Category Archives: Uncategorized

The pillowcase method

If you live in the Bay Area, you are familar with the Hotel Workers strike against the Hyatt and various properties in San Francisco. I have studied this battle and after a ton of input, continued to conclude that the Unions were using a media manipulation tactic to gain an unfair advantage in mediation. Basically, the hotels conceded with every measure, except the contract date. The unions want all contracts nationally to end on the same day – the Hotels will not agree to this as it gives up too much bargaining power.
I could go a lot of places with this post – here we go. Gavin Newsom, our Mayor, received a lot of support and funding from the Hotel Council in San Francisco. Yet, our gutsy Mayor, woke up one morning, plastered some gel in his hair, and walked a picket line with the union workers. Whether I agree with him or not- damn, that is someone who is NOT a politician. Made me really respect the guy.
Last week, I was sitting in a board meeting for Emerge California. www.emergeca.org
At the beginning of the meeting, we provided time for the local Union to come in and talk to us about their fight. As the young representative talked about the situation, I must admit I looked at my fingernails once or twice. Then….
A woman in her 50’s stood up and introduced herself. She paused and looked around the room. She asked us, “Think about the last time you changed a pillowcase. She stopped for a moment and asked the question again. She then asked, “Imagine changing pillowcases all day. Can you imagine it? All day long. This is not easy labor.”
I hate changing pillowcases. It is not easy work. Why do we pay hotel workers, primarily women, at such a low wage. is it because this is a traditionally female dominated position? Do we not consider it hard work.
I realized I was sitting in a room getting ready to talk about politics and women. I am also in a city where our Mayor is putting women in traditionally male roles.. police fire…
This woman changed the way I feel about this hotel strike.
How? She didn’t talk ‘about’ things.. no charts… no graphs… just shared a human experience. In such a powerful way. To make it more powerful, next time she can bring a couple of pillows and have folks actually do it.
Now that, the pillowcase method, is great communication. To change a mind, we must first be heard. I heard you dear.

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Wow, this stuff actually works

I am having fun writing a book. I should say completing a book as it has been a project in my life for quite awhile.
Last week I was writing in my chapter about some advice Dr. Richard Allen gave to me about communication. Actually, he wasn’t directing the advice to me.. we were just chatting about how folks can sometimes go into drama and the appropriate responses to this drama.
I added this idea to my book realizing I was going to need to test it out at least 10 times to prove it is a sound theory.
Today was the day. I still do some sales work for the company I recently sold. It is a wonderful sound business; yet folks calling in are sometimes quite rude and dramatic. So this guy Jack calls me and leaves a message. Sounds like a nice man on the message so I give him a call back. He answers the phone and will not acknowledge who he is until I go through 20 questions. Once I convince him I am actually returning his call, he chastises me for not being clear that he had called me.
No worries. We are all busy and we are all plagued by sales people cold calling. He starts asking me about my business. I let him know what my experience has shown and my opinion on a few questions he has.
The man flips out. It is difficult to describe the next 3 minutes. He is attacking me and being so incredibly rude I just couldn’t believe it. He yells over and over again that I my opinion is wrong and that I should never say what I said again. Over and over he says the same thing. A new volume each time.
I thought about letting him know that we likely were not a good fit for him. Instead, I said over and over again, “You are exactly right Jack.” After my third time saying you are exactly right, he paused… stuttered and said, Um, hold on.
After sitting on hold for 2 minutes I quietly hung up the phone.
What I think happened: He realized in the middle of his tirade that he was in a tirade. I suspect if I called him today he would be a super nice man.
I won’t be calling him. It is just nice to know the technique works.
Wow. This stuff reallly works.

