Are you touching yourself?

It’s a very important question.
You could be doing it – and have NO idea.
Most people don’t.
They do it in meetings, at their desk, in interviews, even on stage!
It’s really not a good thing.
I had a client who did it at the beginning of his media training with me yesterday… and with my help, he stopped. You can too.
Do YOU touch your face? At work, in meetings, during interviews or on stage? You shouldn’t.
Not only is it gross because you’re transferring bacteria, allergens and viruses to your face — but it’s also a dead giveaway that you’re uncomfortable with the situation.
When you rub your face, you’re calming yourself down because there are nerve endings there. Giving yourself a good temple rub in the bathroom is okay… but don’t do it in public IF you care what others think.
People absorb all the things you do PHYSICALLY while you’re speaking to them. They take that in as content. Not just what you SAY.
If you don’t really care what people think of you – then rub away. If you’re in sales, have a leadership role, looking to move up or own a company… you DO care… and it’s definitely something to work on.
This is why I record my clients on video. Sometimes they have no idea what they look like while they’re talking until they see what I shoot. It’s much easier to fix issues when you’re aware of them.

Try shooting video of yourself.

Positive body language could definitely help you become a more effective leader.

Would you like help? Click here for a free strategy session on the phone or on Skype.

No one at work will tell you this (especially if you’re the boss)

Some people talk with their hands.

Some people talk with their hands a little too much.

They’re in the middle of a room – yet, it’s like they’re waving down a plane. Distracting? Yes.

Have you ever been in an audience or watched someone online and found yourself watching them act like they’re conducting an orchestra? And you don’t remember a word they said?

What you’re DOING with your face, hands and the rest of your body can either ADD or DETRACT from your message. They may not hear a word you’re saying because of what your body’s doing.

You may have no idea you even have this issue. Most people won’t tell you. We’re all too nice. ESPECIALLY if you’re the boss.

Your non-verbal communication will contribute (or is contributing right now) to your success or failure.

Kasia Wezowski is the founder of the Center for Body Language and the author of four books on the subject. She recently wrote about this for the Harvard Business Review.

In the article, she specifically broke down body language from the 2012 U.S. Presidential election. The Center for Body Language conducted an online survey with 1,000 participants.

“… both Democrats and Republicans—watched two-minute video clips featuring Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at campaign events delivering both neutral and emotional content. Webcams recorded the viewers’ facial expressions, and our team analyzed them for six key emotions identified in psychology research: happy, surprised, afraid, disgusted, angry, and sad. We coded for the tenor of the emotion (positive or negative) and how strongly it seem to be expressed.  This analysis showed that Obama sparked stronger emotional responses and fewer negative ones. Even a significant number of Republicans—16%— reacted negatively to Romney. And when we analyzed the candidates’ body language, we found that the President displayed primarily open, positive, confident positions congruent with his speech. Romney, by contrast, often gave out negative signals, diminishing his message with contradictory and distracting facial expressions and movement.”

Are you sending out positive and open signals? Or are you sending out negative and distracting signals?

Let’s take a look.

The Center for Body Language studied successful leaders across a range of fields and identified several positions which indicate effective, persuasive body language.

Here are its findings:

Body Language - The Box Demonstrates Trustworthy Truthful ImageThe box

“Early in Bill Clinton’s political career he would punctuate his speeches with big, wide gestures that made him appear untrustworthy. To help him keep his body language under control, his advisors taught him to imagine a box in front of his chest and belly and contain his hand movements within it. Since then, “the Clinton box” has become a popular term in the field.”

Body Language - Demonstrates Commanding Dominant Posture

 

Holding the ball

 

“Gesturing as if you were holding a basketball between your hands is an indicator of confidence and control, as if you almost literally have the facts at your fingertips hands. Steve Jobs frequently used this position in his speeches.”Body Language - Wide Stance Demonstrates Confidence, Control

 

Wide stance

“How people stand is a strong indicator of their mindset.  When you stand in this strong and steady position, with your feet about a shoulder width apart, it signals that you feel in control.”

 

Body Language - Palms Up Demonstrate Honest, Accepting Posture

 

Palms up

“This gesture indicates openness and honesty.  Oprah makes strong use of this during her speeches. She is a powerful, influential figure, but also appears willing to connect sincerely with the people she is speaking to, be it one person or a crowd of thousands.”

