At Penzeys Spices, Kindness Rules

KindPinI have never met Bill, yet, I look forward to receiving and reading his frequent emails. He is one person who is changing the world one email at a time.

You see, Bill is the CEO of Penzeys Spices, a purveyor of herbs, spices and all things gastronomic. Not only is he passionate about cooking; he is passionate about being kind to others.

Bill is not your average CEO. He is way above average, a CEO who understands what it means to pay it forward. I wish more company leaders provided an environment of love, support, and kindness. Imagine the level of true prosperity that we could experience as a society.

Being a fan of Penzeys Spices, I – like many smart gourmandes – signed up for the email list for free spices, offers, recipes, and other goodies. What I received in return was a newly-acquired taste for goodness. I’m not talking about just gourmet goodness…I’m talking about simple human goodness.

Bill is a good guy. The goodness he shares comes from his world view, his spirit, and his written word which appears in Penzeys Spices emails.

The one email that got my attention was Bill’s offer to send a free Kind pin (pictured within this article) to anyone who marched in The Women’s March on Saturday, January 21, 2017. As you recall, this national spirited March attracted unprecedented numbers of women, men, and children in Washington, D.C. who had a strong desire to share their voices with the world. And this March happened not just in cities across the United States; it happened globally, in cities around the world. The voices of the masses shared positive messages of hope, compassion, joy, love, understanding, peace, acceptance, and kindness.

In return for the free Kind pin, Bill requested that marchers share their personal stories of why they marched, and any kindness that they experienced or witnessed that day. In an email, Bill said, “I believe history will show just how important The Women’s March was, and just how great of a debt we owe those who Marched. Their humanity, kindness, and strength were just the reminder we needed of what really makes America great, at the very moment we so desperately needed to be reminded.” In total, Penzeys Spices shipped 174,139 free Kind pins to people who participated in The Women’s March.

What Bill – and Penzeys Spices – did through his generosity and act of kindness was to remind us that true change begins with one simple idea that is put into action. Thank you, Bill, for being a positive role model and inspiring others.

What type of change do you want to initiate? Get started today!

Photo credit: Christine Zust

Women’s Voices Are Significant to the World

iwd-logomain2Today marks International Women’s Day, one day each year that celebrates the “social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.” This year’s theme is Be Bold For Change. Take a moment to honor and recognize the women who have served as positive role models in your life, who have inspired and motivated you, and who have bravely charted new territory as pathfinders.

Now imagine your life without them. Oh, wait a minute. You wouldn’t be here if not for a woman! This message is being reinforced by leaders of the January 21, 2017 Women’s March. They are encouraging women to participate in A Day Without A Woman on this International Women’s Day by not spending any money (or alternatively supporting women- and minority-owned businesses)  and by not engaging in any work.

Think about all of the women who have encouraged and inspired you. Mothers. Grandmothers. Aunts. Sisters. Daughters. Granddaughters. Great-granddaughters. Sisters-in-law. Mothers-in-law. Teachers. Bosses. Co-workers. Neighbors. Religious leaders. Shop owners. Community leaders. Political leaders. Friends.

I for one would not be the person I am today were it not for the courageous, intelligent, fearless women who came before me.

On this day, I honor my maternal grandmother who emigrated from Poland to begin a new life in America. She spoke no English when she arrived at Ellis Island. As a wife and mother, she ran a large household (with seven children) on a small stipend. Her values of hard work, discipline, and sacrifice were passed on to her children.

My 96-year-old mother continues to inspire me every day. I have enjoyed many lengthy conversations with her over the years, listening to her life story, and understanding her remarkable life as a first generation American. It took her ten years to work her way through college to receive her first degree – at the age of 47. At the age of 80, she received her second college degree. Although she could have audited classes for free as a senior citizen, she preferred to pay for every class so she could earn a degree.