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They aren’t pimping tapes

All day I had been looking forward to going to The Lab (www.thelab.org) and seeing some friends with their kinetic sculputer and metal fire fun. Brett, our nephew, needed to see some visual feasts not found in Austin Texas. Right before it became time to saddle up, my little precious pitter patter, Sebastian, made it clear he was not going.
John encouraged me to go ahead and take the kid and he would stay home with the baby. I considered this option for a moment and realized Brett is surrounded by women: his mom, aunt Jean and Grandmother Lillian. This boy needs some guy time.
The baby fell asleep quite easily. My MAC was temporarily broken, (Thank you Eric for fixing it) so I was unable to sit next to the baby and write in my book. Thumb twiddle thumb twiddle.
So I get up and start doing what I do when I am bored …. cleaning up my e-mail in-box. (We do not have television. My husband doesn’t have TV for philosophical reasons. I share his reasons. I must say though, I got rid of my television over a decade ago when I realized it was crack for me and I did not have will power. We don’t miss it.. really. My sister TIVO’s shows so when I go to visit she can keep me culurally up to date.)
I digress….again. I see an e-mail from Verne Harnish (www.gazelles.com) .. he is a business guru who facilitates the Birthing of Giants (http://www.inc.com/events/birthingofgiants/) program I was in. In this e-mail, he reminds me that my friend Jason Abernathy, someone I respect and admire, suggested we watch www.thesecret.tv
I am about to trash it when I realize Jason is someone I should listen to. I am hovering over the delete button as my little boy wakes up. I move some blankets and pillows into my office, cuddle little Sebastian up so he will fall back asleep, and pay my 5.00 to watch thesecret.tv
I must be blunt. The first 5-minutes of this program made me gag. I can not think of anyone who I trust enough to continue watching this thing. I continue watching – I trust Jason that much.
It is quite incredible. A concept I have lived most of my life. A concept I lost touch with in the past few years. I am so thankful to be reminded of it.
It views like an info-mmercial. It will make you gag. They do not try to sell you anything at the end. Watch it.

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Deep-Fried Twinkies

What does a person do with a 12-year old nephew from Austin Texas? About a year ago, before the baby was born, we invited Brett here for the summer. His dance card fairly full with other relatives, we were able to negotiate a week of fun with this fast talking preteen.
He was only here for about 10-minutes when I let my husband know that we are not going to give him back. He has more energy and pep than 3 of the most hyper people I know meshed together. The first morning I woke up to the sound fo someone sweeping- this kid got up early and did some “chores” around the house without anyone asking. I let him know I would be responsible for showing hm the slacker side of life for the rest of his San Francisco vacation.
We take him to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. He has never seen the ocean and has only ridden on one rollercoaster. (two now) The ride down highway one was filled with questions and more laughter.
Kids will try just about anything. There is this concession sign that sells Deep Fried Twinkies… you did not read that wrong. Deep Fried Twinkies. Deep Fried Oreos… you name it. You remember Twinkies… they are that food we loved as kids… the food that is spray painted brown on the bottom so it appears the cake was baked.
I convinved Brett to try it. The pink faced boy behind the counter let us know the Deep Fried Twinkie is actually at the top of the food pyramid.
With much trepidation, he took the first bite. The look on his face was one of pure enjoyment and elation. I sampled a piece and truly folks, I could not believe how yummy it was. It is like the best yellow butter cake ever created. i was only allowed one bite so I can not elaborate.
Okay, so in this scenario it was really easy to break one of my cardinal rules “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” As I walked around the boardwalk after sampling the decadence of 100% trans fat and no nutritional value, I actively started looking for what I liked.
The foundation of my communcations training is for folks to watch for what they like in oher beings. It causes our cellular memory to retain the positive and it causes others to feel more open to us. This practice also lightens our mood and makes our communications pathways more open. Remember, I am a verbal communications coach.. I fail miserably in writing.
I realized that I was not following my own creed… as I walked around the noise and the rides I was not watching for what I liked. Once I began this process, once I stopped judging the twinkie by its cover, I saw some incredible relationships. Families. Friends. People.
It is a beautiful world out there.

