Happy Holidays!

Over the years I have written several Christmas poems and stories that I have shared, but there is one story so dear to me that I want to share the story again! I love the holidays! Tradition to me is important; putting on Christmas ornatments that have been in the family for years and looking at the dates on them., trying to remember where we were and what we were doing.

I’ll always remember my first Christmas with Annie. We were on a tight budget our first Christmas together, so instead of spending money we didn’t have on ornaments for the tree that wasn’t up yet, she bought a do-it-yourself paint kit of 40 flat wooden Christmas figures. Annie hand painted every one, front and back , while I was on the road. I never knew she was doing it until she surprised me Christmas Eve with them.

Every year she suggests we keep them off the tree because she says … “Rob, they are just cheap little ornaments” … but to me they can’t be replaced. They hang there quietly among the fancy expensive ornaments, shining softly when the tree lights flicker, all with gentle smiles on their faces. Those simple wooden figures represent to me what the holiday season is all about … giving, caring, loving, tradition, family and friends. My heart just lights up when I proudly display them at the front of the tree.

I don’t know your traditions or your religious ways or even if you celebrate the holidays, but I still want to share with you my wish that your holidays be as happy as mine and filled with the meaning of 40 wooden figures.

My hope for you and your family is simply this:
I hope you are all safe and full of happiness.
Keep adding to your traditions and share them with friends.
I hope your health is good and your success never ends.

Robert Stevenson is an International Award-winning Speaker, Best-selling Author, and Entrepreneur. Robert understands what it takes to succeed! He is a man who knows how to deal with the risks, competition, and the ever-changing business arena. His ability to connect with an audience is amazing; blending humor, facts, inspiration, conviction and audience participation. Author of the best-selling book, now in it’s third revision, “How to Soar Like an Eagle in a World Full of Turkeys” Robert makes the reader laugh and cry, but mostly it will make the reader think. Book Robert for your next event: https://bit.ly/2MthqnN

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The Gift of Time in Aisle 9

“Look at all the sugar in these cereals,” the shrunken, old man pushing 90 said aloud in Aisle 9 at my local drugstore. As he reached for the Cheerios off the shelf, our eyes met. “I’m down to one teaspoon in my coffee, instead of three. Heck, during WWII I was happy if the coffee was even hot.” The man, I’d soon come to know as Frank, immediately wiped away a tear with the brush of his jacket sleeve. “I never used to cry, but I seem to cry all the time now.” “That’s healthy,” I replied with a big smile, “it means you’re human.” Frank returned the smile as he launched into a story about his service buddies. Glancing at the cold milk in my cart and lengthy holiday list in hand, I began to rehearse a graceful exit strategy.  After all, I didn’t have a moment to spare. Ready to execute, I turned back towards Frank and got smacked with a feeling. One I didn’t see coming, but knew I must honor.  In that awakened moment, I put away my list and said, “Tell me more about WWII.” 

Time seemed to stop in Aisle 9 as Frank told me all about his war experience and being part of the largest land battle ever fought by our country – the Battle of the Bulge. “Do you know there were over 70,000 American casualties during that battle alone?” “Yes, I do.” I replied.  “My Dad was captured in that Battle and became a Prisoner of War in Stalag 11B.”

Frank’s eyes were alert when I shared the story of how Dad’s frozen feet, rather than being amputated, were saved thanks to the connection he made with a German cook’s young son during his brief hospital stay. The 10-year-old boy, who wanted to learn English, was drawn to my Dad’s genuine smile, warmth, and kindness. Following a day of lessons, he brought Dad a bottle of schnapps to show his appreciation. Dad drank the liquor, massaged his feet all night through the intense pain, and regained enough circulation to prevent the operation the following morning. Frank chuckled when I shared how Dad ended up playing professional football for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles with those same feet!

When the conversation came to a natural close, Frank smiled, put out his hand, pulled me into a hug, and whispered “Thank you for taking time to talk with me.” “It was my pleasure and honor,” I whispered back.  And I meant it. As I held this sweet, dear man in my arms, I could feel his body gently shake as he can no longer hold back tears.

My own eyes misted as I felt the power of Dad’s lesson of kindness and warmth play out in my life.  This time it wasn’t a little boy and a bottle of schnapps in a war hospital, but an overwhelmed, working mom with a shrunken old man in Aisle 9.  But the lesson remained the same. The power of connection through a genuine smile. The magic in an unexpected place. A moment I almost missed because I didn’t have time to waste.

This holiday season, remember the greatest gift you can give another is your presence and time. No wrapping required.