Many women have inspired me from afar. The list is too long to include all of them here, yet, a few stand out…women of all ages and backgrounds:

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem

 

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou

 

“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

Tina Fey

 

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa

 

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” Amelia Earhart

 

“One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.” Barbara Walters

Now more than ever, women’s voices must be heard. We are economic decision makers, leaders in education, innovators in science and technology, entrepreneurs, and nurturers of the human family. Our inclusive and collaborative style leads to positive change. A quick review of Forbes Magazine’s “The World’s 100 Most Influential Women” will remind you of the capabilities and accomplishments of women.

At some point today, pause for a moment, and silently thank the women who have encouraged, supported, and inspired you. Or better yet, pick up the phone and call them!

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What the Obamas Taught Me About Leadership

Credit: The White House

Credit: The White House

There are many lessons that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have taught me during the past eight years. The greatest lesson is that of leadership. Since President and Mrs. Obama will be returning to private life soon, I want to share the impact that their leadership as President and First Lady has had on me and on millions of Americans, young and old alike.

Charting New Territory. As the first African-American President and First Lady, the Obamas handled the challenge with style and grace. They set the tone on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, by walking the limousine route, embracing the American people every step of the way. Leaders are risk takers and confident, even when they are entering uncharted territory. 

Fresh Perspective. While it is customary for presidential couples to bring children and/or pets with them to The White House, for the first time, a mother-in-law joined The First Family. This act represented the importance of family to the Obamas. Inclusive leaders bring along others with them.

Positive Role Models. On national and global platforms, the President and First Lady represented our country with diplomacy and respect, whether a happy or sad occasion, or a tense moment. Effective leaders walk the talk and hold their behavior to the highest standard.

A Sense of Humor. Whether the President sipped a beer in the Rose Garden or the First Lady danced with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, the Obamas proved that they have a sense of humor, and that they are real people. Authentic leaders capture my attention and hold my heart.

Credit: The White House

Credit: The White House

Passion. Both the President and Mrs. Obama share a passion for America. More importantly, they opened up dialogue and initiated change, addressing tough issues like race, education, poverty, healthcare, nutrition, and American values, to name a few. Passionate leaders inspire, motivate, and empower others to initiate change.

Persistence and Grace. Throughout two presidential terms, the President and First Lady were met with obstacles and challenges. Sometimes it came from House or Senate leadership. Sometimes it came from political pundits. Sometimes it came from citizens. Through it all, the Obamas took the high road. They never buckled under pressure and remained calm and level-headed. They handled adversity with perseverance and grace. Leaders never give up, even when they know it might be a tough road ahead.

Partnership. Seeing them in the public eye for the past eight years, it is clear that the Obamas have more than a good marriage going for them…their commitment to a lifelong partnership, anchored in common values of trust, respect, and equality, is evident. You can see it and feel it when they are together or when they speak of each other. Exceptional leaders treat you like a valued partner, regardless of your position or status.

Eloquence. Both the President and the First Lady are eloquent speakers. Their words are spoken from the heart, and thoughtfully executed. President Obama’s speech on race and his farewell speech on democracy were two of his finest. You could hear a pin drop during First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2016 Democratic National Convention speech. Leaders who share a powerful message command attention.

Intelligence. Intelligence is more than just a high IQ. It’s being sensitive to the needs of others around you. The Obamas showed us intelligence and thoughtfulness through every new program or initiative that was introduced. Intelligent leaders are critical thinkers and encourage others to carefully think things through.

Class act. Singularly and collectively, the Obamas are a class act. They embody the very essence of professionalism in every aspect of their life. With the Obamas, though, it is no act. Genuine goodness and decency resides at the core of who they are. Leaders with class are admired for their fairness and decorum.

Thank you, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, for your exceptional public service. Your legacy of hope, collaboration, and leadership lives on. You will continue to inspire and motivate me and millions of Americans to initiate positive change in our lives, our communities, our country, and the world.

What Makes Your Day Great?

ethanthankyouOne statement that can make your day a great one is a sincere “Thank you.” It’s a simple statement, one of the most common that you hear.

When you are on the receiving end of “Thank you,” something wonderful happens. You feel recognized, valued, and appreciated. You feel like the other person took the time to speak from the heart.