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Apparent

Being a parent (apparent) is a difficult thing to describe. My friend Corey, Willa’s dad, did a great job of it yesterday.
There is this room in your head, you see. It is a room you have known about your entire life. You see the room, saunter by the room… it is always there.
Until you are a parent, you do not have the key to the room. YOu have never been inside.
There are stunning revelations in that room. A feeling that is so difficult to explain or describe.

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And Baby Makes Pea

Today, Sebastian James Law learned how to feed himself. Not bad for an 8-month old with a control freak for a mom.
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Control Freak
NOW YOU SAY CONTROL FREAK WHO!!!!!
At each feeding experience, I gently place a bib around Sebastian and patiently feed the Organic Strained Peas or Turkey Vegetable (it is really Apples with a hint of Turkey and Vegetable) into the little boys’ mouth. I deftly avoid his grasp as he tries to take the spoon.
You see, he will get very messy if I let him grab the spoon. To avoid all of that funk, it is just easier if I just do it for him. To keep him happy and engaged, I just give him another spoon to play with while he waits for me to shovel the ground up yummies into the airplane hangar.
Today, he wasn’t having it. He wanted ALL the spoons… all the baby food jars… he did not want mom involved at all. So I gave him all the materials and just let him have at it. If mud bathes are good for the skin- I am certain baby food bathes must be a positive experience. He fed himself, went straight to the bath and dad hosed out the kitchen.
Today, As the Chief Executive Mom of my training company, I keep my eyes wide open for learning opportunities in both my professional and personal life. I suppose today’s lesson is about facilitation. Sometimes the best advice is to just get out of the way and watch the organic growth that can occur with out a shadow. kibitzing along.
Now the question is how to I convince an 8-month old that, as cute as sticking his little tongue out when he is excited is, when he falls down and goes boom… it is really going to REALLY hurt.

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I do not need to know anything else about you

Lat night at 4am, my son woke with quite a howl. We had taken him to the doctor yesterday with a steadily climbing fever of 102.4. As a new mom, of course I was completely calm and composed.
The tests they did on him, I will not discuss them here as I hurt thinking about it, indicated he had some sort of infection, possibly of the kidney. They convinced us that antibiotics were the only key and an ultrasound next week will help decide if it is a genetic abnormality.
So he gets this ridiculously painful shot of antibods… we waited 30 minutes before taking him home… and they told us to give him more antibods before he goes to sleep.
Well, I get this ‘mom’ thing. I call the advice nurse and tell her I am not comfortable double dosing him.. he is only 8 months old. She gets a doctor to agree that I can wait until morning to see if he gets a rash.
4am- Hello major rash. More Kaiser. More tests. Sleep and see. This morning. More Kaiser. More tests. We are still in wait and see mode.
So much of what I teach is about trusting intuition. A bad allergic reaction can cause some serious effects… I am so thankful I listened to my gut. We still don’t know for sure what is going on- though they seem confidence everything is now fine.
Whew.
The point of my story, I have a new client who is running for office for the first time. He is a dedicated public servant who has given so much time and energy to the public good. When I take on a candidate, I force myself to do a little investigation to make sure I am aligned with a good deal of the beliefs and qualities of the person I am training.
Our first meeting was going to be today. With everything going on, I had to cancel the session last minute. Keep in mind, this candidate has an important situation coming up and needed me today. With th stress in a campaign, he has every right to be a bit miffed at my backing out.
What does he do? He picks up the phone and calls me to make sure my son is okay. He says he heard in my message the regret I had for missing and he wanted to make sure I knew it was no big deal and that I was doing the right thing. Please don’t worry about me or this- we will see each other soon.
I know everything I need to know about this candidate now. I do not need to know anything else about you, Mr. Candidate. You got my vote.

