Silver Linings in a Pandemic

I miss my mom.

And yes, even though we may bicker when we’re together, I really miss my sisters.

I felt very guilty on Easter morning for feeling lonely. For missing my family. How can you feel lonely if your house is full?

I still did.

I screwed up the pierogis.

I’ve never made them. I kind of watched when I was younger, but I didn’t really pay attention. Besides, my mom and sisters were good at them — so I didn’t need to learn. Someone else always hosts Easter.

  1. I’ve been 100% gluten-free for a few years now, and I needed a gluten-free version.
  2. I don’t own a rolling pin. Which I realized the night before Easter.

The lack of a rolling pin didn’t end up to be an issue.
A long bottle of potato vodka sitting in my cupboard served fine as a rolling pin.

It was the dough. It wasn’t pliable. It cracked when I used it.

I was a failure at my first pierogi.

Now, I wasn’t so upset that I ended up hitting the vodka at 9am… but for the first time during this pandemic lockdown, I felt really lonely. It was Sunday morning. Easter morning. I just finished “virtual church” — and I wasn’t going to be with my family. The sausage never came because I couldn’t get a Whole Foods Prime delivery window (tried for a week) — and I failed at making pierogi.

When I called my mom, she didn’t say what I thought she would… that I should have had a rolling pin or should have just not made them because the gluten-free flour would never make them right… instead she said:

“Kathryn, just like you tell your clients, practice practice practice. Whether you’re up on stage or trying a new recipe, you can’t expect yourself to be perfect the first time. Try again in a few days.”

And it was then that I realized the silver lining.

I could try again.

I had two of my executive coaching clients last week who told me they will never “get it.” That they will never be able to give a good media interview or deliver their speech on stage without having the “fear of $%$#& up.” One client said he was afraid he’d let his company down.

They don’t have to be a failure (I won’t let them).

And this pierogi deal didn’t have to be my Easter failure.

It could be just the start of my journey of perfecting my pierogi recipe.

Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chicago said this during her online sermon this Easter weekend: look for the silver linings.

I could try again and succeed.

You may also have seen the silver linings lately.

As Rev. Kara pointed out, there are many, but we have to look for them.

In our neighborhood, we can hear the birds chirping much more now because there’s less traffic.

Babies and dogs are spending more time with their parents now.

And maybe another silver lining is I may learn how to make pierogi.

I just can’t give up.

And neither should you.

How to look your best on video conference calls

People around the world are finding themselves working and conducting media interviews from home for the first time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing many to move their in-person meetings to video conferencing on platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting. It’s also changing the media landscape. Interviews that used to be done from a studio are now being shot in experts’ living rooms, offices and kitchens.

As a media and public speaking trainer, I teach executives who need to do interviews on TV stations worldwide through video conferencing and who need to reach other live audiences through their computer screen. During my executive coaching sessions, I show them how to represent their business and themselves professionally and also make sure their message sticks with their audiences.

You can make a good impression through video conferencing platforms as long as you have a few specific things in place. 

Create a background that isn’t distracting

The key to speaking on stage, in the media, in your videos, during live video conferencing and in job interviews is to keep the audience focused on your message and nothing else. Take a look at the wall or space behind you and make sure nothing behind you is distracting. Look for light switches, outlets, open doors, open windows, and anything else that could be distracting. You want people to remember your content and message, and if there’s a very obvious picture or book behind you that grabs the viewers focus — remove it. You don’t want anything in the  background distract from your message, or worse, offend your audience.

Good lighting is your best friend

When you are selling your company, your brand, a product or service – you want to be seen in the best light. Literally and figuratively. When you show up in a media interview or in a meeting and you are poorly lit or there are lots of shadows on your face, the audience can subconsciously feel like you’re hiding something. That you can’t be trusted. The majority of your message is your physical content. This is why what you do and your appearance is just as important, if not more, that what you say. Lighting is vital to the way you appear on the screen. Make sure there are no windows behind you. The lighting needs to be in front of you. Natural light from a window is the best. If you don’t have a room that works for this, use soft lighting from a lamp and place it right in front of you without creating shadows from your monitor or phone. I’ve used this light from Amazon for years. It’s under $100 and many of my clients use it for their media interviews. 