One such thank you arrived in our mailbox recently. It was sent to my husband and me by our “adopted” godson, Ethan. I say adopted because we are not his official godparents, rather, we are godparents to his older brother, Andrew. Truth be told, we’re also adopted godparents to their older sister, Alexis.

From the outside, it looked like a normal thank you card from American Greetings. The sentiment inside is what truly made my day. On the inside left panel was a huge THANK YOU, perfectly handwritten in all caps. The note began with an appropriate salutation: “Uncle Christine and Aunt Mark.” Years ago when the kids were still living at home, their mom, one of my best and longtime friends, made the mistake of mixing up our names. When all three kids heard it, they burst into laughter. Somehow, it magically stuck, and it has been that way ever since. That happy accident became a new moniker for us. I am Uncle Christine and Mark is Aunt Mark.

Ethan just began his freshman year of college. He was thanking us for his graduation gift and something more. He was thanking us for being who we are, and for being in his life. I love his first sentence: “You two are some of my favorite people on the planet.” The note continues with “I look up to you two more than anyone in my life and I’m not just saying that.” He went on to tell Mark and me how he feels about us. His note was very touching, and yes, it made me teary-eyed.

The moment I finished reading the thank you note, I told Mark, “Let’s keep this out as a reminder. Any time we’re having a bad day, we can simply pick it up and read it again to lift our spirits.”

Poetry and songs relate to this solo journey called life. We can sometimes feel alone, undervalued or under appreciated, like we don’t matter, or like people don’t care. Then we realize – through some small recognition by other people – that we are not alone, that we do matter, that they do care, that we have influenced their lives in some way…just like Ethan’s note stated.

Let me ask you this: Who was the last person you said “thank you” to? Was it a clerk at a store? A server at a restaurant? A co-worker? A team member? Your spouse? Your partner? Never underestimate the power of thank you. You just might make someone else’s day.

Empathy Is Needed in a Post-9/11 America

Artist Faith Rinngold and New York children, ages 8-10, created the 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, 2006

Artist Faith Rinngold and New York children, ages 8-10, created the 9/11 Peace Story Quilt in 2006

Where were you on September 11, 2001? What were you feeling as the events of that day unfolded?

I remember exactly where I was. I was working on the computer in my home office, getting ready for a morning meeting in downtown Cleveland. The phone rang. It was one of my clients. She quickly said, “Turn on your TV!” When I asked her why, she repeated, “Just go and turn on your TV!!” I ran downstairs, and found national news anchor Peter Jennings reporting live on ABC-TV. He was showing video footage of a jet hitting the World Trade Center in New York City.

My mind was trying to process what was happening. I stood there shocked and dazed. I realized my client was still on the office line upstairs. When I returned to the call, she provided a few more details. I didn’t know until much later that one of the “hostage” airplanes had flown over Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. I live several miles from the airport.

While the day was filled with disturbing images and reports, for me, the evening was surrealistic. Living so close to the airport, I didn’t hear the usual airplanes overhead that night. It was completely silent.

This year, the citizens of our country and the world remembered that tragic event that happened 15 years ago and the thousands of lives that were lost and thousands more who lost a spouse, partner, parent, child, sibling, relative, friend, neighbor, or co-worker.

9/11 changed the way we travel, how we perceive or judge others, how we communicate, how we measure security, and how we mourned as a nation.

The greatest lesson 9/11 taught us is the power – and the necessity – of empathy.

From my perspective, empathy is sorely lacking in society today. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines empathy as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else’s feelings.” Simply put, it’s trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sympathy, on the other hand, is defined as “a feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else’s trouble, grief, misfortune, etc.; a sympathetic feeling is a feeling of support for something.” Both require some level of compassion. To me, empathy requires a deeper level of compassion than sympathy. It requires stretching your capacity to genuinely “feel” for another person. Empathy also requires setting aside your ego and your own wants, desires, and needs and focusing on another person’s wants, desires, and needs. It also demands that you listen from your heart rather than your head.

The world today is a far different place than it was 15 years ago. Your skill set has expanded to include a greater consideration for cultural differences, diversity, and inclusion. Workplace environments and laws governing the country, states and cities have broadened our perspectives.