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Being sorry means you stop doing it

The world is my communication science lab.
This will be a very boring blog today – I’d stop reading here if I were you. Basically, I am not at liberty to share the details of my experience due to a confidentiality agreement I have. I sat here tonight and tried to think of creative ways to present the experience today with out leaking Mr. Sanders secret recipe. It is an important lesson in here.. I just am unsure how to present it,
Having failed, I will say this:
If you are lucky enough in you life, to have a person tell you that you have hurt their feelings, think of the following ideas before you respond. Now, I say “lucky enough” because a person who tells you that their feelings are hurt is basically saying to you that they care enough about the relationship to navigate some discomfort with you. This is a gift.
If someone tells you their feelings are hurt, here is a surefire list of things that will destroy the relationship:
1) Tell them they are being defensive. The moment we accuse a person of being defensive, they really have no choice but to stop talking. We accuse people of defensiveness to take the heat off of ourselves. When we sense someone is “defensive” we can ask questions to help them navigate out of that place. There is not a human on the planet who will be less defensive when we accuse them of being so.
2) Accuse them of something else. “You are seeing this in a negative view,” or “you are too sensitive” or “No one else feels this way” When we do this, we basically are telling them that not only do their feelings not matter- they do not matter.
3) Ignore them. This is a good one. Just pretend you didn’t hear it or get the e-mail. This is a very powerful statement of ‘you don’t matter to me.’
4) Talk about the situation with out them in the room. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is so healthy. (Said as sarcastically as I can muster.) The moment we discuss a situation with out the person in the room, with a few other people, we become fanatics for our ‘side’. That is the side of ‘what the hell is wrong with you, there is no reason for you to feel upset.’ Get 3 people in a room talking about something and forget ever trying to change their collective mind. To add even more power to this idea, tell the person the next time you are all together that all you did when they were gone was talk about this issue. “I called Joe when I heard about it.” (Not, I care enough to call YOU and see if you are okay.)
5) Remain silent. If you have privately let them know you agree with them, do not say anything when the group is together. If you do say something, totally water it down so it doesn’t really seem like you agree. This helps the group feel the person is a lunatic – and makes teams so much stronger. The person will likely forget you ever agreed with them so don’t worry about it.
6) Never, ever say you are sorry. It is their problem and it is your job to convince them it is their problem. If someone has their feelings hurt, do not express concern or sadness that you may have inadvertently hurt their feelings, instead, do your best to drive your agenda and make sure they know they are wrong. This is super good for relationships and will earn you the National Medal of I Wasn’t Wrong. Wear it proudly.
7) Raise your voice. or. Soften your voice and tell the person you are afraid to say anything because you might hurt their feelings again. This will make the person feel safe and loving toward you. Don’t worry, it isn’t transparent at all.
OK. So I sound like a pissy bitch. Here is a better program for improving relationships through communication. When conflict happens, it is the time for us to create the foundation for future trust.
If someone tells you their feelings are hurt:
1) Be sorry. Truly and emotionally. Even if you have NO IDEA what you did, at least, if you care about the person, feel sorry that they are hurt. Express this. Often this is enough for the person to feel safe again. They at least know you care. “The last thing I wanted to do is make you feel bad. What can I do?”
2) Ask them to explain to you what happen. Listen with out agenda. Do not talk over them. Let them talk. Often folks will end their talk with.. you know it wasn’t that big a deal. We have ALL felt hurt. When we felt hurt, yes, sometimes we are reactionary and seeing things out of perspective. It doesn’t help us when someone points that out. If ya really care about the person, take the risk that they can convince you that you were an ass and maybe you are not perfect. Take the risk that they are right.
3) Let them be right. I have learned this recently. In the middle of a conversation lately, I just said to a group of people, okay, you must be right. Who cares if they are right. Why is this so important. ?
4) Listen for where you made a mistake. Actually quest for this knowledge. This can only make you a better person, to know when you are being a butt. Why we are so afraid of this, I do not know. (I am guilty for it)
5) If you are in a group, do not allow people to process without the person present. You will be a hero if you just stand up for anyone who is not in the room.
6) Speak their side. Truly try to see things from their perspective.
Relationships are fragile. Think of what is going on in our world right now. Times are tough, wars are going on, people do not trust …. why add to it by having to be so damn right all the time.