Make eye contact with the camera

Just like in person, you want to make great eye contact with your audience. When you’re video conferencing, this can be tough. The software will show you speaking on your monitor, along with the person interviewing you – or all the people you’re talking to on the call. This can create a lot of distractions for you. The key here is to make sure when you are talking, you look into the camera on your computer or phone. When you look directly into the camera, you will be appearing as if you’re looking right into the eyes of your audience. This takes practice to get it down and not let your eyes wander off and look at all the other people on the call. Why is this so important? When you let your eyes move from person to person or somewhere else in your room, you may appear to be insincere, detached, uninterested, insecure and even shifty. Make time to practice good eye contact. You do not want to portray the message that you don’t care about the meeting or interview.

Be camera ready

Working from home means you may not have to put a lot of focus on what you’re wearing on your lower half, but you need to make sure that from waist up, you’re all business. Take the time before an on camera meeting to do your hair, makeup and wear something that is not too distracting. For on camera media interviews through video conferencing, my clients normally have their makeup and hair professionally done. During a pandemic, you can’t hire someone to come to your house to get that done. There are many consultants who can talk you through this virtually right now. Our team of makeup and hair stylists is doing this for our clients. If you don’t have a professional to help you, make sure you look well-rested, alert, your skin looks healthy and your best features are emphasized. Since you want your audience to lock-in with your eyes and trust you – make sure your eyes are not blocked by extra hair and eyeglass frames that don’t fit your face properly. A lot of professionals are balancing children at home and working — so both men and women can benefit from a little concealer under their eyes. Make sure your hair isn’t distracting and falling into your face during your calls and try not to adjust your hair or touch your face while you’re on camera. When it comes to wardrobe, it’s better to wear a solid color or something that’s not as distracting. If you have a bold or quirky personality and you love bright colors and patterns, it’s okay to be yourself, just make sure you don’t distract from the conversation.

Position the camera at eye level

Before you jump on a call, make sure the audience will not be looking up your nose or at your ceiling. We’ve seen a lot of these kinds of calls and interviews! Make sure you’re going to appear to your audience at the angle they’re used to seeing you from across a table. Adjust your computer so it’s at eye level by adding books or something else to raise the computer up a little. Sit upright, in the front half of your chair, and look alert. Do not swivel. Again, you want to pretend like you’re making eye contact with the people on your video conference, so make sure you adjust your computer accordingly so you can look right into the camera when you’re speaking. 

Be heard! (and sometimes silent)

If you’re in a virtual meeting with a lot of other people, mute yourself when you’re not talking. You may have kids and/or pets at home right now and a spouse working from home. This is the time to learn how to effectively mute yourself when you’re not talking so the speaker is heard clearly. Also, make sure you shut off your notifications. You don’t want to hear your computer or phone dinging throughout. You also could be taking notes during the call, and you don’t want the sound of your fingers tapping away to distract the others.

Working from home also means creating barriers between your home and the “office.” Make sure to create a good system that will keep you happy, successful and sane during this (hopefully) short period of time where most of us need to work from home.

  • Sleep at least eight hours a night. Working from home can create some unhealthy habits like working at all hours of the day/night. Make sure you are getting your personal time to recharge and you’re sleeping. Showing up as your best during video calls and media interviews online while you’re not rested can be a big gamble. You need to be able to answer questions thoughtfully and think quickly. You need sleep for optimal brain function.
  • Shower every single day. Start your day with a shower and do your normal morning and evening routines. This will keep you alert and productive. Plus, you need to look good on camera!
  • Create 10-15 minute breaks between large blocks of meetings. Stretch, go to the bathroom and eat. You cannot show up looking healthy, trustworthy and likeable on camera if you’re dehydrated, are not sleeping, and you’re hungry.

While working remotely might be a bit of an adjustment, we’re here to help you feel confident and make sure your message sticks with your audience and makes them ACT.

How to get into college or land an internship without an expensive admissions scheme

That’s the advice and strategy I received before I headed into a local community college in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to take my ACT.

My father said those words to me as he dropped me off.

I know my dad – this was not his normal supportive dad advice.

I am sure I was having a typical 16-year-old snotty teen girl day. Quite sure I was also running late.

The point is, I was not coddled.