9/11 is a time of remembrance. It is also a time to reflect and ask yourself how you’re doing. How do you demonstrate empathy in your workplace? In your personal life? In your community? How open-minded are you when you travel to other countries or when you welcome new citizens to ours? Where can you incorporate peace, love, and unity in your life?

What We Can Learn From the Olympic Spirit

Team USA Swimmer Ryan Murphy Wins Gold. Image: Reuters.com

Team USA Swimmer Ryan Murphy proudly displays his gold medal. Image: Reuters.com

With the 2016 Summer Olympics underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I am watching my favorite events, and learning a lot in the process. I particularly enjoy NBC-TV‘s coverage of the events, especially sharing the athletes’ personal life stories about their journey to the Olympics.

On August 8, one story was so inspirational, I had to share it. It began with an eight-year-old boy’s interest in swimming, which became a dream and a goal.

That young boy, now 21-year-old Ryan Murphy from Team USA, claimed a gold medal in the men’s 100 meter backstroke swimming competition on Monday, with his parents witnessing his completion of that goal stated more than a decade ago.

RyanMurphy

Image: NBC.com

When he was a child, Ryan wrote a letter to his parents  expressing his love of swimming. The letter contained drawings showing him swimming in blue water, with his mom standing next to the pool. The end of the letter simply stated his desire to continue swimming and his intentions to compete in the Olympics, break world records and be “the best swimmer in the world.”

On Monday, Ryan’s goals were fulfilled.

Ryan Murphy’s Olympic win demonstrates what it takes to achieve a goal:

State a powerful intention, a dream, a vision, a goal.

Learn from the best. Work with a coach or a mentor who can help you achieve your goal.

Show physical, mental, and emotional strength. There will be times when you think you can’t make it. Keep strong.

Be persistent. Keep at it. Keep your focus on that end goal.

Practice! To improve in anything, you need to practice every day. I learned that lesson from my piano teacher.

Post a visual reminder of your goal. Even at eight years old, Ryan Murphy put his intentions on paper. At that young age, he knew what he wanted. A visual image helps you see what accomplishing your goal will look and feel like.

Enhance your talent or skill. You have to be good at it. To make it to the Olympic medal platform, of course, you have to be exceptionally good.

Give it your all. Push yourself beyond where you “think” you can go.

If you find yourself struggling to achieve goals, let Ryan Murphy’s example inspire you. Reflect on what it takes to get there…all of the above!

The Power of Unified Silence

CircleBannerOn Sunday, July 17, 2016, on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, I witnessed the power of unified silence by participating in Circle the City With Love, a 30-minute silent “stand” to show the world that with peace, love and unity, anything is possible. Standing with me was my husband, Mark, my sister Marianne and my brother-in-law Gene. Circle the City With Love was the idea of Sister Rita Petruziello, executive director of River’s Edge, a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph on Cleveland’s west side.

People from all walks of life, representing diversity in age, race, religion, lifestyle, economic background, and gender, joined hands as a sign of solidarity in bringing the Circle the City With Love message to the community, the nation, and the world. More than 2,000 people spanned the Hope Memorial Bridge, forming two lines across the historic 4,490-foot bridge. A group of about 30 police officers on bicycles received cheers of support and thank you’s from the crowd as they rode across the bridge.

SrRitaPetruziello

Sister Rita Petruziello

When the fog horn blew, indicating that the 30 minutes of silence had begun, people became quiet immediately. I found myself fully present and aware of every environmental sound and sensation, the breeze, the heat of the sun on my shoulders, the din of distant traffic. Within moments, I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I experienced firsthand the power of purposeful silence. I wasn’t distracted by my usual “monkey mind” which is quite active, thinking of things to do. Rather, my mind was relaxed and at peace, joyfully demonstrating solidarity, unity, peace, compassion, love, and hope in action.

When the fog horn sounded to indicate the end of the stand, strangers embraced, hugged, shook hands, chatted a bit, and then went on with the rest of their day. Donning our Circle the City With Love t-shirts allowed us to identify our community anywhere in the city for the rest of the day. We didn’t have to say a word, just simply nod, sending a nonverbal cue that we shared a common purpose.