 

Body Language - Palms Down Demonstrate Strong, Assertive Posture

Palms down

“The opposite movement can be viewed positively too—as a sign of strength, authority and assertiveness. Barack Obama has often used it to calm a crowd right after moments of rousing oration.”

This is why I record my clients on video. Sometimes they have no idea what they look like while they’re talking until they see what I shoot. It’s much easier to fix issues when you’re aware of them.

Try shooting video of yourself. How did you stand? How did you use your hands?

Positive body language could definitely help you become a more effective leader.

Would you like help? Please click here for a free strategy session on the phone or on Skype (so I can check out your body language).

Curse of the resting bitch face

“Smile.”

“Why don’t you smile more?”

“You’re so pretty when you smile.”

When I was younger, directors said it to me. Photographers. Bosses. Strangers on the street. My parents still do.

“Smile.”

Resting Bitch Face Media Training

My resting bitch face found in the wild while producing a show on Midway Airport in Chicago.

I speak at colleges often. Recently, at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communications, resting bitch face came up. Lots of people have it. I’m one of them.

I may look like I want to tear you apart, when actually, I’m singing Oh Happy Day in my head.

Those suffering from Resting Bitch Face (aka Bitchy Resting Face) are mostly women. You know someone afflicted with it. They may look vaguely annoyed, judgy and slightly bored.

I talk about resting bitch face when I coach women. It’s important to know if you have one. Especially when you’re interviewing for a job, speaking on stage or doing a media appearance.

Queen Elizabeth, Anna Kendrick, Victoria Beckham and Kanye all have it.

Here’s a little science behind it.

Jason Rogers and Abbe Macbeth, behavioral researchers with international research and innovation firm Noldus Information Technology, decided to investigate: Why are some faces off-putting? What, exactly, makes us register as RBF?

The researchers enlisted Noldus’s FaceReader, a sophisticated tool engineered to identify specific expressions based on a catalogue of more than 10,000 images of human faces. The software, which can examine faces through a live camera, a photograph or a video clip, maps 500 points on the human face, then analyzes the image and assigns an expression based on eight basic human emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt, and “neutral.”

One particular emotion that helps the reader’s response jump is contempt. The software measures the look of contempt in a face in subtle signals, like “one side of the lip pulled back slightly, the eyes squinting a little,” Rogers explained.

Or: “It’s kind of a tightening around the eyes, and a little bit of raising of the corners of the lips — but not into a smile,” Macbeth suggested.

The cues are understated, yet the machine detects and interprets them the same way our human brains do.

This is important. You may not know it – but your brain detects and interprets what it thinks someone is feeling or saying through their face.

It means – even though one thing is coming out of your mouth… the way your face LOOKS may determine how that person feels about you and what you’re saying.

Here’s the kicker.

Noldus’s FaceReader is software and therefore immune to gender bias. It detected RBF in male and female faces in equal measure. Which means that the idea of RBF as a predominantly female phenomenon has little to do with facial physiology and more to do with social norms.

Have you ever heard anyone tell a man to smile? It’s pretty rare for a man to have resting bitch face.

Smiling is expected from women far more than it’s expected from men.

“… there’s a lot of anecdotal articles and scientific literature on that. So RBF isn’t necessarily something that occurs more in women, but we’re more attuned to notice it in women because women have more pressure on them to be happy and smiley and to get along with others.” Macbeth said.

Worried you may have RBF?

What else could you be doing that you are not aware of right now that’s hurting you in interviews, public speaking and media appearances?

Let me help you. As a media coach and public speaking trainer, I help my clients with these issues.

I’d love to send you free tips like these regularly. Sign up for my media blasts here.

Why wait for someone to give it to you?

When I was about 35, I remember thinking about all the things I wanted to do, but was waiting for because they were things to do when “I get married.”  I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I hear a lot of women say things like, “I can’t wait to go to Paris (or insert some amazing city on their list) someday with someone special.”

I had the list of what I was waiting to do… but I also had a checklist of what I wanted for myself before I got married.

