Is Your Authenticity Showing?

Women in music rock on through She Is The Music

Women in music rock on through She Is The Music

There was something refreshingly different about the 61st Grammy Awards this year. Comic sketches and clever routines were replaced by transparency and honesty. It began the moment Alicia Keys, the emcee, stepped onto the stage. Her powerful authentic style set the tone – and vibe – for the entire event.

In her first year hosting the Grammy Awards (the first woman to host), there was a palpable positive energy in the room. It was all Alicia Keys. For anyone who has followed Keys’ career, it is clear that the performer today is a much more natural version of her earlier self. She rarely wears makeup, because quite frankly she doesn’t need it. Beyond that radiant smile and soulful eyes, her real beauty and power comes from her inner being. She is real, honest, and pure light.

I have been a fan of Alicia Keys from the first moment I heard her perform on the Grammy stage in 2002. Within her voice lies purity and purpose, clarity and emotion. She is one of those individuals who, once you hear her, you say, “This woman was born to sing!”

Each time she returned to the Grammy stage, Keys elevated the energy in the room. For me, the most defining moment of the entire Grammy Awards was that moment – and for those of you who watched the show know what I’m about to say – when Keys straddled two Steinway pianos to reveal her pure talent. Some times, she played both pianos simultaneously; other times, she shifted from one piano to the other. She demonstrated perfection as a performing artist.

It got me thinking about us as professionals, particularly, what happens when we enter the room, how people respond to us, and how we invite people into our space. Do you welcome conversation? Do you put people at ease when they meet you for the first time? Do you emanate positivity? Do you put your best foot forward? What tone are you setting? Are you representing your most authentic self?

Watching Alicia Keys in action – from standing shoulder to shoulder with former First Lady Michelle Obama to signing off for the night in a most inclusive, personal way – I was reminded that we professionals can certainly do a better job of putting our best selves out there when we boldly step out onto that platform or that stage, or enter that boardroom. When your confidence shines, you shine, and you command attention. When you draw your audience in, they will demand that you return (and of course, we all want Alicia Keys to return as the Grammy host next year!). That platform, stage, or boardroom becomes yours. You were born to be your most authentic self.

Image: She Is The Music

Clashing With a Co-Worker? Consider Personal Style Differences

image.axdIf you wonder why you don’t see eye to eye with certain co-workers, it could be because your style preferences are different. One person who communicates with a fast, direct style may be intimidating to another person who needs reflective time to process information. You may think the other person is “odd” when in reality you just have different styles.

One of the best investments you can make in yourself as a professional is to take a personal style assessment (or several). You will gain valuable insights about your own style and the styles of people you work with.

Some companies use assessments during the hiring process or prior to training programs. From a human resource perspective, assessments help to determine if you are a right “fit” for a specific position, based on the job’s criteria. Assessments can also provide a glimpse at an employee’s skill level as a team player or leader. As a coach, I often use assessments to help me understand my clients as we enter the coaching relationship.

Even if you have to pay for an assessment yourself, which usually costs less than $100 per assessment, the results will allow you to gain clarity about yourself as a person, worker, team member and leader. It will also help you to identify behavioral styles and suggest ways for you to interact with and work along side people whose styles may be different from yours.

Personal/social style assessments have been available for more than half a century. Once you understand your personal style and behavior, you can learn to modify your behavior in work/life situations. The end result: You will learn how to position yourself as a professional more effectively.

Some of the most common assessments used in the American workplace include:

Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, the MBTI is based on the ideas of Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, which identifies 16 distinct personality differences and preferences.

DISC Profile Analysis. A behavioral model developed by John Geier and others based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston and behaviorist Walter V. Clarke and others, the profile measures four distinct characteristics, Dominance (how you respond to problems/challenges), Influence (how you influence others to your point of view), Steadiness (how you respond to the pace of the environment), and Compliance (how you respond to rules and procedures set by others).

Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile. The Gallup Press offers two popular tools, Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile, from the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The tools focus on 34 dominant themes that help participants identify their talents and how they can build a successful life and career.

Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). Developed by Ned Herrmann, the HBDI assesses thinking preferences, identifying four specific modes of thinking: Analytical, sequential, interpersonal, and imaginative. His concept, Whole Brain® Thinking, helps individuals understand how to be flexible in using the four styles of thinking within organizations and in individual relationships.

Social Style® Model. Dr. David Merrill and Roger Reid developed the Social Style® Profile in the 1960s, which determines social/behavioral style and is helpful for people who work in team environments. The model identifies four types: Analytical (thinking oriented), Driver (action oriented), Amiable (relationship oriented) and Expressive (intuition oriented).

Emotional Intelligence and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI). Co-created by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Hay Group, Inc., the ESCI measures self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

True Colors. Based upon the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, and refined by David Keirsey, the True Colors assessment allows you to explore 24 aspects of your personality. Each unique style is color coded, representing psychological and physiological needs.

The Enneagram. Using nine patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting, the Enneagram reveals information about your whole self and what motivates you.

360-Degree Feedback. This assessment tool uses the perspective of others as a way to subjectively describe your style, using descriptive words. It compares the description that you choose with the descriptions that others choose, to indicate any gaps between how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.

These are just a few of the most common assessments used in the workplace. For a complete listing and evaluation of assessments, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) offers an overview of the many assessment tools the Center offers.

If you find yourself asking the question, “Who am I?,” then make an investment in yourself, or ask your HR professional about assessments that your company offers. Assessments help to paint a picture of who you are and can offer you insights into your style and its impact on others.

How to Build Your Fan Base, Adele Style

Singer/songwriter and Grammy Award winner Adele returned to the stage at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to perform in front of a live audience after nearly a three-year hiatus. (The pre-recorded event aired on NBC on December 14). The moment the curtain rose, adoring fans cheered her return. Decked out from head to toe in a sparkly full-length gown and crowned with a stunning retro up do, Adele didn’t disappoint. She started her first song, Hello, slowly, softly, then rising to her signature high notes with abandon.

When she finished the first song, something refreshing happened: She made a goofy face, one that fully described what she was feeling emotionally (“Thank God I made it through that first song!”). It was genuine and spontaneous. The audience loved her honesty.

It got me thinking. Could you stand in front of your peers if you had been out of the picture for almost three years? Pick up right where you left off? Never miss a beat? She was nervous, to be sure, as she performed in front of 6,000 fans in person and millions of television viewers. She pushed through each perfectly performed song.

You may not think often enough about who is on your side, your advocates and supporters, allies and angels…people who love you, adore you, want to see you succeed, stand on the sidelines and cheer for you when you need it the most. Your fan base is right there, today, in front of you, all around you. Take a moment to see who those people are and be grateful.

Watching and listening to Adele’s performance drove home an important message for all professionals: You can build your fan base too. Here are some lessons I learned from Adele:

Be authentic. Adele is real. When she sings, you can feel her emotional connection to the song. She doesn’t just sing the lyrics; she feels her lived experiences.

Create a compelling style. Adele doesn’t make excuses for her style. She embraces it. She loves who she is. Retro style suits her to a tee.

Be honest. Adele told the audience how nervous she was, how her life has changed since she recorded specific songs filled with longing and pain. She kicked off her shoes when her feet hurt. The NBC network even had to bleep her a few times. The audience appreciated her openness.

Deliver. Clearly, Adele delivers her best to the audience. She doesn’t just show up, sing a few songs and go home. She puts her entire being into her work. Fans can tell the difference.

Grow! Fans have watched Adele grow as an artist and mature into adulthood right before their eyes. She came into the music scene in her late teens; she is now 27. She reminds you that true success requires growth and positive change along the way.

