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6 Strategies to reduce stress and increase focus

By | coaches, IMPROVE DAILY | One Comment

“Please don’t give me any more to do. I’m filled up!”

“I don’t have time to think about the long term for my family or my work. All I can do is handle what I have every day and every week.”

“My team keeps pushing back on me telling me that they are overwhelmed when I can see that they can probably cut down their hours and get more done.”

“Let me just get to my vacation . . . then I will feel better . . . well at least for a while.”

These statements are typical of what Sunil Bhaskaran hears from people who come to him for an initial coaching session. Sunil is a coach who specializes in brain-activated performance enhancement.

"Oversimplified Leadership" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Oversimplified Leadership” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Many of these great people are very competent and actually do produce results, but they’re overwhelmed. They wish they could reduce their stress and increase their productivity. They sometimes have a negative state of mind and feel like they’re not getting anywhere,” Sunil says.

Here are six ways to resolve these issues:

1. Manage the working part of your brain.

The part of your brain that is responsible for most day to day work is your prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is very inefficient in terms of memory and energy use. Every time you switch from one task to another or make a decision, your blood glucose level drops.

So if you make too many decisions or you switch from one task to another, you eventually burn out. Also with the reduced energy availability, your tendency to engage in distractions and impulses goes up as your prefrontal cortex is also responsible for resisting these urges or distractions.

Practice: Focus your time on projects that put more money and satisfaction back into your pocket. Put less focus and time into activities and projects that don’t.

"Stress and Overwhelm" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Stress and Overwhelm” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

2. Manage expectations.

You have a wonderful chemical in your brain called dopamine. It’s responsible for giving you feelings of motivation and confidence. The trouble with dopamine is that it responds to how you set up your expectations.

If you set up unrealistic expectations and you fail to meet these, your dopamine levels go down. This results in reduced motivation and confidence. The opposite occurs as well. If you set up realistic and win-able expectations for the day and you meet them, your dopamine, confidence and motivation all go up.

Which of the above situations do you prefer?

Practice: Set up realistic expectations daily. If you’re not accomplishing certain tasks or projects per day, cut down the number of tasks and/or break down projects to smaller more manageable chunks.

SuccessEqualsDriveSunilioBhaskaran

“Success = Drive” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

3. Put more oxygen into your future.

Sometimes you can’t avoid feeling overwhelmed due to family needs or emergencies. But it will probably pay off for you to be able to frame or create powerful reasons to relate to these crises better.

You may have noticed that people with similar backgrounds can go through similar situations but respond completely differently. While experiencing an increased workload, a death in the family, or other unexpected events, one person may be calm while another is in a state of panic. Genetics can play a part in this, but not all the time.

Most of the time, Sunil asserts, the differences are due to one being trained in a more compelling frame or context. One has a mission or vision and the other doesn’t. Having a mission or a frame empowers you with focus and the clarity to find solutions fast. It protects you from feeling overwhelmed.

CLICK HERE to buy More Money, More Time, Less Stress by Sunil Bhaskaran

Most people respond to crises or the feeling of being overwhelmed by referring to their past. Based on past occurrences, this situation is not going to go well at all. It’s much more useful is to start thinking about what it might look like from the future that you want to have happen.

Unless you take steps to boldly stimulate your thinking and actions towards the future, the default past based thinking will inevitably rule your life like a dictator that you don’t even know exists–because that dictator is automatic–so automatic that it escapes detection. Putting more oxygen in your thinking towards the future eventually will replace the past based thinking that keeps you stuck in a state of being overwhelmed.

Practice: Create a draft mission statement for yourself. Make it simple for now:

  • I communicate with my family from love and compassion.
  • In my business, I work for the betterment of my employees and clients pertaining to their financial well-being.

Keep your statement in front of you. Practice reading it twice a day and use it when you feel stuck or overwhelmed.

When you refer to the mission statement ask yourself, “What are my options to resolve this based on thinking from my mission statement instead of survival or comfort?”

"Getting to Know Yourself" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Getting to Know Yourself” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

4. Enjoy the benefits of outcome orientation.

People also get continually stuck by thinking about their work mostly in terms of actions instead of outcomes.

In his experience as a coach and business owner, Sunil has had the opportunity to observe himself and thousands of other people at work. He has observed that most people like to be in action even if their actions lack focus. It compensates (it seems) for the guilt that people feel about their lives. This drives people to try to appear like they are working hard. Never mind if they are actually producing results or not.

But then there are the wiser few who will work fewer hours and get equal or better results. This shift to outcome orientation comes through practice and dialogue.

Practice: Instead of creating a TO-DO LIST, create a TO-OUTCOME LIST. What results or outcomes will you produce today? Instead of saying you will make 50 phone calls today to prospects, say you will create at least two appointments (outcome) and at least three referrals (outcome).

"Restoring Integrity" by Sunilio Bhaskaran

“Restoring Integrity” by Sunilio Bhaskaran

5. Commit to structured practice and dialogue.

Sunil loves to coach because he passionate about working with people who are willing to do what it takes to increase focus and get to a higher level of performance.

In Sunil’s words, here’s what he does with his clients daily:

  • I dialogue through calls and email to identify the best outcomes to focus on for the day as well as what things to do so make sure we increase our chances of staying on track to the fulfillment of our mission and objectives. This dialogue is incredibly useful and effective while making life a lot more joyful and easier to deal with. Two heads committed to the same thing are better than one.
  • I suggest based on their outcomes how to fine tune their mission and their long term objectives if necessary. This creates an outstanding amount of clarity and power in their confidence regarding the fulfillment of mission and objectives.

Practice: Commit to practicing the above practices daily. Commit to hiring a coach who is willing to roll up his or her sleeves and work with you. 

ArtbySunilioBhaskaranTheGrantingOfBeing

“The Granting of Being” by Sunilio Bhaksharan is based on sweet memories of a woman mentor Sunil had more than 30 years ago. She taught him the value of compassionate listening. She sat silently but very attentively, absorbing everything he said without any judgment. She created a field where he could express anything he wanted.

6. Insist on learning to enjoy your life and your work.

Lots of people think you can’t have breakthroughs with conversation, but you can. Sometimes you can have some major breakthroughs after just a few conversations.

Practice: Do not tolerate long term suffering for another minute.

"If You Love It, Start It" by Sunilio Bhaskaran.

“If You Love It, Start It” by Sunilio Bhaskaran.

Sunil Bhaskaran is a former engineer who, many years ago, became interested in brain science as a vehicle for helping business owners and corporate professionals enhance their focus, creativity, confidence and performance in order to work smarter, not harder.

He has designed leadership, diversity, and accountability trainings for the corporate world. He has worked with Cisco, Comerica Bank, Compass Cares, JadooTV, Principal Financial Group, and Professional Convention Management Association, just to name a few.