-8a5c2ebe922493b7Just one day prior, I had listened to Day 6 of Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s free 21-day meditation series, Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life. The message for that day was You Deserve More Than Second-Hand Experiences. A first-hand experience is one that you create for yourself, one that no one else can demand of you, one that reminds you, as Deepak suggests, that “I am the author of my day.”

For me, the Circle the City With Love experience was a powerful, memorable first-hand experience. As a result, I am challenging myself to create more first-hand experiences that expand my perspective and worldview.

When you live a purposeful life, you gain more from it. As Henry David Thoreau said, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

How are you rising above and becoming the author of your day?

Images: Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com.

One Idea, One Collaboration: The Voice Heard ‘Round the World

Dr. Deanna Attai, Alicia Staley and Jody Schoger

(L-R): Dr. Deanna Attai, Alicia Staley and Jody Schoger

It’s easy to second guess yourself, to doubt if your idea will work, if anyone will be interested or even care. Sometimes you need a little faith.

I first met Jody in college through a mutual friend. We were all public relations majors at Kent State University. Right away I noticed – and appreciated – her intelligence and refreshing sense of humor. We would see each other on campus, at parties or other events. I never really knew her well, rather, I kept up to date on what was happening in her life through our mutual friend.

After college, Jody and her husband moved a few times, and they finally landed in the Houston area while I remained in Ohio. About a decade ago, we reconnected through LinkedIn. Every once in a while we would share an email or private message to stay in touch. I am so very appreciative of social media, because it allows us to remain current with our network of contacts.

Four years ago, when I knew I was traveling to Houston for business, I contacted Jody to see if we could meet for coffee. We met at the airport a few hours before my plane’s departure. I can honestly say, of all the years I knew Jody, that one conversation was the best we ever shared because we were focused on each other, with no distractions. That’s when she shared with me what she was doing with her life.

As a breast cancer survivor (Jody was in remission when we met for coffee), she began looking at social media as a way to reach other survivors. Through Twitter, Jody connected with Alicia Staley, another breast cancer survivor, who became a collaborator. On July 4, 2011, they hosted their first live tweet chat for breast cancer survivors. That initial tweet chat has grown into a standing weekly chat, helping survivors around the world. Soon, Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast cancer surgeon, would join in on the conversations as co-moderator. The three created a dynamic team, which resulted in The Breast Cancer Social Media (BCSM) community; #BCSM on Twitter. The BCSM community is comprised of patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, and advocates. While you are celebrating Fourth of July festivities, take a moment to celebrate BCSM’s fifth anniversary on that day!

Here’s the one big idea: To use social media to reach breast cancer survivors with evidence-based education and support. As a public relations professional and gifted writer, Jody began researching and writing articles of interest to women and men who were going through the experiences of surgery, treatment, or remission. Beyond the weekly Tweet chats, BCSM developed into an amazing online community, reminding breast cancer survivors that they were not alone and that their voices were being heard. Jody and her colleagues delivered presentations at medical conferences.

Shortly after we met for that cup of coffee, Jody’s cancer returned. Through it all, she continued to write, post, and share valuable information and anecdotal content about the disease. Her battle with cancer finally ended on May 18. She is now at peace. USA Today contributor Liz Szabo captured Jody’s essence in a beautiful tribute.

What a tremendous gift Jody gave to women and men around the globe. Her legacy of education and support lives on. Because of BCSM, breast cancer survivors receive comprehensive information and the love and support they need to manage the disease. And it all began with one question, one idea, that led to a collaborative, caring online community that is transforming lives.

Jody’s persistent work reminds us of one important message: Don’t ever underestimate the power that you possess…to bring your voice to the world.

 

Words of Wisdom From a Café

Ernest Hemingway in Paris

The oasis in the life of many Europeans is the local café…a place to unwind with a café au lait and engage in conversation with friends, colleagues and family. It is part of the daily regimen, like taking a walk in the park or riding the Metro to work.