I walked in scared to death.

My parents didn’t have the money to bribe proctors — and I’m 100% sure they wouldn’t have even if they had the cash.

I didn’t get a car as a 16-year old birthday present.

They didn’t sell my Girl Scout cookies for me so I could be the state winner.

They wanted us to be self-sufficient. To earn what we got.

I took the ACT once.

It wasn’t my sister’s perfect score, but it was enough to get me into the schools I applied to in 1993.

Even back then, it was a helluva competition.

It’s obviously worse now… and I have no idea what it will be like when my daughter goes to college in 18 years.

The news this week about the college admissions scheme is alarming – but definitely not shocking.

When it first broke, I shared the headline on Twitter but gave the moms in the center of the story the benefit of the doubt. I thought, maybe they didn’t know? Maybe Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin paid this guy — and said, get my child in — and that was that.

How to get into college or land an internship without an expensive admissions scheme


I thought they possibly didn’t know the tactics taken by William Singer, the head of the college preparatory business and founder of the charity who is identified now as “cooperating witness 1.”

Hours later, as more information was released, we learned from the New York Times that Huffman and William H. Macy knew this college prep coach would “arrange for their daughter’s SAT proctor to secretly correct her wrong answers and boost her score.” And that, “Huffman and her spouse agreed to the plan.”

Earlier this year, in an interview with Macy in Parade Magazine, he said, “we’re in the thick of college application time, which is so stressful.”

That, I can relate to. Not the bribing part.

Parents track me down on LinkedIn sometimes to help their teenaged and 20-something children get into prized college internships and med schools.

We are very proud to have a 100% track record in college and internship interview success.

We don’t bribe these schools. My company helps these students interview better. The students put in the work — and together, we formulate better answers to their questions, help them gain more confidence in their interviewing, show them which parts of their stories to tell and which parts are superfluous.

This is the kind of consulting from which your student can really benefit.

How do they benefit from having all the doors opened for them?

How will they learn to open their own doors someday?

We started by advising and preparing executives for media interviews and public speaking, but it grew in the past years to include young adults. Internships are getting more and more competitive. So are medical schools. Some of the highest-ranked institutions in the U.S. News Best Medical Schools rankings accept less than 4 percent of applicants.

Storytelling is key to interviewing for colleges and internships. Your ability to communicate sets you apart and helps you standout from others competing for the same spots.

From a student’s confidence, verbal delivery and body language to their social media presence, we work on the whole picture. Parents are very appreciate of the social media advice we give to their sons and daughters. Parents know how important it is — but breaking news… sometimes, kids don’t listen to their parents.

Many first interviews for college internships are now conducted on Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts. We show students how to interview virtually and how to make the best impression. We teach how to frame their shot, what to wear, where to look and how to light themselves so they look the best possible.

We don’t do the work for these students — but we help them find their strengths, poise and confidence to help them present and interview better.

That’s the best way we know how to help a student land the college they dream of — or the internship that will start their career in the strongest way possible.

New Writer & Column in the Chicago Sun Times

Have you heard Shia Kapos (of Crain’s Chicago Business fame) is now with The Chicago Sun-Times?

Check out her new column “Taking Names.” It launched this month. Shia featured my story of finding Mr. (Ted) Wright in Chicago (on a dating site) & our Florida wedding. As a media coach – my job is to help people look and perform the BEST when they’re in the media… so it’s a little weird to be asked for MY story.

Here’s the wedding story:

Nice mentions for Chicago’s Nuts on Clark, The Franklin Room, Mike Potts, Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos, Emily Henderson, Robert Deason, Alan James & The British Photographer – Photography (oh, and the OkCupid dating site). Thanks Shia!

Here’s what I’m using to keep my Florida beach wedding glow. Who wants one? I’m placing a bulk order TODAY! $25, no tax, no shipping, no commitment. Get 2 for $45!♨️ Message me ASAP!

People love this self-tanner, including the beauty editors over at Marie Claire who rave that it “gives you more than a glow.” It also treats your skin with vitamins A, C, and E for antioxidant protection. This is a must before you take any professional pictures, go on TV – hit the stage… or hit up a family reunion. 37f191090a852f9185195e069d77b73c

Do you have a media appearance soon? Getting on stage or have an important interview? Click here to learn how to improve body language, increase engagement, perfect your pitch and make sure your audience retains your message.