Sunil Bhaskaran

Sunil Bhaskaran

He is the author of two books:

Sunil has more than 20 years experience working with business owners and professionals. He helps them make more money in less time. His programs also help committed business owners reduce their stress levels on average from a level 8-10 down to a level 2 in three to six months.

If you’re interested in having these results for yourself, connect with Sunil for an initial free coaching session at CahayaMind.com.

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Sick and tired of being stressed out? CLICK ON IMAGE to take the mental fitness challenge and gain the mental power and focus you need to achieve your goals. You can start living the life you’ve always wanted.

Get it done when life gets tough: Advice from Julie A Fast

By | authors, books, coaches, MIND | 4 Comments
Julie A Fast, Best Selling Author, Speaker, Columnist and Consultant

Julie A Fast, Best Selling Author, Speaker, Columnist and Consultant

I recently interviewed Julie A. Fast, a five time bestselling author, mental health in the workplace advocate, professional speaker and ePublishing pioneer. Julie has sold over 300,000 books, created her own radio show, was recently interviewed for People Magazine and was the original consultant for Claire Danes on the Showtime series Homeland. Julie does all of this while living with an illness that challenges and limits her work ability.

Julie’s bestselling book Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Your Life on Track shares the secrets of her success. I asked Julie, “How can we create a life where we are able to get things done even when life gets tough?” Her provocative and transformative answers changed the way I view my own work and I believe they can do the same for you.

There are people in life who can profoundly change the way we approach personal and professional challenges in a single conversation. Julie is one of these people. Throughout our conversation, Julie stressed the importance of having strategies in place we can use when life gets tough. She added, “Whether you’re going through stressful times due to relationship issues, work related worries and health concerns or even a feeling of hopelessness, your ability to take action and get things done doesn’t have to suffer as well.”

CLICK ON IMAGE TO BUY Get It Done When You’re Depressed by Julie A. Fast

Julie knows this from experience as she had to figure out a way to work successfully despite the limitations created by her bipolar disorder. I asked her how she gets so much done while faced with daily challenges and she shared four of the tips from her book Get it Done When You’re Depressed: 50 Strategies for Keeping Life on Track and how we can all apply them to our professional lives.

Julie replied, “You have to create a working world that fits your challenges in life. Because my bipolar disorder affects the type of work I do and the amount of time I’m able to work, I need systems in place that let me be successful despite my limitations. I knew that I had to become super efficient if I wanted to support myself on part time work, so I experimented with new ways to get myself out in the world and when they worked I knew it was time to share the strategies with others who struggle to stay professional and productive on the tough days.”

Julie told me she originally wrote the book for people who are depressed, but after years of comments about how the principles are so universal, she brought her ideas into the business world where she teaches professionals to stay focused and productive no matter what is happening in their personal lives.

I had a great time talking with Julie about her work philosophy. We had a lively discussion about the strategies in her book and how anyone can use them when an extra boost is needed to move forward in life. The following is an overview of how you can immediately apply Julie’s strategies to your life and learn to get things done whether you’re . . .

maze-cartoon

  • going through relationship difficulties
  • facing financial fears
  • in pain
  • low on the mental energy to work at your full potential
  • having focus and attention struggles

Just to name a few!

Here are four strategies Julie shared:

1. Don’t Wait Until You Want to Do Something

Julie’s life changed the moment she realized she could actually work even when seriously depressed. “I kept waiting to feel better to get started on a project. I thought I had to feel like working in order to work. The reality is that you don’t have to want to get things done, feel like working, feel good about your work or even believe you have the ability to do the work in order to move forward with a project. I taught myself to get started and wait for the positive feelings to come out of the work itself. We’re taught to base our actions off our feelings. But if you wait to feel like getting into action when life is tough, you won’t get much done. This always means the work is going to be harder to accomplish than when you’re feeling well, but at least you will have an end product when you work first no matter how you’re feeling.”

motivation-is-when-your-dreams-put-on-work-clothesJulie then explained that in the past on the days when a project felt so overwhelming she didn’t even know where to start, her brain would shut off and she would sit in front of her computer and cry in frustration. One day she thought, ‘What would happen if I just picked up my hands and started to write even though I don’t feel good or even feel capable of working? What if waiting until I feel better and want to write isn’t a good plan?’

She decided that getting something started was the only way to feel better and not the other way around. She realized she often wanted to keep working once the work progressed and that her mood was telling her she didn’t want to work when she actually did.

Julie doesn’t believe in motivation. Instead, she believes that on the tough days we will never feel motivated. She wrapped up this strategy with a statement I believe can change the way we see our professional lives. “I believe that action no matter how you feel creates the motivation needed to keep going. We often get it backwards,” Julie said.

2. Think Like an Athlete

Julie follows professional athletes intensely. She studies how they handle their wealth and personal relationships and yet still manage to get out on the field and do their work. She asked herself how successful professional athletes who are pulled in every direction can perform at a specific place and time under extreme pressure without letting their personal lives get in the way.

“Have you noticed that these athletes can be under unbelievable personal distress and yet still perform? I taught myself to do the same.” Julie realized that professional athletes know how to turn off the psychological noise and let the body do its job. Just like these top class athletes, Julie stressed we can also walk into pressure situations and no matter what we are feeling give the performance of our lives. She uses this technique for the basics such as cleaning her kitchen to the big events such as a keynote to hundreds of people.

Business Finish Line

Think like an athlete!

“On some days, especially before I got control of my illness, I would be crying on the way to an event, perform to my absolutely best ability and then go back to being depressed right after the event! I’ve learned to think like an athlete and give my best presentation on schedule. It allows me to perform no matter how I’m feeling. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can perform like a magnificent athlete when required,” Julie told me.

3. Wait to Judge Your Work

Julie told me the story of how she would try to work when not feeling her best and a voice would come up that said, ‘This work isn’t good enough. People will put it down. It’s not professional Julie!’ This created a feeling that the project she had to get finished wouldn’t be of high enough quality, so what was the point of even trying?

“Stress often leads to a self critical voice that will always judge your current work negatively,” Julie explained. “When life throws you a curve ball, you’re almost always incorrect if you judge your work in the moment. This is especially true if your challenges involve depression, anxiety or ADD symptoms. Waiting to judge my work until it was over saved my career. For example, when I have a speech, I remind myself to do my best and let the critical voice just float there on its own until it has no audience and has to leave! When I walk off the stage, I immediately say to myself, ‘Good job Julie. You can go through your work later and see where you need to improve, for now there is no judgment. Go meet your audience and enjoy yourself.”

Julie still hears the critical judgmental voice while she’s working, but it no longer gets to affect her work negatively. “I’ve gotten so good at this that I often don’t even look back at an event with criticism.” This strategy led to what she calls her big writing epiphany. “I realized the work I did when the judgmental voice was raging was just as good as the work I did when I was in the flow. I was depressed for a large part of the time I wrote Get it Done, but readers can’t tell at all. Listening to my judgmental voice while working was pointless as it was mostly lies!”