Colette Carlson is a human behavior expert and CPAE Hall of Fame Motivational Keynote Speaker who inspires organizations and individuals to connect and communicate in real and relevant ways. With wit, humor and sincerity, each of Colette’s experiences weaves together real-life lessons on genuine connection and the tools to leverage those connections for personal and professional success. Book Colette for your next event: https://bit.ly/2s9CY1B

What are You Thankful For?

As today is Thanksgiving, I am reminded of all that I have to be grateful for. I have truly had a blessed life…a wonderful family, fabulous interesting friends, a great career traveling the world and studying other cultures.  I live in a country where I am free to vote and practice whatever religion I prefer.  I can speak out about whatever I choose to speak about.

I truly learned to appreciate all of this when I lived in South Africa during apartheid and witnessed the lack of freedoms and rights of many people…rights that we Americans often take for granted.

One year when I was in South Africa a friend attempted to make a traditional dinner for me and I so loved her for doing it. I was a long way from home and my family and she made the day really special.  It wasn’t anything like what we make, but it was really good.  As they don’t get turkey in the markets until Christmas, we had Cornish game hens. Since they don’t have real pumpkin like ours, they call their squash “pumpkin” so she made a pumpkin pie from squash and put chocolate sprinkles on top.  It certainly had an unusual flavor.

Another year, I had dinner with some other friends who heated the cranberry sauce and poured it over vanilla ice cream for dessert.  That was a real surprise to me, but actually it tasted quite good.

My most memorable Thanksgiving was the year I was speaking in Dubai for the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and my client actually had a turkey flown in so he and his family could make Thanksgiving dinner for me.  They invited all the Americans they knew and we all cooked and enjoyed dinner together.

It’s times like these when I realize that people around the world are people who are just like us…who want to have peace, happiness, and the love of their families and friends.  This year, I am thankful for my health, for overcoming cancer, and for still being able to speak, write and touch people’s lives in a positive way.

Judi Moreo is an International Award-winning Motivational Speaker, Best-selling Author, Corporate Trainer and Executive Coach. Known as “The Charismatic Communicator” Judi is one of the most in-demand speakers on motivation, communication skills, and personal development in the world. She is the author of mewly revised You Are More Than Enough and is the publisher of both the Life Choices book series and Choices magazine as well as the host of the popular Choices with Judi Moreo internet radio show. To book Judi Moreo click here: https://bit.ly/2Orosec

Leadership Through Change

The modern workplace has significant levels of stress. It can also be immersed with conflict related to change-management and downsizing. Technological change can cause conflict, as can changing work methodologies. Sometimes change would come in the form of a new boss. Someone coming in with new ideas and new methodologies. Just reorganization alone, which is some workplaces tends to be almost chronic, leads to tremendous amounts of stress and conflict.

While leadership is about change, change causes anxiety to many. In some instances, nothing is worse to productivity that extreme and disturbing anxiety in the workplace. This is when people constantly focus on their sources of anxiety (job loss, loss of power, loss of advantages) rather than on their own productivity and the success of the company overall.

Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they’ve lost control over their territory and power. It also creates excess uncertainty. If change feels extremely uncertain, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain in misery than to head toward an unknown. In life in general, as much as in the workplace, we all need a sense of safety. Oftentimes with change, much unknown creates much irritability.

Leadership Definition – How it Connects to Change

Leadership is defined as the act of leading a group or organization. But sometimes leadership is faced with challenges in the face of change. Any decisions that imposed on people suddenly will cause anxiety and distress.

Everything seems different. Routine, as much as complained upon, brings certainty and confidence to many. Sudden decisions will create much bitterness and talk in the hallways.

In departing from the past and moving towards newer regulations, many will worry about loss of respect, face and status. Perhaps there are things that they do not really know. Maybe there are things they are not really good at. Things that were sort of protected by the older regulations. The concern would be that the newer regulations may expose inadequacies or incompatibilities.

Change also brings up concerns of being able to adapt to the newer requirements. Especially with technology, those that are not as technologically savvy may take longer to learn and feel extremely intimidated and agitated.

Many will worry that more will be required of them and are not sure how.

Leadership & Change – Getting Past Resentments

Resentments will come in two major forms: past resentments and present resentments.

Past resentments are sometimes staying put and quiet as long as everything is steady. But once anxiety is up, and things are steady no longer, these old resentments may surface again. The older they are, they may be harder to resolve. New resentments may arise stemming from the newly created circumstances.

Oftentimes, when older generation employees feel threatened by newer generation, and feel that their knowledge and experienced are not valued or may not be valued in the newly created circumstances.