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A Spider Monkey on Crack in a Disco Ball Factory (Daylight)

It’s official. I am channeling another being, as referenced in the title. It seems my once focused and drven panther-like self has been replaced with a “spider monkey on crack in a disco ball factory in the sunshine.” In other words, if it sparkles.. I am RUNNING to it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see so much opportunity… “I know, I will try that….” It took me about five seconds to name my last company- it has taken me 5 months to name this one. And dear, I still do not have a name I love.
Focus.Focus.Hocus.Pocus….
(I just got really excited for a second there and thought I’d found the name of my company.. .HocusFocus… damn. The name is taken.
Today I took a break from all this namegamehoopla and took my son swimming at the Brisbane pool. I was so pleased to see all the Brisbane moms I know at the pool with their kids. I realized that this could be my life – if I could just sit with it for a second. (The pool was sparkling you see.)
I walked back up the hill in 90 degree heat schleping a toddler size airplane for my baby boy gifted to us from the street. I had to stop every tiny little shade spot to regroup and breathe. I gave Sebastian his wet t-shirt to cool off and he kept cooing each time I put it on his head. I received a call from a company wanting me to create their curriculum for training their executives. I could do that. (The cell phone was sparkling you see. Perhaps a mirage from all the blacktop heat.)
I come home to find my husband out on the deck swabbing brain cell killing wood covering on our deck. As I watched him I realized the garden needed a good weeding. I could get into that.
I just heard a noise. My little tyke is watching me type. It is time to stop – you see there is this little gleam in his eye…

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Um? So What!

SO I am sitting at a stop light (in my car) waiting for the light to give me the go… along side me comes rumbling up.. a 1965 Plymouth Fury. Aaaaah. I have been looking for one of these- it was my first car and I am still in love.
Am I creating my universe or do we just get back what we focus on? Does that sentence even make sense? My point, amidst my caffeine headache, did I see 4 of these cars the past 3 weeks because I was looking for them…. were they always there and I didn’t notice… or did I manifest some parallel universe where these grand machines live in abundance.
I remember a few years ago when I traveled to Santiago Cuba my amazement of the time-stood-still vehicle time machine. So many of the vehicles are from the 50’s when Cuba could purchase America cars before the ’63 embargo. Thirty years later and the 50’s American dream cars were alive and well.
Yet, the past few weeks I was not in Cuba. I sense that I see all these ’65 machines because I am alert and looking for them. They have been going along fine in their life, all around me. And now, I see them.
What we focus on is what we see. It bothered me today. I had someone call me to interview me as a potential speech coach. I asked them their number one desire in the training. They felt they could use some basic speech training, “You know, get rid of the ‘um’s.” It seemed they had taken a Toastmasters class and each time they said um a coin was dropped in a jar. They wanted someone to help them get rid of the ums in the same way.
Um, can I be honest with you right now? I absolutely HATE Toastmasters and all they stand for. The last thing a person needs when they are embracing the joy of public speaking is some silly person dropping a coin in a jar.. letting the person know what they are doing wrong.
And who said that saying UM is bad anyway? Why as a people do we hate this word so much? People have been conditioned now to listen for it and grade the speaker based on this ridiculous litmus test. We focus on the um’s.. we get the um’s.
You can say 13 UPS (Ums per speech) and I will not care if you related to me as a person… engaged me… got me involved.
Take my advice, be careful who you accept crticism from in public speaking. Your way just may be the right way. The goal of a speech is not to be perfect.. well, it is to be perfect as YOU. Be You. Folks come to hear YOU not your words.
Do also avoid loving a car that is 40 years old, bad for the environment and gets 10 miles to the gallon….it is heartbreaking to, um, want something so ‘bad.’

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