4. Be Your Own Drill Sergeant

I asked Julie for her favorite in the moment strategy to get things done. She chose 
Be Your Own Drill Sergeant as she told me it works on the worst days when you don’t even feel you can get out of bed and put your feet on the floor. “I’ve experienced severe depression for all of my adult life,’ Julie told me. “It’s great to have big ideas on how to get better, but I needed help on the days I was so depressed I could hardly lift a toothbrush.” Julie stressed that we all have days like this when life gets too overwhelming.

Be your own drill sergeant!

Be your own drill sergeant!

“If you’re going through a breakup or just lost your job, you need a way to keep going professionally. I had to find a way to break through my sadness and inertia in order to meet my contract deadlines and make money.”

Julie told me how many years ago when she was teaching herself to live with her illness she started to replace the hopeless thoughts with the intense and aggressive voice of a drill sergeant. “Get out of bed Julie Fast! Throw off the blankets, turn your body and put those feet on the floor!” This voice cut through the fog and got her body moving.

She then thought of how she could summon up a voice to help her on the days she couldn’t do it alone. I laughed when she told me her favorite voice, Scarlett O’Hara! “Ok Miss Julie. Fiddle dee dee. If I can save Tara, you sure as heck can fight this feeling and open that computer!” She now asks all of her audiences to conjure up their own drill sergeant whether it’s a beloved grandfather or a figure from a movie when they need that extra push to get started with the day.

Get-It-Done

After Julie shared her four strategies, I realized that I’ve also created tips to help myself through the days when my writing doesn’t flow or I feel overwhelmed with all of the work I need to do. She encouraged me to hone these strategies and make them a part of my work life so they will be there when I really need them.

Julie reminded me that her book and her work in general whether it be in a mental health or corporate context isn’t about learning her way of doing things. It’s about finding what works for us individually and then applying the strategies on the days we need that extra push to get started.

In the introduction to her book, Julie sums up the number one benefit of her book: “Getting things done is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself, which is automatically an antidote to depression.”

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

When you look through Julie’s book, you can see that her strategies are succinct and short to prevent adding more stress to an already difficult situation. I like that I didn’t have to read the entire book at once and am pleased that I can use her strategies while my life is going well, but I just need that extra nudge to start and stick to my goals.

Julie ended our interview with a final word of encouragement, “Get It Done When You’re Depressed isn’t about getting out of tough times. It’s about getting things done while you’re going through tough times. Then when life gets back to normal you don’t have to go back and repair your professional life. Instead, you can devote your energy to moving forward!”

We only covered four of the fifty tips in Julie’s book so I’m sure you can imagine how much more productive you can be when you learn them all. I encourage you to explore Julie’s other 46 strategies and change your ability to get things done starting today.

For more information on Julie’s work, please visit JulieFast.com. You can join her social media world on Twitter@JulieBipolar and read about her current ways of getting things done on her Facebook page Julie A. Fast. Julie’s books are available at all major bookstores and around the world on Amazon.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON IMAGE to gain the mental power to achieve your fitness goals. This is how you can begin living the life you've always wanted to live.

Sick and tired of not getting it done? CLICK ON IMAGE to begin your 90 day mental fitness challenge. You can start living the life you’ve always wanted!

How to write a book in 30 days

By | authors, coaches, education, POPULAR | No Comments

Have you been struggling for years to complete a book? If so, don’t worry. This is a common problem that many writers face. Are you ready for the secret of how to write a book in 30 days? “Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong. It’s that simple,” says Michael Ray King.

Michael has helped hundreds of writers get un-stuck and finish the books that have been in them for years. Here are some of the tips he recommends to his clients:

Find a good place to write.

Find a place that’s pleasing to you. It can change from day to day. When you purposely go to these places, you’re already starting. On your way there you start formulating things in our head. A lot of creative work is done before you even start writing.

“I like writing in a restaurant because it has a lot of white noise. I can’t write at home because there’s a lot of children noise I can’t ignore,” Michael says.

CartoonWritersBlockKing

Consider your sound environment.

Music is a good writing trigger, as long as you know what genre works best for you. “Music with words can be especially inspiring when you’re writing poetry. I get the melody and it helps me pick up meter. It’s a fun poetry exercise,” Michael says. “But if you listen to songs with music, be careful not to plagiarize.”

Stay with your passion.

This is the most vital aspect of writing any book. You have to love what you’re writing. You can’t do this if you’re questioning yourself all the time. It invites a critic and a judge. You may have to go back and review a few prior paragraphs to refresh where you are, but move on. You need to love your writing from the very beginning, from the first draft all the way through the marketing of it. 

The first draft doesn’t need to have good grammar and continuity. Some people don’t like chaos, but if you’re truly creating from the heart, your words will seem chaotic at first. The stuff you’re writing fresh off the cuff doesn’t match up with the edited stuff so if you try to edit when you write, it feels like there’s a bug in your writing. This can bring you to a halt. Save the editing for later.

Michael allows writers to talk about their issues. Lots of issues come down to the personal judge and critic. “Writers have set patterns like this and that’s exactly what they need to change,” Michael says. 

Use index cards.

“I press people to use index cards. Get a specific pen you identify with your writing,” Michael says. If you have something special you connect with your writing, such as a pen, a desk, or a set of index cards, it’s a trigger to start writing.

Too many people de-prioritize their writing. In order to get your writing done, you have to prioritize it. If not, everything else will take priority over it.

Begin with one card. Write the title of your book. Be creative. You can change it at any time. Working with index cards is an ongoing process. Make a card for each chapter and section of your book. You can continue adding and reorganizing the index cards the whole time you’re writing your book. You can continue to shift them around at any time. Interacting with the cards gives you a hands-on approach allowing you to tap into your internal creative nature.

“When you digitize things, you’re taking out the human element. By using cards, you’re stay in touch with your creativity. There are huge advantages with computers, but they can also distance you from your creativity,” Michael says.

MichaelRayKingIndexCards

Michael Ray King’s index cards for his book on How to Write a Book in 30 Days.

“I’ve had people do the cards in a different way, but that’s ok,” Michael says. He believes that if it works for you, then it’s right for you.

Lots of people take five or more years to write a book. You don’t need that much time to write most books. If you’re writing a historical fiction novel and have to do a lot of research, it’s going to take longer.

Write at least 750 words each day for 30 days.

“You have to get to the point where you want to write the book so much that you’re writing because you want to get your message out, not just because you want to meet your daily word count or complete an index card. For some it may feel somewhat of a selfish priority,” Michael says.

If you’re writing what you know, then you should be able to knock out a first draft quickly.Having a plan for completion is important. That’s one of the biggest benefits of deciding to write your book in 30 days. Michael holds classes and webinars on How to Write a book in 30 Days.

GoWriteAndYouWontGoWrongLogo

Address the critic and the judge separately.

“That sentence isn’t constructed well,” you might be telling yourself. “Who are you to think you can write a book? Who would want to read this?”