The threat of change and the anxiety it causes are more than understandable. Change is promising to some, vital to the organization, dangerous to others. Because of that, change requires proactive conflict management practices. This is done in order to prevent escalation of conflict through change.

How to Lead Through Change

Here are some effective tips for leaders on successfully working through organizational change, without unnecessary drama:

1. Engage and Involve:

People tend to comply much more readily and easily if they feel a sense of ownership. This is rather than them feeling that things are imposed on them. While clearly change IS imposed on the employees, it would be a good idea to engage them in the process. And, to provide them with as much information and rationale as possible. This is in order to give them a sense of ownership rather than risk a sense of resentment.

2. Communicate, and Be Available to be Communicated With:

To keep your employees engaged, motivated and focused in a change-saturated environment, you will need to make yourself more available. This is good for you. As a leader you want to be able to monitor first-hand how things are managed under the organizational changes so that you can react quickly and effectively, and nip disasters in the bud. It is also good for your employees. They will have questions, and they will need clarity. The worst possible situation for an employee in a change saturated environment is to feel that there is no one to talk to other than water cooler talk with other employees.

3. Clarify Roles and Rules:

There is no difference between bigger and smaller corporations when it comes to low levels of clarity in terms of the scope of employees’ work or company policies. Regardless of the size of your organization, a lack of clarity will always lead to conflict.

The rule of thumb when it comes to employees’ scope of work and to company policies is “detail, detail, detail.” Detail aids clarity. In every situation where things are defined in a vague or partially vague manner there are problems. Messages are open not only to interpretation, but also to negotiation and power struggles. This isn’t because employees are necessarily trying to allocate more power to themselves. This may very well be the case, but it’s not always. But, because employees may truly make different assumptions as far as the scope of their work goes, what the policies are, and what is expected of them.

When their perceptions of expectations, scope, and policies clash, they will interpret that clash in a personal manner. Then conflict becomes inevitable. After all, when employees are unsure of what is expected of them, how can they be expected to perform in the best possible way? They can’t. That is why detail and clarity are so important.

4. Be Clear to Battle Fear

In departing from the past and moving toward newer regulations, many will worry about loss of respect, face, and status. One example of this could be a lack of skill or knowledge. This lack may perhaps be protected or hidden by older regulations. An employee may fear that these inadequacies or incompatibilities are about to be exposed.

Similarly, change also brings concerns of being able to adapt to the new requirements. This is especially true with technology. Those that are not as technologically savvy may take longer to learn new systems. They may feel extremely intimidated and agitated. Many will also worry that more will be required of them once the new changes are in place, and they are not sure how to meet those requirements.

The threat of change and the anxiety it causes are more than understandable. Change is promising to some, and perhaps vital to the organization. But, it’s dangerous to others. Because of that, change requires proactive conflict-management practices. In other words, management need to prevent conflict before it escalates. The Red-Shift Blue-Shift model, which we will talk about in greater detail later on, aims to do exactly that.

This model assists organizations in creating a language of effective conflict management. It does this throughout the organization during times of change or turmoil. It’s done in order to proactively address conflicts when they are still small, to increase engagement, and to create a company culture of true teamwork.

5. Promote a Company Culture of Adaptability- and Demonstrate It Yourself

To do well as a leader within your company and to build an adaptable team, you need to be able to accomplish five things. For the most part, what that means is that you need to create a corporate culture that recognizes the opportunity in every challenge.

As you accompany and support your employees through organizational change, remember that change related challenges are opportunities for growth. Highlight that in every conversation, meeting and communication. And furthermore, don’t forget to believe in it yourself, truly and whole-heartedly.

Dr. Michelle Rozen, International Keynote Speaker, Change Expert and Author, is a highly influential Social Media Expert, and featured on NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX News and many other media outlets discussing change, motivation and how the human mind works to become exceptional in every area of our lives, professionally and personally. Dr. Michelle Rozen is one of the most sought after International and National Keynote Speakers!  Book Dr. Michelle today: https://bit.ly/34QbHPv

Branding and the World Series!

It’s a great Friday in Washington, D.C.!!! 

If you are a sports fan, you know the Washington Nationals are in the World Series and playing at home tonight. This will be my first ever World Series Game and I’m SO excited!!!

My son is even coming home from college to go with us so I get an extra bonus. 

Since it’s Friday, that means it’s time for this week’s Get Famous Friday PR Tip. I’ve started incorporating case studies in these so you can see the impact and why you want to get started TODAY! 

This week is an incredible story of how branding and positioning led to something amazing. Watch the video and see. Like this tip? You can still get my new book, The DIY Guide to FREE Publicity for only $0.99 and lots of extra goodies with it. Go to www.TheDIYGuidetoPR.com to learn more.  

