In Praise of Old School

Photo credit: Eric Rothermel,

Photo credit: Eric Rothermel,

“I can’t believe you still use an old-fashioned calendar,” my friend said. “You realize that you could use your phone, even your computer instead.” Yes, of course I realize that. I choose to roll “Old School” when it comes to calendars, though.

As a Baby Boomer, technology hasn’t come easily to me. I wasn’t born with a mobile device or a computer in my hands like Generations Y or Z. Don’t get me wrong. I own an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, and of course, a MacBook Pro. I have my social media accounts. I use some favorite apps. But my calendar? I’m simply old-fashioned.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for all of us. You have your way of doing things. I have my way of doing things. It’s called choice. We are all entitled to it, and we all take advantage of doing things our way. If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you said to another person, “What we have here is a failure to communicate,” often, the “failure” in communicating is simply not understanding why people do things the way they do. We expect everyone to behave exactly as we do, yet, we know that’s not just improbable, it’s impossible.

The key to understanding others is this: We learn in different ways, the most common being Visual (see it), Auditory (hear it), and Kinesthetic (experience or feel it).

In my case, I’m a Visual Kinesthetic. That means that I learn best when seeing and experiencing something new. With my calendar, my Visual and Kinesthetic needs are both fulfilled. Visual: The calendar sits on my desk, so I see it every day (without having to boot up my cell phone or turn on my computer). Kinesthetic: Writing information in the calendar is a physical action that allows me to remember much better. Because an electronic calendar resides on my laptop or my phone, I can go for days without “seeing” it. I never miss appointments because I see my calendar sitting on my desk.

Auditory learners don’t need to write things down as much as Kinesthetic learners do. Don’t fret if Jane isn’t taking notes at a meeting; chances are, she is Auditory and will remember every word she heard. And yes, she remembers the words to every song she has ever heard.

If you work with – or live with – someone who does things differently from you, don’t try to change them to your behavior. Instead, understand that they are behaving that way because they are wired that way. If Bob needs to leave himself a Post-It Note as a reminder to file a document the following day, leave Bob be. It works for him.

Observe your team members. See if you can figure out who is a Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic learner. Once you realize how they are wired, you will be able to tailor your message to them. You’ll be happy. They’ll be happy. You’ll also find that productivity goes up when you don’t try to change other people to your learning style.

What Every Presenter Can Learn From Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes Speech

75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Season 75At this year’s Golden Globe Awards event, which was held on January 7, 2018, Oprah Winfrey delivered the speech of a lifetime, as the recipient of the Cecile B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement for her accomplished career in television and movies.

This was no ordinary acceptance speech. Her presentation – both in content and delivery – is one that will endure over time as one of the most powerful of its kind, as you can see on video or listen to on Spotify. It was an opportunity for Oprah to use her dedicated time on the platform to share an important message: “Time’s Up,” a movement begun by women in the entertainment industry to draw attention to and give voice to the pervasive societal issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Women attending the Golden Globes event chose to wear black as a visual symbol of their unity and support of Time’s Up. Refreshingly, red carpet interviews with celebrities focused on the Times Up message rather than couture dresses. Time better spent.

Here’s what made Oprah’s speech so successful and why college professors and speech coaches will be referencing it for years to come:

Attention getting. Oprah opened with an anecdote from her childhood. She remembered at that young age watching television, as an Oscar award for best actor was presented to Sidney Poitier, a black man who served as a positive role model for her. Her story tapped into the emotion of the audience.

Clarity of message. In my presentation skills programs, I remind participants to make their message meaningful and memorable through clarity. Oprah’s message did just that. She communicated her intent clearly and concisely.

Relevance. A message must be relevant to the needs of the audience. In this case, an audience of millions, from ordinary everyday people to celebrities. Her powerful message resonated with people across cultures and socio-economic classes because the time had come to speak openly about an otherwise hushed subject.

Intentional intonation. A good orator uses the voice as an instrument and masters vocal variety. Oprah’s words, so eloquently prepared and delivered, were shared with perfect emphasis and volume.