“Put these voices in solitary confinement prison until you’re done with your first draft,” Michael says. “These voices just get in the way of creativity. Nuke them. Blow them up. You never need the internal judge. These critics will rob you of your book. If it’s happened to me, it’s happening to other people.”

“I had a coach who put me to the grindstone. I’m a totally different kind of coach,” Michael said. “You can throw everything into your book. Overwrite. If you think it’s cool or if it’s your truth, just put in in there. If you think it might tick someone off and you decide to leave it out, then you’re not writing properly.”

“There’s lots of diversity out there. Not everyone is going to agree with you. If you write vanilla, you won’t get anywhere. Howard Stern and Connie West don’t have filters, but we place filters on our views. Your views have more credence than these guys. Don’t censor yourself when you have truths to put out there. Don’t hold back,” Michael says.

Lots of writers tend to want to read over their stuff before moving on, but avoid it. New writing is going to be rocky at best. Wait until you rewrite and edit before you smooth it all out. 

Calliope - Muse of Epic Song: Writing Tablet

Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry

Welcome the muse.

Some writers say “my characters took over my book,” When this happens, it means there’s some mystical thing going on. “This means that you’ve allowed yourself to let your creativity run wild. When you can do this and maintain it, it works,” Michael says.  

Some writers say, “The book practically wrote itself.” When this happens, it means you’ve been able to get past the critic and let the book out. The muse is a special writing phenomenon. “I’ve even done this with sports or ballroom dancing,” Michael said. “You can get in a mode when you feel like your actions are being channeled. You don’t know where it’s coming from.”

“You can’t induce a muse. But when she shows up you better get to the computer and write because when she goes away, you might not see her again for a while. You can feel great about your writing, but that time with your muse is special. In 14 years of writing, I’ve never been able to force the muse to show up,” Michael says. 

Goodreads has hundreds of quotes from famous writers all the way back to Aristotle and up to modern day people. If you’re feeling stuck, read some qoutes from famous writers. It can help you get un-stuck.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. E.L. Doctorow

“Don’t count on your muse. Even when she doesn’t show up, you need to get to the point where a day without writing is like a day without sunshine,” Michael says.

Don’t talk to non-writers about your book.

When you’re writing, especially a book, do not talk to non-writers about it. They will rob you of your zest. They won’t do it on purpose. If you give them a plot line, you beg the judge to come in. You might think, “that’s so much better than what I was thinking.” If they say “that’s been done before” then that will take the wind out of you. Tell people you’re writing a book, but don’t discuss the particulars of what it’s about. 

Find a trusted writers group.

Find a trusted writing support team with people who are actively writing. If you have synergy, it really helps. “That’s why my clients keep coming to class because it keeps them rolling,” Michael says. “It’s very motivational.”

“Lots of writing groups are social clubs. They’re not progressive. There’s often not enough encouragement to get your book out to market.” Michael says. “You have no business being in a critique group if you’re writing your first draft. If you do, it’s like asking the judge to destroy you. Most critique groups are nothing more than ego stroke groups. People will go in, read, and get feedback. It not only hinders the process time-wise, it handcuffs your creativity. It bottles you up. That’s what I’ve seen and learned. Let your horses run wild and then corral them. If you have a good editor later, that’s all you really need.”

Bridget Callaghan, Michael Ray King, Jeff Swesky and Nancy Quatrano at a Method Writers book launch event in Palm Coast, FL in October 2012

Bridget Callaghan, Michael Ray King, Jeff Swesky and Nancy Quatrano at a Method Writers book launch event in Palm Coast, FL in October 2012

Good writers groups encourage each other. “When I was a part of the Rogue Writers, the energy and synergy in those meetings were off the charts,” Michael said. “It’s a group that started in 2003. People in this group have written multiple books. When you’re around people who are really making it happen, you get caught up in it. That’s a good writing group.”

“You’re either a wanna be, a gonna be or an I am. There was a time when I was waffling between a wanna be and a gonna be. You want to get to that I am place. Write the book so you can say, I am an author. A good writers group will inspire this,” Michael says. “Being able to match personalities is critical. I hand picked people for the Rogue Writers. I wanted everyone to encourage each other and write books. We wrote together. Four of us wrote a novel together and a book of short stories.”

“You’ve got to be able to have fun together and still work. We’d play writing games. We’d laugh until we cried. Four people writing one novel is very interesting. You’ll sometimes see a collaboration of two people, but rarely four. We’d just sit there. We had a big timeline on the wall. If you make it too task oriented, there’s too much opportunity for friction and you squelch creativity,” Michael said. “Our meetings weren’t so much about sitting and writing. They were more about coming together to talk about what we had written.”

“I’m not a big fan of accountability to others. I think writers need to be accountable to themselves first. Set up a spreadsheet to track your word count toward the completion of your book,” Michael says. “I have a friend who posts her word count on Facebook. It’s her own accountability and can be inspiration to fellow writers at the same time. Word count isn’t the only measure, but it can be a barometer.”

Get a writing coach.

“I managed people for 20 years in retail. What I learned is that it’s a good thing to hire people better than me. I’m a big fan of personal coaches. A woman named Janice coached me in a business and personal way. We’d talk weekly to find a balance in life. She encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. The biggest thing she taught me was that you don’t have to know things intellectually. I know things from internal channels. When things line up, I know it’s right. I’m intuitive. Stop trying to force things and trust your instincts and move forward. When you have your internal talks, just started trusting yourself.  She took me out of programmed negativity and put me in positive state of mind,” Michael said.

“A book shouldn’t feel like a huge monstrosity. Most people can write their first draft in 30 days just by writing for about an hour a day,” Michael says. “It’s simple but not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. If you don’t finish it in 30 days and it takes 45 or 60, you’ll still be happy. I’ve found that about 20-25% of the people who take my class finish in 30 days. The bulk of the people finish in 45-60 days. Some take 90, and a few never finish at all,” Michael said.

After your book is written, it’s time to move on to the editing process.

How to write a book in 30 days: Write the draft before you edit

Michael Ray King is the author of Go Write and You Won’t Go Wrong: Write Your Book in 30 Days! He’s a five-time award winning author. In addition to conducting classes, he is also a personal writing coach. He lives in Palm Coast, Florida.

7 Tips on drugs from a personal medication consultant

By | coaches, healthcare

Are you busy taking care of your elderly parents? You may not understand everything that’s going on with their medications and the potential errors that might be happening. Do you want to help keep your parents as healthy as possible, but you feel confused with all the information and don’t have enough time or expertise to find all the answers?

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More than half of Americans 65 and older take five or more prescription medications at any given time APhA. If you, or someone you know, is taking multiple prescriptions, you’ll want to read on. Getting advice from a personal medication consultant could help you reduce your risk of adverse drug interactions or possibly even save your life!

Dr. Carrie Fu is a personal medication consultant who has a passion for senior medication wellness and healthcare management.