  1. Build a career I love (check)
  2. Buy my own home (check, did it twice)
  3. Get my own diamonds, before someone else does (check)

Why did I need to do those things for myself, while subconsciously, I still waited for other things – until I got married?

And, do we do the same thing when it comes to our careers?

Are you waiting for:

  • opportunities to do more public speaking?
  • training on how to deliver better in interviews?
  • video to show off your personality on social media, your website or LinkedIn?
  • guidance on how to perfect your personal appearance?
  • help to market yourself with a personal website?
  • someone to show you how to revamp your LinkedIn page?

Is there something else you’re waiting for today?

Maybe you think the next big promotion will give you those opportunities or your boss will pay for more training.

We all think the next move will give us more. But, what if it doesn’t?

What if the training you receive now, will help you land your next raise, promotion or title?

Recruiters tell the Graduate Management Admission Council that the top skills MBAs need are oral communication, listening and writing.

Hiring a media coach or a public speaking trainer benefits your career greatly, and if your company doesn’t reimburse you for the expense, it’s a tax write-off.

It’s a good idea to hone these skills now so when the spotlight shines on you with the opportunity to move up – you’re ready.

I can help you. Book your free consultation with me here.

In case you were wondering… here are three of the things I wanted to do once I got married:

  • KitchenAid Stand Mixer (don’t quite know what I’d do with it, but they work for girls like Giada)
  • Nespresso machine (espresso at home… delivered in a way even I can’t mess up… because coffee is a BIG deal to TV producers)
  • A week (or longer) eating, drinking and dancing my way through other countries

You can’t keep waiting until you’re married, make more money, or the market hits its “real bottom.”

You can’t wait to get media coaching or to revamp your LinkedIn or website.

Go get what you want now.

Book your free consultation with me here.

Will an employee tank your entire company this weekend?

People are fired for what they post or tweet in their off-hours. This is fact.

Your personal social media platforms are not really personal. Once hired – you represent your company.

A simple tweet can hurt the reputation of your company.

Not everyone understands. Do your employees?

This is something I help my clients navigate.

Most of the social media mistakes that have made headlines were preventable.

Do you have a plan? Do you have a company social media strategy?

Already have a social media strategy? Great! Have you TRAINED your employees?

When I helped create the social media platforms for NBC Chicago — and then helped other NBC stations across the country… we made sure to set up training sessions with all employees. From on-air to sales… we tried to guide everyone through what was at the time – new waters. It was still communicating with our audience — but it was in a very new way. There were new deadlines and rules. Training was key.

Your employees may not necessarily know what’s public and what’s private. This is very important to teach.

Oh, and here’s a big reason why you want to do social media training: once you train on it – it could make it easier to fire an employee when they do make the mistake. If you don’t do the training – they can claim they didn’t know. And, they didn’t, did they? You never told them…

Don’t get overwhelmed — this doesn’t have to be a day-long training. It’s a few hours with all employees – and it can be set up at different times so everyone can make it when it’s convenient for the company.

Have you already had issues with social media at your company? Can you imagine how much could have been prevented with the right training?

Remember — one wrong message on social media can make your company lose a lot of money. People question your hiring and the way you manage people. They’ll wonder if you’re that lax in other departments.

After reading this – don’t avoid creating a great digital brand through using social media because it could hurt you. That’s like not hiring anyone to work your storefront because you’re too afraid he’ll say the wrong thing.

You NEED social media but you NEED to use it the right way. It’s an art and science. It’s not a job for so-and-so’s “son who likes to mess around on Twitter.” This person should have a key strategy, marketing and communications role on your team.

The hire is one of the most important moves you can make.

Follow me on social media for more media training tips.

Did You Know this Investment in Yourself is a Tax Write-Off?

We’re just days away from tax day. You have three extra days this year to file your returns. The deadline is Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

If your business has anything to do with taxes… I’d be reaching out to your local media with different angles for TV, newspaper, radio and digital audiences. It’s not too late. Journalists need these stories now and it’s free advertising for you.

It’s also a good time to think about how to save money this year. Did you know there are many job-related costs that are tax write-offs?

Recruiters tell the Graduate Management Admission Council that the top skills MBAs need are oral communication, listening and writing.