Appreciate your fans. “Thank you,” “I love you” were repeated throughout her performance with humility and appreciation. How often do you let your advocates, supporters, allies and angels know how much you appreciate, value and respect them? How do you treat them? How will you stay connected to your fan base?

Whether you like Adele’s music or not, you must admire her genuine love for her fans. She consistently delivers high energy performances and quality albums to her fan base. You can learn a lot by watching her in action.

Note: Adele broke all U.S. album sales records the first week of the release of her latest album “25″ in November, according to Billboard Magazine.

Stand Out or Blend In

imagesDonning a vintage 1960s wide-brimmed black straw hat, I escorted my 94-year-old Mother to Easter Sunday mass. On the way into the church, a woman grabbed my arm and said, “I just have to tell you that I love your hat!” I thanked her and told her how I wished more women wore hats. As I walked further into the church and sat down, my husband noticed that no other women were wearing hats. Shortly after that, my older sister (who also was wearing a hat) and her husband arrived.

One of the fondest memories I hold dear about my Dad was a simple tradition that he started on the highway. As he would approach a state line, he would tip his hat as he drove past the “Welcome to…” sign. To this day, whenever I pass a state line sign, I think of him and smile. To me, my Dad’s small act symbolized his gratitude for everything that allowed him to get that far on the journey…a well-running car, a full tank of gas, good weather conditions and of course cooperative children in the back seat!

As I turned to shake the hands of the people around me during the “sign of peace” at church, I smiled at the woman directly behind me who was also wearing a hat. Something amazing happened. For a moment, we exuberantly embraced our tiny “community” of hats in the congregation. Now it was three of us who were the only women wearing hats in the entire church.

It got me thinking. One simple act – wearing a hat – got people’s attention, turned heads and created a buzz. What are you doing to stand out? To position yourself differently from others? Sometimes it takes just one thing to set you apart from everyone else.

If you are feeling bold and daring and want to learn more about the fine art of hat wearing, read the online British magazine, The Hat Magazine. If you want to see some spectacular hats, visit the Hat Center, a group of hat manufacturers in Florence, Italy. Bellissima!

Write a Love Note, Adult Style

AValentineGirlOpenjpg004The biggest “love day” celebration comes on Valentine’s Day – February 14 – each year, when people remember the people they love and admire the most by offering a card, a call, chocolates, dinner or a gift.

When I was in elementary school, beginning the first week of February, each student would bring in a shoe box, decorated as a repository for classmates’ valentines professing their love (or like) to you. Even the kids who nobody liked received and gave valentines as a sign of unity. With some glue and scissors in hand, I would cut multiple hearts out of red construction paper and add a few of my mom’s paper doilies, add my name – Christine – in big letters (in crayon, of course), and proudly display it at the back of the classroom with the others students’ boxes. Of course I hoped that mine would stand out so my classmates would simply have to put a valentine in my decorated box. The memory is vivid because it was the one time of the year when appreciation was shown through giving and receiving.

In my workshops, people often tell me how much it means to them to receive recognition. “All I want to know is if I’m doing a good job.” “I would like to receive some feedback more often than just during my annual performance review.” Words cost less than valentines. Words cost nothing, yet they can bring such joy and delight when they are sent with love, kindness and good intention.

AValentineGirlClosedjpg003I purchased this adorable valentine at an antique store years ago and recently rediscovered it while cleaning out some drawers. It got me thinking that we need to share our love, appreciation and gratitude with people who mean the most to us more than just once a year. Imagine how different your life would be if you brought the spirit of Valentine’s Day into your daily activities.

Who in your life would you like to give a valentine to? That valentine can come in any form: A written letter, a card, a brief phone call or even an email or text message. Whether it is love or gratitude that you want to acknowledge, appreciation or a thank you for a kind gesture, take the time to do it. People in your life will truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Please, Thank You and You’re Welcome

thankyou1-424-x-283Three simple polite expressions are missing from our culture these days: Saying “Please,” “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome.” Yet, these statements are so simple to say. They don’t require any extra energy…just some thought. For me, being polite became rote from the time I was a child. My parents taught me well.