“I help people set goals to manage their health and embrace life without being dependent on drugs. I also help people avoid risks that result from medication errors and oversights.” Dr. Fu said.

Here are some general guidelines from Dr. Fu:

1. Stick with one pharmacy.

This way, all your drug information is based in one place. When you go to multiple drug stores, they don’t have your complete medication history so they can’t check for drug interactions.

2. Keep a list of all your medications.

Each person should have a personalized medication list, not only their current medication, but also their past meds. You can type up a document or just write it down. You should give your medication list to all your providers, including your pharmacist, dentist, acupuncturist, primary care physician, or anyone who is providing your health care. Dr. Fu recommends that you check the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists website for an online form to record your Medicine List. For additional tips, refer to Helping patients keep and up-to-date medication list from the American Pharmacist Association.

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3. Get a consultation every time you pick up a prescription.

Ask for a pharmacist consultation before you take your prescription. Find out how to best take it. It’s always a good idea to ask the pharmacist if there’s anything in particular you need to watch out for.

  • Are there any side effects?
  • How long do I need to take this?
  • Should I take it with or without food?

4. Take into consideration over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.

A lot of people don’t realize that vitamins are like medicine. If you take too many vitamins you could get a kidney stone, for example. Or if you’re taking a thyroid medication you need to know that you shouldn’t take calcium supplements within four hours NIH MedLinePlus.

5. Don’t abruptly stop medications for chronic conditions.

If you want to taper off or discontinue your medication, it’s critical that you consult with your doctor, pharmacist or a specialist. If you abruptly stop taking your blood pressure medication, for example, you increase your risk of having a stroke.

6. Have one medical professional who has access to all your medication history.

Medication errors can happen when a patient moves from one location to another. Problems often arise when patients change care between a hospital and a retirement home.

7. Know your rights, resources and benefits.

It’s important to get more involved with your own healthcare. You can start by going to AHRQ for suggestions on how to ask questions and talk to your clinicians. It’s also important to understand your drug prescription benefits under Medicare Part D.

Dr. Carrie Fu

Dr. Carrie Fu

Dr. Carrie Fu is a consulting pharmacist who specializes in personal medicine and Medication Therapy Management (MTM). As a medication consultant, she helps her clients understand their medication and feel well.

Even if you have a chronic condition, you can still be well. She helps people to be as healthy as possible from a medication perspective. She wants to help her patients be in the best health by taking the least amount of medications. Whether you have diabetes, high blood pressure or another chronic condition, Dr. Fu can help improve your medication regimen.

Health is your #1 asset. She helps people to embrace life without being dependent on medications. There’s no magic bullet, but there are always options. She’s a health coach who focuses not on your illness, but on creating more wellness in your life. She is also on the provider panel at Doctor Quickly. To set up your own personalized medication consultation, contact Dr. Carrie Fu.

Food biz coach offers 9-step process for edible startups

By | BUSINESS, coaches, cooking, restaurants | One Comment

“Most food entrepreneurs suck at marketing and sales . . . and most don’t know how to launch their business,” says Mari-Lyn Harris, a food entrepreneur coach based in Silicon Valley. But if you get help from an expert, you increase your odds of succeeding. Here’s her 9-step recipe for success to help you launch your tasty idea:

1. Start where you are.

So you’ve decided to start a food business? Maybe someone inspired you. Mari-Lyn wanted to start a pie business as a vehicle for social change. She explored the idea, but had to figure out how to get the product into the marketplace. Her neighbor was going to have a garage sale every weekend for a month, so she set up a little table at the garage sale. She got people to sample her pies.

PieChartCartoonStarting where you are means that you have to get people to sample your product. By starting where you are, you begin by figuring out how to get your product into the hands of customers. Find ways to get your product to more people so they can try it. Mari-Lyn calls it “the five-minute bite.” You can do home parties. Just like when you go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, you sample the food. They know if you like it, you’re more likely to buy it.

Mari-Lyn empowers food entrepreneurs to move forward. Your inner voice may be telling you that you can’t do it or you can’t afford it. But you have to challenge yourself.

“You may not know where to go or how to get started. You may not know where the money will come from, but if you have a great family recipe or great food idea, reach out for help. Don’t give up until the means and resources show up,” says Mari-Lyn.

2. Create your vision.

It’s important that you create a vision for yourself and your business. It gives clarity, direction and buy-in from other people. If you don’t begin with your vision, all your good intentions will be scattered and nonproductive.

A vision statement is more important than your mission. You need to know where you want to go with your idea. Make your vision statement the business you want to grow into. It’s the dream you’re going after. What does it look like? Can you clearly describe it to others?

Cultured Gourmet's Kraut Source

Cultured Gourmet’s Kraut Source

3. Test your product.

Give people free samples and ask for their feedback. Get feedback from people outside your friends and family. If you have a product for weddings, for example, you can offer samples to people who are getting married and caterers to see if they like your product. If not, don’t be offended. Just ask them why. It’s useful feedback.

To test your product, you have to find a way to do it underground. Reach out to professionals to give you a review of your product, such as food bloggers or people who write about food products. Then you can know if your product may be well received.

Engage your customers. You have to deliver for them what they want. Let your customers be your advocates.

To get into a farmer’s market, food truck or market, you have to be licensed. You don’t want to do that right away until you know your product will be viable.

4. Have an audience.

You may have a great idea, but it doesn’t mean it will work. You need to keep testing your product and get feedback from potential customers. Narrow in on your “tribe.”

A lot of food entrepreneurs think that everyone is their audience, but it’s not so. Mari-Lyn discovered that men like pies more than women, but women are the ones who buy pies for the men in their lives. Your research helps you discover who will buy your product. “This is your tribe.”

5. Set up a sales and marketing strategy.

Marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing is the promotion and buzz of your product. Sales is when you actually sell a product or service.

Sales is not a negative or dirty word. It’s about developing relationships with people to get sales. A sale won’t happen until you speak to people. Technology can’t do this for you. You may have great pictures and descriptions on your website, but this isn’t enough. You can use technology, but you also need to have someplace where they can buy and then taste it. It’s all about relationships and getting to know your customers.

Marketing is the key component in any business. Mari-Lyn recalls working with a client who put together a flyer, but it didn’t say how to get in touch with him. And when she checked his website, there was no email or way to contact him.

He had an ineffective marketing materials. When you don’t have a thought-out marketing plan, it’s easy to forget simple things like this.

A sales and marketing strategy will help you execute. The strategy is the layout of action steps you’re going to take to get the marketing done that drives your sales.

6. Build a marketing map.

You have to know your audience before you build your marketing map. This is a plan. Find some customers and build your plan at the same time. Your marketing map can be simple. It’s your hub.

From your hub, you have different tactics or action steps to reach out to your tribe. You write out how you’re going to do it. You develop content to help deliver the message about your product. You don’t need a business plan unless you’re going after funding.