Imagine what just one media hit will do for your business. It’s a game changer! It’s another PR Success Story – Congrats to our very own Visibility VIP rockstar, Connie, who got yet another great article. This time it’s in Thrive Global.  

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/second-act-entrepreneur-thoughts-from-a-grandmapreneur/If you want to learn how PR can change YOUR business, let’s set up a call at www.ChatwithChristina.com.   Book Christina for your next event: https://bit.ly/2Wf0khh

Burned Out by Your Job?

Are you burned out at work?

Hear and see Courtney Clark, Speaker and Accelerated Resilience Expert, share how to make a career change at any age or stage………….

Thinking it’s time for a career change?

But worried you’re too old to change careers?

Here are 3 steps to follow to make a career change at any age…

In fact, if you’re feeling burned out, a lack of motivation, and disconnected in your current career path, it’s NEVER too late to change careers!

Are You a Missionary or Mercenary Leader?

It’s been proven time and time again – a positive customer experience has a direct correlation with financial success. A recent customer satisfaction study showed that two-thirds of customers would be willing to spend more following an excellent customer experience.

When your customers like the experience you deliver they’re more likely to consider you for another purchase and recommend you to others. They’re also less likely to switch their business away to a competitor.

Customer experience has become the new battleground for competitive advantage. The successful organizations of the future will be the ones that create memorable experiences for their customers as opposed to simply completing transactions.

People don’t talk about transactions, they talk about experiences.

How do ICONIC brands like Zappos, Chick-fil-A, Amazon and Disney continue to rise above the rest? According to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, the secret sauce is in having an “obsessive compulsive focus” on customer over competitor.

Bezos separates CEOs and entrepreneurs leaders into two categories – missionaries and mercenaries of the business world.

The missionary is building the product and building the service because they love the customer, because they love the product, because they love the service.

The mercenary is building the product or service so that they can flip the company and make money. “It’s usually the missionaries who make the most money.” he says.

The only way to win in today’s competitive environment is by:

  • delivering a seamless customer experience
  • making an emotional connection with your customers

Without passionate employees committed to wowing the customer, your brand becomes just another business in a sea of sameness – a commodity. Or you soar above and beyond the competition and become a category of one.

Jeff Bezos is a missionary leader famously obsessed with customers. “Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage,” Bezos has said.

It’d be hard to argue that Amazon’s compulsive obsession with customers hasn’t proven to be the best pathway to success and creating customer loyalty beyond measure. The iconic brand’s deliberate focus on pleasing its customers, rather than focusing on the bottom line has proved profitable for the company.

Take Amazon Prime for example. Currently, there are more than 100 million Prime members globally. Prime customers spend an average of $1,300 per year, nearly twice that of non-members.

Bezos’ customer obsession even transcends beyond the boardroom into every business decision and corporate meeting. Whether its three people, five people, or 15 people, every Amazon meeting has one extra seat reserved for the customer.

As I’ve always said, the experience your customers receive is a direct result of the work environment you create.

Are you a missionary or mercenary leader? What do your employees see in your daily behavior when you’re interacting with customers?

As a leader, it’s essential that your actions clearly demonstrate to your team that customer (and employee) experience is a priority. It may not require you leaving an empty seat in every meeting but believe me, people mirror and emulate what they see – not what you say.

Calvin Stovall, Keynote Speaker, specializes in delivering high-energy, customized keynote presentations for organizations that desire to reach or maintain ICONIC status. He focuses on delivering the perfect blend of business concepts, story-telling and music themes to bring home an impactful message that touches both the heads and hearts of his audiences. To Book Calvin for your next event click here: https://bit.ly/2lmOOSS

Your Worst Employee is Your Website’s Contact Form- Fire It!

When was the last time you left a voice mail message for a company you were considering doing business with? For example, if you had a leaky faucet and called a plumber, but got their voicemail, would you leave a message? For the vast majority of us, the answer is “No.” We just move on and contact the next vendor on the list. The bigger question is “Why don’t we — or won’t we- leave a message?”

The Three Reasons are:
1. We simply don’t want to wait. We have become accustomed to getting the answers we want when we want them. Whether it is being able to order items online 24-7, or simply asking Alexa or Google Home for the answer to a question. Today we don’t wait for a response. The information is at our fingertips and purchases are available with just one click.

2. There is an almost endless selection of other options available to us. Virtually everyone is good these days because if they weren’t, the marketplace would “out” them in short order. Face it, quality choices abound.

3. We don’t know when, or if, someone will get back to us. The same dynamic exists with your website contact form. The “contact form” is the answering machine of the internet. Nobody wants to fill it out. They want direct contact information to a real person. Get rid of it!