There is a distinct difference between “Pass the peas” and “Please pass the peas.” Adding “please” adapts a command to a request and extends a common courtesy to the other person.

I recently facilitated a training program for a client. As I was distributing a handout for a special assignment, a participant said, “Thank you.” I stopped and said, “Thank you for saying thank you.” She replied, “You’re welcome.” She was taught well.

While visiting a longtime friend, her ten-year-old daughter said, “Thank you.” A few minutes later when I thanked her, she said “You’re welcome.” Her mother taught her well.

There was a time when exchanged pleasantries like these were common place. They were part of our cultural norm. We gave them no thought because everyone had been taught Manners 101. I long for those days when people extended simple courtesies to one another.

While attending a meeting recently, I ran into a man who I hadn’t seen for more than 20 years. He said he would like to get together some time to talk about getting into the kind of business I am in. Then he said, “Do you have a minute to sit and talk now?” We sat down. One hour later, after presenting a great deal of useful information to him, I wrapped up our conversation. He said he appreciated my time and gleaned many good ideas from our time together. A few days passed. A week, two weeks passed. Nothing happened. He never sent a simple thank you email. He sent me no handwritten thank you note. He never extended a small gesture of any kind. What is an hour of someone else’s time worth when you are on the receiving end of valuable information that will shorten your learning curve? To me, it’s worth – at minimum – a follow-up thank you of some kind.

How often do you add “Please,” “Thank You” and “You’re Welcome” to your everyday conversations? When someone goes above and beyond and delivers real value to you, what could you do to show your appreciation? Consider doing something more. At minimum, a simple thank you email or note positions you well. Giving a $10 Starbucks card to someone who has helped you somehow goes a long way in positioning you as a thoughtful, grateful person who valued that time spent together.

Do You Trick or Treat?

TrickOrTreatThat favorite annual holiday – Halloween – is upon us. It got me thinking about how in our everyday lives we are capable of either tricking or treating others. Which do you do?


Do you trick people into thinking you are someone who you are not? Do you deliberately put on airs and misrepresent yourself to others? It’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself, and understand why you do this. Reveal your true authentic self for others to see.

Do you trick yourself into believing that you are not worthy? When you suffer from The Imposter Syndrome, you trick yourself into thinking that you are not as good as you really are and you are afraid that others will find out you’re not as good as they think you are. It’s time for a reality check and focus on feeling good about yourself and feeling worthy.

Do you trick others by compromising quality or taking short cuts? When you give 100% of yourself and do quality work, you demonstrate your integrity and gain credibility in the process.

Do you serve up tricks by being light hearted and funny? See? Not all tricks are bad. There are good tricks as well. When you can laugh at yourself and help others to laugh too, people will appreciate your sense of humor.


Do you treat all people equally, with dignity and respect? This simple act makes a big difference in how others see you. The dignity and respect you show to them will come back to you ten-fold.

Do you treat other people like they are more important than you? When you let others shine and support them in their dreams and aspirations, you are putting their needs before yours. It positions you as someone who cares.

How often do you treat others? I mean really treat them? Whether it’s giving a server a slightly bigger tip, giving a gift to someone just because you felt like it, or picking up the tab every once in a while for no reason, you are letting your benevolence shine.

As you participate in the festivities of Halloween this year, think about the “tricks” or “treats” that you are doling out. How can you treat others like they have value?

Lessons From Joan Rivers

joan_rivers_televisionShe had us in stitches for decades with her signature phrases like “Can we talk?” and “Oh, you don’t know!” With the recent passing of Joan Rivers, people are learning much more about the feisty blonde from Brooklyn. Behind every jab or zinger was a woman who truly loved life, warts and all. In fact, it was the warts that were the most memorable. Through it all were some simple life lessons. Here are just a few.