Use of stories. Stories create an emotional connection with the audience. Oprah shared several stories and personal anecdotes, about her childhood, her hard-working mother, and stories of inspirational female luminaries like Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks.

Selfless content. Oprah’s speech wasn’t about her; it was about a critical societal issue far greater. Audiences often complain about self-centered presenters, saying “All he did was talk about himself. Blah, blah, blah.” Oprah gave voice to a persistent problem in our society, and elevated her message to rise above the ordinary.

Inspiration. Her powerful words provided inspiration to millions of women and girls to speak openly and truthfully about sexually harassment and sexual assault. Those words provided inspiration to all who listened, including men who play an important part in making voices heard. To any disenfranchised people whose voices have gone unheard or who have ever been violated, undervalued or under appreciated in any way there was a recognition that their voices too were being heard.

Power-packed ending. The energy in the room exploded when Oprah emphatically began building her closing remarks with the statement, “A new day is on the horizon…”

So many people were openly inspired and motivated that Oprah’s acceptance speech immediately started a speculative buzz about whether she would consider running for President in 2020. To borrow one of Oprah’s signature phrases, “This I know for sure”…Words really do have power, tremendous power. Words can spark curiosity, command attention, and motivate others to take action. Words can take you to places where you never before imagined or dreamed.


In what way can you incorporate more power into your presentations?

How can you better motivate and inspire others to take action?

Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater, NBC News

Pause and Reflect With Powerful Questions

Photo credit: Glenn-Carson Peters,

Photo credit: Glenn Carsten-Peters,

Happy New Year, and welcome to a year of possibilities. Regardless of how 2017 ended for you, the benefit of turning that calendar page to a new year is that you have an entire year ahead of you, ready for planning and action. Here are a series of questions to keep you focused and engaged in making 2018 a productive and meaningful year for you.

First, Take a Brief Look Back

While it’s not often healthy to dwell in the past, it is helpful to take stock and summarize how the past year went for you.

What were the high points of the year?

What did you do extremely well?

In what areas did you exceed your own expectations?

Did you meet or exceed your goals?

What were the top three lessons you learned from your experiences? (Include both career and life experiences)

Who provided you with valuable mentoring or coaching expertise and guidance?

If you could use one word to sum up 2017 for you, what word would it be?

Now, Look at This Moment Only

After you have reflected on the year that has just passed, now turn your attention to this moment…right now, today. Don’t even look at or think about tomorrow yet. Answer a few simple questions:

How are you feeling about yourself, your life, right now? (Good? Not so good? Not sure?)

If you could choose to do anything at this very moment, what would it be? (Is it something you usually do or rarely do?)

What are you most grateful for today? (Do you feel this way every day? Sometimes? Never?)

What person(s) are you coming into contact with today, and why? (Are there positive or negative feelings attached to that person/those people?)

In what way are you living your core values today?

What one word best describes your attitude today?

Last, Take a Look Ahead

Good for you. You have summarized the past year. You have taken a moment to value and appreciate how you’re feeling today. Now the fun begins…the future! The thing about life is, even if you have planned out everything in the finest detail, there are going to be unexpected twists, turns and events that can postpone or sidetrack your goals. How resilient or flexible will you be when that happens? How long will it take for you to get back on track?

Looking out across the next 12 months, what is the one big goal that you want to achieve this year?

If you took that big goal and divided it into 12 smaller chunks (by month), what would your plan look like?

Example: If your goal is to write a book (which is a big goal; I speak from experience), then what steps do you need to take between now (no book) to then (finished product in your hands)?

What resources will you need to accomplish your goals?

What mentoring or coaching services would you need to help you meet your goals?

Looking at December, 2018, if you were to look back on the year that has just passed, what would you like to say about your accomplishments?

I hope these questions have helped you to put into perspective the year that just passed, where you are today, and where you would like to be in 2018. May it be one of your best years ever.