Here is the uncomfortable truth: If the only way for your customers (or prospective customers) to reach a real person at your business is through your website’s contact form, then you need to know that your form is driving away more prospects than your worst employee. It’s costing you a fortune in lost business.

To be clear, I understand why you have a contact form. You want to funnel all your messages to one person or department. You want to capture their contact information. You want to get a sense of what the question or problem is before you return their call. You want to avoid scaring people away with your unpublished price so you have them fill out the form so you can ascertain their needs and have a sales rep call them back to have a real conversation and tailor your solutions to their individual needs. Blah, blah blah.  The reasons go on and on.

The problem is that they are YOUR reasons. News Flash: Your customers don’t care about your reasons and they certainly don’t want to contact you the way you want them to. Your customers want to contact you the way THEY want to. And if you restrict their access or their communication options, you are driving them away — in droves.

The solution: Give them options! Sure, you can have a contact form, but also post a key staff directory with contact options. Give them phone numbers, email addresses and after hours options. I know you are reluctant, but your customers don’t care! Your customers want to connect with a real person. If you won’t let them, then they will contact your competitors. Trust me, it happens millions of times every day. Look! There goes another one!

David Avrin, CSP is a sought-after international speaker on Customer Experience and Marketing. He is the author of the best-selling book: Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back) named by Forbes as:
“One of the 7 Business Books Entrepreneurs Need to Read!” Book David Today:
https://bit.ly/2m1WutK

100 DEADLIEST DAYS OF SUMMER

Another summer is upon us and as we make plans for vacations and summer fun, we would like to remind you that we are entering the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” This may be the time to relax and plan for summer fun but IT IS NOT the time to relax while driving, especially for your teens. Just look at some of the facts:

  • Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
  • Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group.
  • An average 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, an increase of 26 % compared with the other months of the year.
  • 60 percent of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving.
  • Surprisingly, the top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15 % of teen driver crashes, compared to 12 % caused by texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • For every 100,000 Americans under the age of 21, 1.2 people were killed in drunk driving fatalities in 2015.
  • “Not only are teens themselves more likely to die in car crashes, they also have the highest rates of crash involvement resulting in the deaths of others, including passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles.” Newsday
Candace Lightner Blog

What does this mean for us as we watch our young people load up the car and drive off to the beach? It means we must remain vigilant and ensure that we have provided our teens with every safety tip known to man, woman and then some. Sometimes, it takes “a little extra courage” to remind our teen that too many passengers is dangerous, the cell phone should go in the trunk of the car while they are driving or at least be put in Drive Mode, that other distractions can be just as deadly and that impaired driving is not only dangerous; it is a crime.

Getting arrested for driving drugged or drunk can ruin the potential for a college education, a good job, an increase in insurance, not to mention the fine, lawyer’s fees, etc. These are some practical things to consider here that we often forget in our hurry to see our young people have fun.

Parents: It also means that we should not be serving alcohol or other drugs at parties, and we, too must eliminate distractions behind the wheel and always drive sober.

Give them permission and encourage them to call you if they are in a potentially dangerous driving situation such as their friend, who is driving, is drunk. Let them know you will pick them up without recriminations.

Empower them to show courage and decline a ride from a friend who has been drinking or taking drugs, and that driving in a car with a driver who can’t take their finger off the cell phone is not only hazardous to their friend’s health but their own. Saying “no thanks” may make the difference between life and death.

If they use Ride Share, they should travel in pairs, make sure their driver is sober, does not drive distracted, and take a picture of the license and ensure that it is their driver before they get in. I am not a fan of either Uber or Lyft for a number of reasons and prefer taxis.

Encourage them to sign the Courage to Intervene promise, https://wesavelives.org/education/courage-to-intervene/

Also, we can’t forget about speed limits, basic highway safety laws and tips on what to do if a tire goes flat, etc. Unfortunately, our young drivers are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations or not recognize potentially hazardous situations than we older drivers. Life is too precious to waste it on a cell phone conversation or a drink before driving. These tips can help your family have a safer summer.

Because I care . . . . .

Candace Lightner, Founder of MADD, and called by People Magazine as
“The Conscience of a Nation” is returning to the forefront. Candace has founded We Save Lives as a representative voice on highway safety issues. Focusing on the 3 D’sdrugged, drunk and distracted drivingWe Save Lives works with more than 60 partners at the local, state, national and international levels, to reduce deaths and injuries on the highways. She found her life’s purpose and continues today to move forward in her fight to save lives!  Book Candace to speak: https://bit.ly/2XCcC28