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Let’s take, for example, a personal chef. You may not know how to get your services out in the market place, but the marketing map helps you to develop your business easily. You may want to blog, for example. The blog helps you educate your future customers on how to prepare food or get to know you better.

5 Essential appliances for easy healthy meals

You can blog about how you help your customers. For example, one chef discovered that his client was lacking in magnesium so he prepared foods with more magnesium which helped her feel better. If you decide to blog, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Who will participate in writing content?
  • How will you get new content on a regular basis?
  • How will you share the information?

Many people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to go. The marketing map gives you clarity in knowing your next step and how to effectively use your time.

7. Get sales.

Put your sales strategy to work. When someone eats your food, you want them to have a great experience when they taste it. You want it to be memorable. You want people to say, “this is incredible,” or “I love this!” The sales part happens when people buy that taste and experience.

TrustYourHeartKindleeBookMari-LynHarrisOnce you have a small tribe, you can develop partners who can help you get more sales. As a startup you may not have a large budget, so the quickest way is to develop collaborative partnerships.

Building relationships with people will help you get sales. Mari-Lyn worked with Marnie Pherson and 23 other business builders. Each wrote a chapter in the book about leveraging relationships. It reached the Amazon Best Sellers list in March 2012.

Have you ever though about writing a cookbook? Books help give you authority. When you collaborate with others toward a common goal, you often get there much faster than going solo.

Mari-Lyn offers workshops on “someone you ought to meet.” She helps her clients develop partnerships who can help them get sales.

8. Get help if you need it.

If you don’t have the resources or people in your community, then join other groups for support. If you live in the Silicon Valley area, you can join the Food Entrepreneur networking group hosted by Food 4 Social Change, which is a cluster of food professionals such as manufacturers, chefs, suppliers and vendors. Everyone can help each other.

9. Execute your strategy.

Executing your marketing strategy is picking something that’s a tool. Who will do what. How will I execute it? It’s all about the who, what, when, where why, how. It’s usually a series of tactics to get things done. Whether it’s your marketing or sales strategy, the execution is all about the who, what when, where why how.

Wally Amos, the legend behind Famous Amos Cookies and founder of the Cookie Kahuna, was featured in the August 2014 issue of Costco Connection magazine. His and his partner came to a point where they had different ideas about how to execute their business plan. He decided to stick with his original plan and grow his company organically.

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

To him, focus means that you need to follow one course until you’re successful.

Whether you’re a caterer, a food-truck owner, a specialty food maker, or even Wally “Famous Amos,” most food entrepreneurs lack the sales and marketing skills they need to succeed. But Mari-Lyn can help.

Mari-Lyn Harris is a business consultant who has been coaching entrepreneurs since 1996. She coaches food startups to build out customized plans for their future. Mari-Lyn is also the Founder and CEO of Food 4 Social Change. The vision is to create jobs by assisting food entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams of a bold and vibrant business community. One of the things Food 4 Social Change offers is a business networking group to help create a vibrant food community.

Call Mari-Lyn at 510-564-7880 to help you develop your customized marketing map.

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8 Great tips for entrepreneurs to create a winning pitch

By | BUSINESS, coaches | One Comment

One of the richest men on earth, Bill Gates, says “half of Silicon Valley startups are silly.” He’s right, though perhaps a bit blunt. According to Microsoft‘s founder, plenty of great sounding one-line ideas won’t actually work.

GatesMicrosoftKindleBookCoverStay out of the “silly 50%” category by sharing your idea with a proper pitch. Whether your vision is a Facebook-size epic or a thriving brick and mortar business, it’s absolutely critical to get clear on your value proposition, competitive advantage and growth strategies. And do it early! How? Prepare a winning pitch.

“Pitching utterly focuses your mind to discover and prove the assumptions behind your idea,” says Roy Terry, a professional pitch coach based in the heart of Silicon Valley. Read on for his tips on how to pitch smarter, learn faster and build your dream.

1. Understand the goal of your pitch.

A pitch is a call to arms. You have a just cause to create a good result in the world and you’re asking others to share in your triumph. You want them to feel that it’s good for them to get involved. The goal is to motivate your audience to take action through logic plus emotion.

Emotion is more powerful than logic. Logic gets you in the door, but emotion gets you the business. The best starting point to generate emotion through your unique exciting idea. You want to pitch the “wow factor” of your idea. Ultimately it’s emotion that moves people to buy your product.

2. Use short colorful phrases to make your pitch stick.

It’s a common short-fall of many people to use long sentences. Punctuate your pitch with short sentences that carry your message. Mixing sentence styles and pace literally changes the listeners’ openness to receive your message. Remember to slow down and instead of giving explanations, make a crisp statement. Streamline your message to win converts.

3. Use a winning structure.

A pitch takes the audience from troubles to triumph. Start with a 15-second sound bite that captures the what of your company. Explain how you deliver value to specific customers. Then describe the problem.

Remember, the flip-side of every problem is an opportunity. Are there enough people who care enough about this issue? Incorporate a story to illustrate why this problem is important to a lot of people. Show how your solution solves the problem. Make it practical, unique and superior.

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4. Incorporate story.

The most fertile ground for your pitch is a personal story. Tell people how you found the vision for your business. A problem is like a bear. You want them to feel the sense of an agitated bear in the room. Your solution calms the bear or makes him go away entirely. People have lots of bears in their lives, but they don’t have the time or know-how to make them all go away.

The second fertile ground is the story of how you realized that your solution was the winner. Tell a story about how a customer expressed their enthusiasm or gratitude for your solution. Make sure each anecdote has a conflict and resolution.

5. Rehearse with adult supervision.

Your peers and best friends don’t have the best perspective. Seek a friendly senior advisor and take their advice. Ask your expert if they would repeat your pitch to someone else. It’s best to get advice from a number of people, but if you work with an pitch expert, he or she can help you quicker. As you develop the pitch, incorporate changes based on audience response.

The man in this video won the “worst ever pitch and product on BBC Dragons’ Den.”

Here are some of the common errors he made in his infamous pitch. He failed to do the following:

  • provide an overview of his business hypothesis that could have demonstrated savvy or credibility
  • convincingly demonstrate a large or serious problem
  • convey unique value and defendable advantage of the technology
  • respond flexibly to questions and criticism

6. Be approachable and willing to learn.

The purpose of your pitch is to motivate the audience, so be responsive to their viewpoint and willing to acknowledge and value their suggestions. When they view you as an expert collaborator who can help them solve their problem, calm their bears, they’re likely to engage.

7. Make your pitch a feel-good celebration.

This point relates to both structure and story-telling. You start with a serious problem and in the end, you offer a great solution. A great pitch is the ultimate feel-good story where the good guy wins in the end. Make your feel-good story extend into future solutions for more and more people.

8. Make it easy to follow up.

Offer at least two ways for people to take action. A pitch without an invitation is flat. A pitch needs to be about the future. Let them know what you want them to do. In traditional advertising this is your call to action (CTA).