If you have a customer-facing or board-facing job, invest in your personal appearance, market yourself with a personal website showing the advantages that come with you and create a LinkedIn page that reflects you best.

It’s also important to work on your public speaking and storytelling skills.

Hiring a media coach or a public speaking trainer benefits your career greatly, and if your company doesn’t reimburse you for the expense, it’s a tax write-off.

“The expenses don’t have to be required by your employer to be considered necessary. You make the call about whether an expense is necessary to do your job,” says Laura Adams, MBA, Money Girl.

Here are some other ways you can pay less taxes and save money legally from Laura Adams, MBA, Money Girl. (I was a TV producer for 20 years – and specifically the “money producer” at FOX Detroit for several years – so giving tax tips is in my blood.)

  1. Adjust your tax withholding. If you get excited about receiving a big tax refund each year, that may be a sign that you need to adjust your tax withholding. Getting a refund means you overpaid tax during the previous year by giving too much money to the IRS.
  2.  Start a business. No matter if you want to create a tech startup that revolutionizes the world or just do a little freelancing work on the side, having a business is a great way to shelter more of your money from taxes. If you start building websites, selling skincare or offering services as a virtual assistant, business expenses might include the cost of a computer, accounting software, and office furniture. If you’re an Uber or Lyft driver you could deduct a portion of your car payment, insurance, and cell phone bills. I have two businesses. Let me know if you need help with this one… I have gone through the startup process and can help you.
  3. Take the home office deduction. If you operate a business from home, you’re eligible for even more money-saving tax deductions. You can claim a home office deduction whether you rent or own your home and no matter if it’s a full- or part-time venture.
  4. Contribute to retirement accounts. One of the best ways to protect your income from taxes and accumulate wealth for the future at the same time is to contribute to one or more retirement accounts.
  5. Contribute to medical savings accounts.  A flexible spending arrangement (FSA) can only be offered by employers. Anyone who has a qualified high deductible health plan, through an employer or on your own, is eligible for a health savings account (HSA). It’s like an FSA, except that it doesn’t have a spending deadline. Both accounts shelter your out-of-pocket medical expenses from taxes. Check out IRS Publication 969 for more information.

Many traits in demand by companies, like public speaking, storytelling and personal branding, are not taught in school or by your company.

Do you get stuck when writing about yourself on LinkedIn? Are you having trouble telling the story of what you did for each company?

Do you freeze a little when you need to speak in front of larger or even small groups?

You can learn how to be better at public speaking.

You can learn how to tell the story of your career online, in your resume – or during a job interview.

I can help you.

I’m the media coach and public speaking trainer who helps people present at a higher level, tell their story to attract dream clients or to gain media attention.

Confidentiality is everything.

I am discreet. Most clients don’t talk about me… but you’ll notice a change in them after I work with them. Book your free consultation with me here.

By the way… if you still need help with your taxes, this is my guy. He’s great.

