executive functioning, autism and other learning differences, all of which can create and be created by trauma, and can prevent them (all) from freely experiencing the regular joys and fulfillment of daily life.


Enter Maude Le Roux, occupational therapist, founder of A Total Approach and the Maude Le Roux Academy, and this week’s Speaking to Influence podcast guest.


Maude and her cadre of therapists and other service providers give hope and new beginnings to children and their families through her advocacy, development and occupational therapy programs at A Total Approach.


Moreover, through her eponymous Maude Le Roux Academy, she provides training and continuing education for occupational therapists and related professions in pediatric care around the world to ensure an ever greater number of children get the chance at new beginnings and a life of fulfillment.



She shared how she, too, loves hearing children’s belly laughs when she walks down the hallways of her center. Beyond the inherent beauty of the sound, when she hears it coming from her clients, in her hallways, she knows it’s the sound of success: she’s making a positive impact on their lives.


Nevertheless, despite her success, Maude also revealed how difficult it was for her to name The Maude Le Roux Academy after herself without fearing that she was “being egotistical.”


She founded the academy because she had created assessments and intervention programs that were unique and effective, and word spread. When other professionals in her field from around the world wanted to learn more about what she was doing, they googled her name as the primary search term.


The simple fact was that she was the brand.


She came to realize that if she wanted to have the widest reach possible, to help as many children and families as possible, she had to be as discoverable as possible. Ultimately, she made the smart, objective business decision – not the subjective emotional one – and named her academy after herself.


The biggest revelation: she had to learn to put aside her fear of ego and own her achievement.


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


It's a funny thing — fear of ego. In other words, the fear that if you truly own and claim your success, it will be seen as bragging.


Worse, that concern can lead to imposter syndrome, and the fear that someone else might look at you and say, “Who do you think you are? You're not so great. As a matter of fact, you're a fraud!”


This can be a particularly sensitive issue for those of us who are independent business owners and service providers. I know I'm constantly navigating the mental tightrope walk, because for marketing purposes, I have to promote the business (which is my programs and intellectual property, developed from my skill, knowledge and experience), without sounding like I'm “self-promoting.” Clients want to work with me, specifically.


In other words – I'm the brand.


What about you? Maybe you're an entrepreneur like I am, and you are the face, voice, and primary service provider within the company. If so, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about.


But what if you're thinking, “Nope, I'm one of 100,000 employees in a Fortune-500 company. I'm definitely NOT the brand!”?


I have news for you: You're not just a brand, you're TWO brands: You represent your company or organization when communicating with external clients, vendors, collaborators and other stakeholders, AND you represent your OWN brand, no matter WHOM you're speaking to.


Your energy, integrity, commitment, confidence, empathy, authenticity, passion, and more are reflected in every conversation you have, whether in person or on video. The quality of the experience others have with you and come to expect from you in these interactions becomes your reputation… in other words, your brand.


And nowadays 99% of the world knows the “virtual you” far better than the “in-person you,” especially since most of the world will never get the chance to meet the “in-person you.”


How well does the “virtual you” reflect those brand qualities you WANT people to associate with you, as part of your reputation for excellence?


If people's virtual experience of you is still a B+ at best (and let's be honest — if you never turn your camera on, it's a D: it's passing, but barely), it's time to up your game. Check out my self-paced online course Virtual Influence to learn how to deliver a consistently excellent “BRAND-YOU” experience for everyone you encounter.


Don't let fear of ego keep you from raising your virtual bar, for fear that someone else might think you're showing off or trying to make everyone else look bad by comparison. Raise the bar, and help everyone else rise to that level too! Then everyone wins.


You'll be giving them a GIFT.


Speaking of gifts, in the spirit of giving hope to children and families, Maude is giving two extremely generous gifts to our listeners:


First, if your child or a child you know is struggling with one of the challenges or disorders Maude’s therapists address at A Total Approach, she has offered a free consultation call to discuss their needs via Zoom. Just send her an email at to set up your call.


How do you know if you should take her up on this offer? As Maude wisely said, “When the strengths and weaknesses don't balance each other out and the child is not happy, it's time to do something.”


And second, you can also get $100 off any course at the Maude Le Roux Academy using the code Influence100.


At the very least, in this springtime holiday season of fresh starts, if you’re tired of the stale experience of video conferencing with people using 2020-quality standards for what’s minimally “good enough” for your virtual experience, download my free guide to equipment recommendations to improve your virtual influence here.


Trust me, there’s a whole different kind of catharsis in store for you (and everyone you connect with online) if you do!

9 Ways to Finish 2021 With a Smile

Be thankful for what you have;
you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have,
you will never, ever have enough.
– Oprah Winfrey


We did it again! We are in the home stretch of 2021 and looking back, I am incredibly grateful for everything I have:

  • a nice home and wonderful, healthy family
  • a great job that pays the bills and makes me look forward to getting out of bed every day
  • plenty of good food, clean air and water
  • a fully functioning body and mind (okay, that last one might be debatable, but just go with it for now)
  • and so much more.


On the morning of the 31st I plan to take some time to reflect on the entire year and make a special “gratitude journal” entry for 2021. It’s so easy to get lost in the frustrations, losses, disappointments and everyday annoyances, but this practice helps keep things in perspective, and that changes everything.


Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done.


Maybe you feel like there are a lot of unfinished things on your “to-do list.”


Maybe you suffered the loss of a job or a loved one that has cast a shadow over a big chunk of the year.


Or maybe you’re just exhausted at the end of yet another pandemic-driven year (is there anyone this does not apply to?)


The good news is that it’s not too late to end the year on a WIN!


As my little gift to you, I’m giving you a menu of NINE different ways to do something good for yourself and/or for others. Each of them can be done in minutes or hours, so even if you only pick one from the list, you’re virtually guaranteed to end the year with something that makes you smile inwardly and outwardly, and say to yourself, “I’m so glad I did that!”


You may recall that each week on the Speaking to Influence podcast, our guests participate in the “24-Hour Influence Challenge” – inviting you to take and complete just one step in 24 hours to have more influence. These are the good kind of challenges, the transformative ones. And this year, 38 guests provided 38 unique, creative, and inspiring opportunities to do just that.


That’s why this week’s Speaking to Influence episode is the “Best of the 24 Hour Influence Challenge from 2021. ” I’ve compiled a “listening smorgasbord” of nine guests’ challenges over the course of the last year, each of which falls into one (or more) of three categories:


  1. Personal vision and clarity;
  2. Skill Development; and
  3. Leading (and giving to) others


And yes – all of those categories help to increase your powers of influence!


Listen to the full podcast here or watch it here.



Whether you use a vision board, a to-do list, a flip chart, a SMART plan, or anything else to plan ahead for the upcoming year, let me know which of these other nine challenges you accepted as a way to close out the current year with a smile and a WIN.


I can’t wait to hear about your success, and how they change YOUR outlook for 2022.

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