Check out this vintage pitch of Steve Jobs introducing the iPod. It’s an oldie, but a goody.

In this pitch, Jobs covers all the usual persuasive points. However, since he’s speaking as a famous person with an iconic and legendary company, he can skip some steps. Nevertheless, here’s what Jobs does well:

  • SteveJobsKindleBookCoverOverview: It’s Apple introducing a new product. He explains in simple and compelling terms how the retail music device business is ripe for disruption.
  • Problem: All the existing devices have serious capacity, expense and convenience issues. There is no market leader.
  • Solution: An easy-to-use Apple MP3 device with CD quality that gives you 1000 songs in your pocket.
  • Business Model: In a consumer pitch, the business model consists of making adoption easy, addressing pragmatic questions such as: How fast will it charge up? Will it work with my computer? How much does it cost? Jobs provides smooth answers to all the basic questions.
  • Ask: The CTA is omitted because we already know it’s a sales pitch and the CTA is “buy one.”

Just in case you’re looking for a more current-day pitch, check out this winning startup pitch that Vurb did at TechCrunch DISRUPT:

 How to accomplish a big goal: Get in the right position

Roy Terry, The Primal Pitch

Roy Terry, The Primal Pitch

Roy Terry is a professional pitch coach who has served numerous startups in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. He serves both local and visiting overseas companies. He offers pitch-coaching sessions from time to time at Hanhai Investments. Roy’s clients include HP, Oracle, Talenttoday, PageyourselfPriceMatch and others. Roy is trained as a public speaker and NLP practitioner. He incorporates knowledge and practice from stage acting and hypnosis.

You probably already have a great value proposition. Now it’s time to create a pitch that motivates people to choose you. A great pitch is logic plus emotion. Call or email Roy at The Primal Pitch to build your winning pitch together.

 

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SIX DATING TIPS for women in search of Mr. Right

By | coaches, love | No Comments

“I’ve been alone for 16 years. Where are all the good men?” Cindy asked.

“How many of them do you want?” Patricia asked.

“Just one,” Cindy said.

“We can make this happen,” Patricia assured her. Patricia is a psychic dating coach and she knew that Cindy was going to meet someone. For the next 40 minutes Patricia guided her on how to meet the right man.

Patricia saw that Cindy’s number one criteria was a man with deep pockets. She was accomplished herself, and she wanted a man who was equally successful. She had a deep fear of being saddled with a fraud and ending up with his debt.

Lovers card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Lovers tarot card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Although Cindy was able to meet men who appeared to have money, she always wondered if they were truly affluent. She really needed to know if a man was truly financially secure or just putting on a front. Patricia encouraged Cindy to have an intelligent conversation, as if she were talking to a banker. Patricia’s intuition served Cindy’s needs.

Cindy met with Patricia again about six months later. When she arrived, Cindy was so elated that she seemed to be floating across the room. She held out her hand showing Patricia a diamond that was the size of an almond. She met her dream man in a casino in Las Vegas. When the time came, she had a conversation about his financial situation and the man was just what she was looking for. Cindy was ecstatic with Patricia’s coaching!

If you’re searching for a man, here are a few dating tips for women from the Dating Diamonds expert, Patricia Fuqua:

1. Understand yourself so you can know who you want to fall in love with.

“What makes you the kind of person a man would want to be with? You need to know what you want to attract and what you want to experience,” Patricia says.

Too many women think about what they don’t want instead of what they do want. Know what your strengths are in a relationship and what your attitudes are.  This is how you will attract the emotions and experiences you’re looking for. You can attract what you want, but you have to live it and believe it.

2. Be positive.

“Are you exuding positive affirming energy? Some women don’t realize that their negative thinking and attitudes about men are keeping them single. Negativity comes from past experiences that were emotionally or physically traumatic, but each relationship is new,” Patricia tells her clients. “There’s no value in carrying old baggage into new relationships.”

Online Dating Magazine Cartoon tips women

It’s important to be aware of how you’re approaching men and how you feel about them. You have to to be able to shift your energy to be more positive and see the possibilities in them. You must believe that a new relationship can be positive and open yourself up to finding the man of your dreams. Manifesting your Soulmate happens through the Law of Attraction.

3. Know the types of men you want to avoid.

“Do you know your deal-breakers? My clients often tell me they’re looking for chemistry, someone who’s hot or has these types of clothes or looks, but what they need to know is that looks and bodies sometimes come with addictions or cruelty. Just because a guy is good-looking doesn’t mean he’ll be a good protector or provider,” Patricia warns her clients.

It’s easy to become attracted to someone who seems exciting or hot, but he can’t fully support you when he’s consumed by chasing other things. Whether he’s bodybuilding at the gym every day or has some other extreme passion that takes priority in his life, he’ll always leave you wanting.

Tiger Woods cheated

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If you know yourself and what you want to experience, going after the hot sexy guy who’s emotionally unavailable can be counterproductive. Know the types of men you want to avoid. Deep down, most women are looking for an alpha-man to love and protect them.

4. Have a strategy to keep focused in your search.

“What is your relationship goal? Do you want a partner, a boyfriend, a husband or just a one-night stand? Be clear. Once you know what you want, you can align your strategy to achieve it. You know how to present yourself on dates, speak the part and appeal to the kind of man who wants what you’re searching for,” Patricia says.

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

This increases your chances because your actions are aligned with your goal. If a guy thinks you’re dressed like a slut, he’s not going to look at you as wife material. You have to be ready and open all the time when you go out. Align everything toward your goal.

5. Be patient and compassionate.

“When cute fades, what have you got? You may wish you could order a man like you order a customized coffee at Starbucks, but it isn’t going to happen. When your searching for someone you want to fall in love with, it’s important to be patient. It’s all a numbers game.”

Online services have lots of men and some sign up for multiple sites. Before you sign up for an online dating service, carefully consider how you portray yourself. Focus on classic qualities. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to know the personality categories you’re looking for and men that are compatible with yours.

Abstract qualities have outward signs. Learn to notice the clothes men wear, the speed of their thinking, their movements, and their approach with women. These are indicators you want to watch for to decide whether or not you should go on a second or third date.

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6. Get a coach or participate in a support group.

Do you trust your natural intuition? Think about all the chatter that goes on in your mind. It helps to get the conversations out of your head when you talk with others who have your best interest at heart. Although women can perceive that a relationship isn’t going to work in the long run, they’ll often go on dating guys, even though they know they’re dead end relationships. You need to be nice to others, but also avoid wasting time or getting your heart broken. Stay focused on your ultimate goal.

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“Everything is energy and vibrates at different frequencies. If you have been attracting men who don’t work out in relationships, you know that it’s a sign for you to increase your vibration through shifting your belief about what kind of partner suits you. When you love and appreciate your qualities and your peace, the quality of men that you attract will improve,” Patricia says. “The natural Law of Vibration says that like attracts like. What are you like?”