What United Airlines Should Have Done to Avoid the PR & Media Crisis

By now, you’ve seen the videos.
You’ve heard the news reports.
You’ve read all your friends’ posts on Facebook about what they say United Airlines and the doctor should have done Sunday.
I’ve been on the phone for the past 24-hours with people asking me what should have been done and how I can help the doctor.
As of this writing, the doctor has been hospitalized and has a lawyer helping him take care of his family and professional reputation. I hope he recovers physically and mentally. What happened to him was inhumane.
The story is global and it’s especially bad in China. Media there is all over this story because of the doctor’s ethnicity. It’s not good for United because the airline is targeting the country for air travel growth. China is just the world’s fastest growing major aviation market.
Was this all preventable? Yes.
Here is how critical thinking and communication skills could have been used to prevent this media and public relations crisis. Review and keep in mind in case something (hopefully on a much smaller scale) happens at your company.
  1. No one should have been boarded if the flight was still over-booked. Not boarding people is a lot easier than boarding and then asking four people to remove themselves. It was a Sunday before the start of the work week. Everyone had to be somewhere else. Don’t leave it up to volunteers if you’re not going to raise the stakes.
  2. United should have offered a higher voucher amount. Another step up in airline dollars may have garnered more volunteers. To my knowledge, they had not yet hit the maximum they are allowed to go. Throwing another $1200 ($300-$400 more for each passenger) at the problem would have saved them the millions they are losing today.
  3. If that doesn’t work, bounce people at the gate using the carrier rules we all agree to when we purchase a ticket. Airlines are allowed to do what they did – just not in the way they did. They can start with those who checked in last and bump those flying on the cheapest tickets. From what I’ve read, medical personnel heading somewhere to treat patients are not supposed to be bumped.
  4. If all that STILL didn’t work, drive your employees or offer to drive the passengers. Chicago is not THAT far from Louisville. A road trip is a lot easier than saying sorry and paying millions when you bloody a passenger.
Obviously, United didn’t do this… and that’s why we’re talking about them.
What could they have done AFTER their mistakes Sunday to avoid this media storm? Here’s a list that you can copy if you have a communications crisis:
  1. Get out in front of the story IMMEDIATELY. You KNOW there is video. There is ALWAYS video.
  2. Get the CEO on TV right away Sunday night or first thing Monday morning to publicly apologize. In this news conference the CEO should say:
    • the company messed up (and deliver this genuinely)
    • there will be an investigation
    • they are going to make this right with the family
    • how they will change their future policies to make sure this does not happen again
    • and assure the public that they are safe doing business with their company.
  3. Publicly make a donation to a group that gives scholarships to future Asian-American doctors who want to further their education.
  4. By today, three days after the crisis, they’re back to the friendly skies.
As a spokesperson and communications director for a major law enforcement agency, this is what we did when there was a crisis. I wrote our communications strategy. It’s not always easy to do — but it’s easier than handling the PR crisis that comes later if you don’t follow a good crisis communications plan.
So what about the doctor’s past history that I keep reading about today? Does that have anything to do with all this? No.
No one should be treated this way on a plane heading home to treat their patients – or to do anything else.
There’s a lot of rumblings going on that United Airlines leaked the doctor’s personal history to the media to deflect what they did Sunday. Could have been the airline – and it could have been investigative journalists. No matter what, it shouldn’t make us feel that he deserved this kind of treatment. He didn’t. Nor did his wife.
What we all should remember is, we can avoid this from happening inside our companies. Think through the actions and the consequences when you have an internal communications crisis. Five minutes of going through “what’s the absolutely worst thing that can happen if we do this?” can save you millions and a lot of bad media and PR.
Are you ready for YOUR story to be on TV in the right way? Book your free consultation with me here. As a media coach, I’ll help you craft your story to make it newsworthy.
Oh, and if you have no idea what this story is about, here’s how to get caught up with the news quickly every morning. 

Are you ready to go live on TV twice in one morning?

It’s live TV. A lot could have happened.
More U.S. missile strikes in Syria.
A major storm on the day of the Chicago Cubs home opener (actually, it’s pouring here in Chicago as I write this, but it should clear up in time for the first pitch).
You can spend weeks, even months preparing your talking points and building relationships with your favorite TV shows to get your story on the air. After all that work – you’re cancelled.
Breaking news can take over your TV segment, leaving you to pray you’re rebooked in the future. It happens all the time.
Something else can happen. Something amazing.
Someone else can cancel or not show up in time — and the producers are left with time in the show to fill.
You’re there and you’re ready to go on again. Yes… you’re going live on TV again. Twice in one morning. More free advertising for your company. Would you want that kind of TV coverage?
Lots of people would be freaked out trying to figure out what in the world they’ll talk about. They don’t prepare for this kind of opportunity.
But you’re ready – prepared for anything.
That’s what happened this morning.
Here’s a live look behind the scenes inside the Chicago TV studio this morning:
I set this segment up for the wine company, Cellar Angels, based in Chicago.
This is exactly why I coach my media clients to be ready for anything. You never know what will happen in live TV – but since I’ve been a TV producer for 20 years… I have a pretty good idea how to deal with anything that will come your way. It’s why I’m successful as a media trainer.
Cellar Angels partnered with the nonprofit, Illinois Patriot Education Fund. I’m on the charity’s advisory board and look for media opportunities to promote them. We raise money so members of Illinois military families can go to college. Here’s how to donate.
Illinois Patriot Education Fund
Thank you to the producers at WCIU TV for booking my segment this morning. Here it is if you’d like to watch it. The producers are total pros. When the other segment was cancelled – the segment producer moved quickly and effortlessly to get my guests back on set ready to go live. Thank you… you know who you are 😉
Are you ready for YOUR story to be on TV? Book your free consultation with me here. As your media coach, I’ll help you craft your story to make it newsworthy.

