When I began interviewing celebrities, newsmakers and business pros in 2012, it was — and continues to be — somewhat selfishly motivated: I wanted to learn. If you are someone who thinks you already “know it all,” then we’re probably not a very good fit, personally or professionally. But if you thrive on collaboration, conversation, laughter and thought, we’re destined to hit it off. (I have been told I’m “thought-full”). Talking to this diverse group of worker bees became like a drug to me — an addiction I can’t kick! Intellectual, psychological and emotional stimulation is everything to me.
My life is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. Though I’m amazed by the variety of work presented to me, three themes tie it all together: creativity, communication and storytelling. Innovation is powered by creativity. Without thoughtful communication, we’re doomed. And every organization has a story to tell and an audience they want to hear that message. Though the platforms available to showcase these narratives have grown tremendously, a compelling story always wins. Plus, I love to work; but I also do best when I’m working with people who share — or appreciate those of us with — an overactive creativity-infused right brain and a well-ordered, Type-A left brain! Oh, I like to laugh a lot, too.
Again, it’s all about creativity, communication and storytelling, typically with a sales, marketing, PR, or speaking/training slant. Perhaps most popular is my work supporting written/visual online content and website development for various industry types. If you need words, I’ll “smith” ‘em: blogs, press releases, sales collateral, etc. If your focus is visual mediums, I tend to be more about storyboard development and creative direction: videos, graphic design, photography and the like. I also love when I get hired to inspire/entertain a conference audience or maximize the skill sets of an internal creative team. Nothing beats a fired-up think tank!
As our culture seems to be obsessed with visuals, my team produced a video of examples of my portfolio. But as soon as I thought I’d seen it all, I got a call to support a TV pilot filming close to my home in Naples, Florida — complete with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink list of responsibilities that called upon practically every tool in my kit. I love it when people look at my creative and organizational skills and ask themselves: I wonder if he can do this? If I can — and if the caller is enthusiastic and collaborative — chances are good that I’m IN.
Preparation. Creative thinking. Concise, thoughtful emails and voicemails. Employing an almost superhuman level of patience. And finally, authenticity juxtaposed against Erin Brockovich’s favorite word: stick-to-itiveness. And yes, name-dropping helped a lot, too! Though this was not part of an elaborate master plan, I came to realize how ironic it was that Peggy Post (The Emily Post Institute) and Erin Brockovich are so prominently featured in my book. I came to realize I’m one-part Peggy — an advocate for courtesy, civility and respect — and one-part Erin, a straight-talking Midwesterner with a strong moral compass who wants to love everyone but understands when someone has crossed the line. As Erin says, we both have an intrinsic need to “right wrong.”
These extraordinary men and women consistently force me to reassess and reinvent myself — and my thought process. Not only do they feed my imagination, but they lead me to new ideas and best practices. And guess what? That’s why I share it. IF you are willing to read or listen with a truly open mind, they can do the same thing for you. There’s nothing more satisfying than being a student of YOU.
To begin, I have been on stage most of my life — primarily in comedic roles. Being in front of an audience is “home” for me. And I have been in countless conference and seminar audiences — bored out of my mind — because the speaker did not customize the presentation to the audience. With so many diverse thought-leaders in my inner circle, my source material is continually being rebooted and refreshed. I treat every stage appearance as a performance and I painstakingly plan each presentation based on the specific goals of the sponsor organization. I also tend to focus on innovation, leadership, authenticity, creativity, courtesy, respect and the benefits of positive communication. Everyone can benefit from a renewed focus on these critical, human-nature imbued issues. And I have always believed we walk away better informed if we are entertained in the process. Again, we produced a video that shows me in action!
I’ve taught public speaking and positive communication to corporate clients and non-profit organizations, but I have also worked with individuals seeking to improve their personal brand: leadership, written and verbal communication, self-actualization and self-expression. As the ability to “think on your feet” is essential in all business settings, I include a healthy dose of improvisation as part of the process. When appropriate, I engage in a professional assessment process that can reveal life-changing information about each participant. My favorites include a group of “emerging leaders,” middle-management professionals at a large publishing company, and a newly appointed CEO, a brilliant man from the financial world, who was simply looking to find his public voice. And he did.
have so many favorite quotes from my interviews, but this comment from Suze Orman haunts me — in a GOOD way: “Every new moment you spend with anybody and anything has to be a new moment and not just a recreation of the past.”
When it comes to how and why we communicate, this is what I always say: Whether it is words or images — digital or print — all business communication is meant to sell something: a product, a service, a concept or an emotion.
There’s a serious answer to this oft-asked harebrained question. (Get it?!) Yes, I am horrified by all members of the lagomorph community; however, I’m also an advocate for facing your fears. As a card-carrying leporiphobe, I have a “fear” that enjoys hopping and terrorizing small children every Easter, and one that can rip my face off. And yes, there’s a backstory. When I was in college, I was at work, I was naked, and I was attacked by a bunny. But if you want to know the full account, you really do need to read my book!
No. No. Let me check. Never would. And not yet!