Politeness doesn’t pay. What did pay was her uncanny ability to discuss issues that nobody else would dare to talk about. Whether it was talking about a specific body part or fabricating a news flash, she would find a way to deliver her signature humor with great confidence and chutzpah. No topic was taboo to her.

Be an original. We hear a lot about the importance of authenticity and being yourself. Some of it is just babble. With Joan Rivers, she was the real deal. She not only walked the talk. She had swagger. While she attended a prestigious private college, she was the very antithesis of that lifestyle. There was nothing about her that was snooty or unapproachable. She didn’t put on airs. She was real.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. She encountered tremendous highs and lows in her life and in her career. She learned from life’s lessons and became the Queen of Self-Deprecating Humor. She reminded us all to laugh our way through life, to laugh at ourselves and to not take ourselves too seriously. I can hear her saying, “Oh, get over yourself!”

Do what you love and do it well. She felt most comfortable in front of an audience. It gave her tremendous energy and joy. She poured herself into everything she did. It didn’t matter what Joan did – stand-up comedy, (first female) late night talk show host, red carpet television critic, reality TV diva, Fashion Police TV show host or selling her fashion merchandise on QVC – she gave it her all and did it well.

Work hard, and smell those roses. It is well known throughout the comedy industry that Joan Rivers possessed an amazing work ethic. She worked hard. She also made time for her family. She worked side by side with her daughter, Melissa, as co-star in their reality show and as producer/co-producer in television ventures. She cherished her grandson and her close friends and always found time to have a conversation.

Be young at heart. When Joan Rivers won The Celebrity Apprentice 2 a few years back, she proved an important point: No matter what age you are, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. She ran circles around people half her age.

Small (just 5’2″) and mighty, Joan Rivers was a pathfinder for women and for female comics. No one will ever replace her. She will remain in our hearts forever.

Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Thankfully, Joan Rivers never wasted a day.




How Do People Introduce You?

WordBalloonsWhen was the last time you listened – really listened – to the way people introduce you to others? If you haven’t, then it’s time for you to pay attention. When you see yourself through other people’s eyes, you just may discover something new.

What words to people use to describe you? How do they differentiate you from other persons? Part of my signature style is my favorite perfume, Tea Rose, a light floral fragrance that smells like – you guessed it – fresh roses. Imagine my surprise when one of my colleagues introduced me to a friend of hers by saying, “Christine always smells like flowers.” In truth, if I had to smell like something, a flower is it.

Listen for the word always. People will usually say something like, “Carol is always entertaining us with her hilarious stories” or “Bob is always the life of the party” or “John is always traveling to such interesting places” or “Pat is always reading such interesting books.” There are things about you that even you may not see or hear. Listen to the words that people use to describe you and rediscover your unique personal style.

Define Your Personal Style

What makes you unique or distinctive? Every person has his or her own personal style that cannot be duplicated by anyone else. How are you defining your style? Here are a few ideas:

Hone your interpersonal skills. Look at how you contact, thank, remember or follow up with people. What do you do that sets you apart from others?

Keep in touch…for no reason at all. One of our longtime friends, Richard, has amused and touched us over the years with his thoughtful and often unexpected handwritten notes, cards and telephone calls. It is so endearing because he consistently keeps in touch.

Acquire an interesting hobby. If you are a manager during the day, you could become someone quite different in the evening or on the weekends. Are you a ballroom dancer? Do you compete in marathons? Have your prized perennials won awards at the County Fair? Who are you besides the person who comes to work every day? That’s what makes you unique.

Thank someone in a creative way. Imagine my surprise when I received a hand-written thank you note with a small enclosure – an herbal tea bag. It came from a colleague I met online. We had both submitted productivity tips to an online publication. She sent an email asking for more details and examples. I quickly replied. A few days later, her thank you note arrived in my mailbox. That small gesture captured her style: Thoughtful. Sincere. Unique. Creative. And of course…memorable.

Remember: Everything you do positions you. How does your personal style position you?