When You Can’t Buy Coffee

It was six o’clock on a Sunday morning and I raced out of bed to buy coffee.

I wanted to beat the others.

You see, I tried Saturday, but the line was WAY too long. It was down the street. In my opinion, no coffee is worth standing in that kind of line.

My strategy of going Sunday morning before everyone else hit the streets paid off. There’s was no line and I sipped my grande dry almond milk cappuccino in peace. Well, along with a pain au chocolat with crème d’amande from the very French bakery next door, Le Panier. I will dream of those for a long time.Breakfast at Starbucks

I was in Seattle, drinking coffee made at the first ever Starbucks. Now, if I could just run into one of my favorite 90s grunge bands, my day would be made.

While my husband didn’t understand, I wanted to see if it tasted different. If it stood out. If it was anything special.

It was good. Okay, it was delicious. But, it was really the location and experience that made this a great cappuccino.

When I travel – I always have a list of things I want to see. For our trip to Seattle, I wanted to listen to the music of my high school/college years, see the Space Needle, shop Pike Place Market and have coffee in the first Starbucks. Okay, I see you rolling your eyes over there. I know, it’s just giving more money to this gigantic corporation — but, it’s also a piece of our pop culture. To me, it’s worth seeing.Seattle Starbucks Coffee

In the news biz, coffee is a big deal. I worked on TV morning news shows for longer than I’d like to admit. You work so early in the morning (or late at night) that coffee is your fuel. The problem is, unless you brew it yourself, it’s REALLY hard to get good quality coffee before work. The coffee shops are all closed and McDonald’s, as good as this piece in Business Insider says it’s coffee is getting … doesn’t sell coffee that early in the morning. Seriously.

You’d think it would be no problem. Roll into a McDonald’s drive-thru around 2am on a Wednesday morning, grab a McCafe, don’t burn yourself, and head into work.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

I found that no matter how many drive-thrus I tried, it was downright impossible to buy coffee at McDonald’s at that time of the day. I tried several of them around Chicago, but would often get the same story: “This is when we clean our machines.”

So, yeah, no coffee at 2am as I headed into NBC or WGN … or any of the other stations in which I worked.

Seattle Starbucks Coffee

Peering past my coffee at the Pike Place Market street sign.

As morning producers, we all knew what time Starbucks opened in the morning. It was too late to launch us into our shifts – but it was just in time to get us through the second half of our hours spent turning out stories each morning.

There are TV news producers all over the country right now who know my order well. They were my interns at one point – and know that if they made the run, they got free “whatever you want” on my Starbucks gold card. Oh, and they also learned that in the United States, these kinds of stories are always a hit.

When we stayed late for trainings or station meetings – there were always boxes of coffee there too. By then, 9 hours into a shift… you’re pretty sick of coffee, and your stomach is a mess from all the acid… but you still drink.

Seattle to me will always be where Pearl Jam came from – but, after 20 years in the TV news business,  I wanted to pay homage to the first of the many Starbucks I’ve sat in, ran through, drove through, had meetings in, ate in, worked in… and also was introduced to many singer/songwriters in for the first time. It’s also the place that introduced me to Kind Bars. Yummm… often my breakfast and lunch for weeks. I eventually ended up buying them by the case from Amazon.

Starbucks is also reliable. No matter where you’re driving across the United States, you know what they’ll have when you stop there. You know the coffee will be good and there will be snacks. A variety of them. Have you had the new sous vide egg bites. Holy cow those are good. Thank you, Starbucks, for finally making something delicious that’s not wrapped in bread.

I don’t normally eat at chain restaurants, but as someone who fueled herself on coffee for her entire career – I was happy to be in Seattle to see where it all started.

 

PS: I’m looking forward to going back to Seattle this summer. The new Pike Place MarketFront expansion opens June 29. The expansion will return farmers and producers to the site. 30k square feet of open public space, a public plaza and viewing deck with expansive views of the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and Puget Sound!