It’s Not Only What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Public speaking isn’t just when you get on stage. You’re using public speaking skills (or not using them) when you’re in front of any customer, employee or team. When we practice our public speaking – it’s rarely on a stage in front of thousands.

Hiring managers – and managers who train employees – don’t always take this skill into consideration. Just as important as it is for your employees to know the company culture, history, menu, services, software, offerings, sales, new promotions — they must know the company’s “voice” and how to use it in public when around clients, vendors, potential donors and customers.

The way your employees speak to customers is very important. It’s not just the content — but it’s also in the delivery.

They may know the menu – and all the ingredients… but how does your wait staff talk to your customers? How do they greet them? How do they handle (in their voice reflection) when there is an issue?

I witnessed really good public speaking training during my honeymoon. We stayed at Lauberge de SedonaThe hotel is a spa resort … and the staff’s delivery matched the tone of the resort. This is so important.

It was at the front desk where I noticed this first… then at dinner that night.

Along the creek, the service staff spoke in hushed tones while they intricately described each dish, asked what kind of water we wanted, or brought new silverware. The sound and delivery was seamless. This was definitely their intention.

I would have ordered pretty much anything from our waiter that Saturday night. His delivery made you imagine that each dish was that smooth and tasty — and that the ingredients would make you feel as velvety and calm as his words were as they fell upon your ears.

And that’s the point. Sales, marketing – developing content. In order to do this and get the most bang for your buck – you need to make sure your delivery is perfected.

Their speaking voices didn’t detract from the sound of the creek running next to the tables… instead, their voices amplified the feeling of nature that surrounded us.

When at the bar inside, there was no clanking of glasses or raised voices calling attention to another staff member. They always walked to the employee to speak to them – never shouting.

The valets never honked, whistled or raised their voices when trying to get the attention of another valet. They still softly jogged (sometimes ran) to get cars — but their voices never interrupted the sound of the birds in the trees. It was so perfectly orchestrated. They were highly efficient, but without loud noises accompanying the efficiency.

We were supposed to stay just three nights and fly to LA next, but we stayed. We stayed there because of the feeling we had… and that feeling was created by their people. Their well trained people.

It’s something you can’t always tell about a company by reading their website. We didn’t know how much we’d enjoy the resort until we arrived. Their location and offerings attract customers — but I found out while there, that many people are return guests. That’s where their staff and training comes in. I’ve left or not done repeat business with companies because of unfortunate training of staffs. Lauberge’s people make customers want to become repeat guests.

Do you need help with public speaking? Your staff’s public speaking? I teach how to tell your story online, on video, on stage and in the media. I work on your messaging, delivery, body language, and appearance. Let me know how I can help. Click here to book time with me.




Producing the Best You


You’re an expert in your industry.

You’re smart and you worked hard to get where you are right now.

You’ve seen other people in your industry used as an expert in the media.

You’ve seen the interviews on TV. You know, with the right training – you could be on TV or quoted in a magazine article.

Portrait Session

You have a story to tell – but you don’t know how to get the attention from the media.

You want to learn how to present better in public – how to tell your company’s story – and keep the interest of your audience.

You need someone to show you what to wear, how to speak more passionately and how to deliver your message in a way that will stay with your audience. Maybe even call a few TV stations to land you appearances.

That’s exactly what I do.

Kathryn interviewing World War II veteran, Delton “Wally” Walling, at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii (2015)

Kathryn interviewing a World War II veteran at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii (2015)

I’m Kathryn Janicek. I’m the media coach and public speaking trainer people reach out to when they want help presenting at a higher level, telling their story to attract dream clients – or to gain media attention.


I spent 18 years in media across the United States, coaching talent, producers and writers before switching my focus to helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives move up in their careers – and how to sound and look like the expert that’s inside of them.



63ddb859-0af7-4a51-98d0-ceb078536384I use my experience in media, coaching talent and writing stories that make people take action — and use it all to produce the best YOU.

I interview you to dig up your story, find out what about you will turn on the media – and give you a strategy on how to achieve your media and public speaking goals.

Email me, tweet me, Facebook me… let’s start working together.