These simple acts of everyday life in two major European cities – Paris and Brussels – were abruptly stopped in 2015 and now in 2016 through brutal terrorist attacks. In both cases, the world stood in solidarity with France and Belgium.

Many of the world’s most creative minds in literature, art, poetry, photography, theatre, music, philosophy and politics have met at intimate European cafés, in cities like Paris and Brussels, to exchange news of the day, opinions and world views.

What words of wisdom would these luminaries share, to console the world in its grief? Their timeless quotes represent the strength of the human spirit.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway

 

“One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.” May Sarton

 

“Only divine love bestows the keys of knowledge.”

Arthur Rimbaud

 

“Love is the greatest refreshment in life.” Pablo Picasso

 

“Total war is no longer war waged by all members of one national community against all those of another. It is total…because it may well involve the whole world.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

 

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” René Magritte

 

“Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself.” Simone de Beauvoir

 

“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola

 

“What is love? It is the morning and the evening star.” Sinclair Lewis

 

“When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.” Jean Cocteau

 

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

 

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

“Those who weep recover more quickly than those who smile.” Jean Giraudoux

 

“The depth and strength of a human character are defined by its moral reserves. People reveal themselves completely only when they are thrown out of the customary conditions of their life, for only then do they have to fall back on their reserves.” Leon Trotsky

 

“Genius…is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.” Ezra Pound

 

“Action and reaction are equal and opposite.”

Gertrude Stein

Don’t sit in isolation. Join the world in conversation. Search for and find compassion, humility, joy, beauty, and happiness. Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Art in any form provides an oasis to us. Visit a favorite café or discover a new one, sit in silence admiring a Monet or Magritte painting at a museum, or engage in spirited dialogue with friends or strangers. Engaging, thoughtful conversation activates the healing process.

Are You Giving It Your All?

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 3.20.15 PM

Aretha Franklin at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors

When was the last time you asked yourself if you were giving your all to your job or your personal life? It’s easy to skim along life’s surface without going deep. What would it take for you to go above and beyond the norm? To feel the satisfaction of knowing that you have done your absolute best?

One of my favorite annual traditions watching the Kennedy Center Honors, a program that salutes a select group of talented individuals in the arts who have reached the pinnacle of their careers and who inspire us to achieve great things. The last week of 2015, the Kennedy Center honored filmmaker George Lucas, actress Cicely Tyson, conductor Seiji Ozawa, actress/singer/dancer Rita Moreno, and singer-songwriter Carole King. One of the stars to pay tribute to Carole King was none other than the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. She brought down the house as she gave it her all. Here’s what every professional can learn from Aretha’s amazing performance:

Own your professional presence. Dressed in a stunning gown and full-length mink coat, Aretha commanded attention as she stepped onto the stage. With confidence and ease, she sat down at a Baby Grand piano, and the applause and gasps got even louder. (I had never seen Aretha seated at a piano; in fact, I didn’t even know she played the piano). She began playing – and singing – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, co-written by Carole King and Jerry Goffin, one of the most soulful, intimate songs to reach the Top Ten charts ever.

Put everything you have into it. A woman half her age could not put the same spin on A Natural Woman like Aretha because she was singing her lived experience into the song. There is a reason she’s still called the Queen of Soul; no one else owns the title.

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 3.21.05 PM

A bold move: Dropping the mink coat

Do something bold and memorable. Aretha had the audience in the palm of her hand. Three minutes and 45 minutes into the video clip, she did something surprising that brought the audience to its feet: She stood center stage and dropped the mink coat on the floor, with complete abandon, showing her raw talent and vulnerability as a performer.

Connect to the emotion. No matter what line of work you are in, when you connect to people’s emotions, your message becomes much clearer and stronger. Everyone felt the emotion of the song. Carole King’s reactions were priceless.

When you’ve still got it, flaunt it. Every word Aretha sang, every movement she made was wrapped in graceful elegance. When you are a professional who performs your best, people respond well to you, no matter what your age.

When you stand front and center, with an audience of ten or 2,000, how do you present yourself to others? Take a few pointers from Aretha and give it your all.