Patricia Fuqua Dating Diamonds

Both women and men fantasize about relationships. Make sure that you’re present, listening carefully and paying attention when you’re with a man, as well as paying attention to how you feel when you aren’t. It’s important to have a sounding board. Patricia helps women understand what they want to experience and how to attract the right men into their lives.

If you’re one of those women who has made massive mistakes in the past and want to change your dating destiny, call Patricia at 650-877-2563. If you live in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area, you can schedule a private consultation in person with Patricia or attend one of her MeetUps.

 

CLICK HERE to buy Patricia’s book now.

Life Lessons I Learned From World Champ Darren LaCroix

By | coaches, PEOPLE | 4 Comments

“I moved to Vegas,” said road warrior Darren LaCroix. “My goal was to be so good that I could sleep in my own bed more often.” He went on to share countless personal stories of his own struggles and successes, including the fact that he flew into San Jose earlier today and had to leave shortly after the presentation for his flight back home to Las Vegas. This ironic conflict is just the sort of thing that captures audiences.

2014-06-18 Darren Lacroix sitting

World Champion Darren LaCroix

I’m so glad I showed up to hear Darren speak at Symantec! In less than two hours I picked up more than a dozen valuable life lessons from him. Here’s what I learned from this down-to-earth entertaining world champ:

1. Keep a story file.

Keep notes on things that happen to you throughout your life, even stories that are difficult to share. For each story, think about what point you can illustrate. Here’s how to become a good communicator: tell a good story, make a point. Repeat.

2. Collect quotes.

Collect quotes that inspire you. Read one every day for a dose of inspiration or motivation. If you don’t have time to collect quotes, sign up for Darren’s favorites at 365InspirationalQuotes.com.

3. Become a student of self-development.

Darren grew up with a club foot and it affected his self-esteem as a child. “Toastmasters didn’t just change my speaking. It changed my life,” says Darren. Join an organization that can help you reach your goals. “Two percent of people are funny . . . and I don’t like them either,” says Darren. The rest of us have to read books like Stand-Up Comedy: The Book to learn to be funny.

4. Let go of being perfect.

Share stories about your failures, your flaws and your firsts. Not only are they a source of humor, it’s also a great way to help others who can be encouraged by hearing the struggles you’ve gone through. Who knows, you may even become someone’s hero!

5. Be heroic by living out your passion.

You impact people more by the life you’re living than the speech your giving. People aren’t looking for speakers. They want heroes. “Heroes are imperfect individuals striving to be heroic by carrying out the things their passionate about,” Darren said.

6. Every interaction is important.

Darren shared a story about his grandfather who was a school crossing guard. He changed lives by the way he made people feel. Everyone who went to that school remembered him.

7. Change your habits to change your finances.

Your finances won’t change unless you change. Darren shared his recent experience of participating in a Dave Ramsey‘s Take Control of Your Money Program. Whether you want to eliminate debt or increase your income, you can begin today by setting goals and changing your habits to reach your goals. “If you want to live like no one else, you have to live like no one else,” Ramsey advises.

8. Keep going.

Want to know the secret of the people who succeed? The answer is simple. It’s whoever keeps going. Darren shared his story of studying 90 videos of world class speakers so that he could discover the difference between the people who came in 2nd place and those who came in 1st place. When you want to accomplish something, you’ve got to stay with it until you reach your destination. In 2001, Darren became the World Champion of Public Speaking with his Ouch speech.

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix letter from Ron LeGrand9. Get a personal coach.

Get help from an expert to gain the skills you need to do what you’ve been longing to do. Darren shared his story about hiring Ron LeGrand, “the millionaire maker,” to help him learn the art of improving his sales pitch. Ron shot back with some very harsh criticism, but it was exactly what Darren needed to learn. “Great coaching expedites the process,” Darren says.

10. Don’t blame other people for anything.

After four years of business school, Darren invested $60,000 in opening his own Subway franchise. He did this despite the fact that his attorney advised him not to. After another Subway opened up four miles down the road, his business took a dive. Darren had to let all but one of his employees go and he, himself, had to work from 9 am – 1 am seven days a week. In just six short months, he doubled his debt. He ended up selling the business at a loss, but it was one of the biggest lessons he learned in his life. Not only did it up the ante on his personal work ethic, it also gave him a deep sense of personal responsibility for his decisions. Your woes can lead to your audience’s wows!

11. Build more stories by doing more.

Live more stories. Don’t worry about whether they’re going to turn out good or bad. As a communicator (or speaker), your stories are your assets. Because Darren was learning comedy, he got to know all the Boston headliners. He developed relationships with lots of local comedians. These comedians gave him a big inventory of ideas and it helped him on his own journey of adding more humor to his persona.

12. Tell your stories.

Your stories are gift cards. When you don’t tell them, they go unredeemed. Darren mentioned that in one year Best Buy had $16 million in gift card “breakage” (gift cards that go unredeemed). “How many lessons have you learned that you’ve never shared?” Darren asked. Most people never share their most valuable stories. The only way to redeem your value is to you give your lessons and stories away to others. “If you want to speak like no one else, you have to live like no one else,” Darren advises.

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix at Symantec

Darren LaCroix sharing “how to impact lives through stories” at Symantec in San Jose, CA

13. Life is like a video game.

There are wolves out there who will try to eat you up, but they’re just sheep in wolf outfits. When you face challenges, you often fall down a level to learn something before you can climb up a ladder to get to the next level. Darren calls these “life lesson ladders.” In life and in games, you can fail many times and get back up with even greater strength and knowledge. But you only have one real life to live, so make sure you’re playing the game to the fullest!

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix Gift Card

Next time a world champ or hero comes to your town, break out of your normal routine and go out of your way to hear him or her. Although I considered staying home this evening, I’m sure glad I ventured out to hear Darren LaCroix speak. I had a good excuse not to go: I had already heard him speak years ago in Florida and I had already purchased his Laff Pack that kept me laughing for months afterward.

A Toastmasters Champion Who Will Lift You Up

Darren reminded his (Toastmasters International) audience that we give others a gift when we tell our stories, especially those that involve hardships or failure. When we share them, we help others and, in some cases, we even become heroes! Darren was undoubtedly a hero to me and many others in the audience this evening!

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix and Lorraine

Darren LaCroix and Dr. Lorraine in San Jose, CA

As a fellow Toastmaster, it’s my duty to give Darren a suggestion to improve his speech. He gave us a brief synopsis of his 17 Minutes to Your Dream commitment. I believe he would have given his audience a bigger gift if he encouraged each of us to set out on a similar course of action by committing a certain amount of time each day to turn our dreams into our realities . . . to take those steps after our Ouch. “If you’re willing to learn, you can do anything,” Darren says.

Do you want to be a super hero? If so, what are you doing to become that hero?

Do you want to be a world champ? If so, what actions are you taking on a daily basis to become that champion?

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