Episode 30: Have You Overcome Adversity?

Todd Drake from LinkedInThe Scottish philosopher, Thomas Carlyle said, “Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes jewels with.”  Everyone has some kind of adversity in their life at some point. Some things are extremely visible to others; sometimes it’s not so easily seem by a bystander. However, no matter what way it shows up still can derail you. It’s a choice to face it and figure out a way to work it out. Sometimes we can figure it out on our own; sometimes we need some help.

My guest today, Todd Drake, overcame adversity from an early age.  His story is inspiring.  Todd has taken their small family business and turned it into a multi-million international wholesale and retail jewelry and manufacturing enterprise. He is a competitive athlete, too, and enjoys a great game of baseball when he can pry himself away from his business.

Episode 29: What Problem Have You Solved Lately?

Necessity is the mother of invention” is an English-language proverb. It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need. Many of us think this way naturally; it is easy for us to think of many different ways to solve a situation.  Thank goodness we have entrepreneurs who think like this – they see a need and start figuring out how to solve the problem. Some are true-blue inventors; others are more situational and are great at problem solving between people.

Which one are you? What problem have you solved lately?

My guest today, Sharon Caswell, is just such a thinker.  From leading software development programs that have solved problems related to logistics to credit card payment processing, she recently took on wearable technology for horses.  As a life-long horse lover and trained as a software engineer. Sharon holds the reins at PonyUp Technologies.  Tune in to hear her story of developing a healthcare monitoring systems for equine patients.

Episode 26: How Well do You Communicate Your Whole Image?

LauraLewis800by800While we think of communication as being either spoken, digital or written, there is a lot we can convey and communication with our image and our presence.  How you look and the feelings you project are just as much a set of messages as those that are on your website, in your social media or in the things you write and speak. Albert Einstein said: “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.  I pick friendly.”

Today’s guest is Laura Lewis.  Laura is a speaker, national radio and TV personality, producer, expert guest, spokesperson for national brands, author and founder and CEO of Odyssey Star (formerly Laura Lewis Media). Laura’s company specializes in branding, publishing and promotion.  A pioneer in the realm of live simulcasting and web streaming, her Net Talk Live was the world’s first live triple cast and has a catalogue of over 200 episodes.

Episode 25: It’s All About Face-to-Face Communication

Bio photo with Paul

While we live in a world of digital communication systems , methods, and devices, when it all comes down to it, to expand your world, personal interaction is where these encounters should all end up.  Texting, posting and even phone calls usually are nothing more than precursors to having a one-on-one meeting with someone.  It is there you will either make a connection or know to call it off. When you can feel the grip of a handshake, hear inflection in a voice and look into someone’s eyes, you begin the process of getting to know someone better.

As the saying goes, people do business with people they know, like and trust.

Today’s guest is Paul E. Maynard, also known as The Relentless Networker.  With years of experience as a trade show professional, public speaker and writer, he knows, and has proven, that meeting up in person is how you make the best, and ultimate, connection with a prospect, client or friend.

Trade show and events professional (inventor of the NDCC’s Big D BBQ Battle). Networking guru (The Relentless Networker). Business consultant. Writer. Chamber of commerce executive. Children’s book author. Animal advocate (@harrydiscovers). These are a few of the titles Paul has earned during his career.

Episode 24: Are You an Effective Digital Communicator?

Cindy5Today’s major channels of communication are largely digital–mobile devices, website, text messages, streaming video.  While the best and most effective communication is still face to face, it really is up to us all to find the best way to reach out and engage others no matter the platform, medium or message.  Since “Coffee with Claire” basically lives on the internet and mobile devices, I thought it would be fun to invite a digitally-savvy professional in to tell us about some of the trends as well as educate us on how to create fun and excitement as we communicate with one another.

Cindy Baccus is an author, board member, a leadership coach, and, most recently, the owner of Outtathebox Marketing.  With a background that includes education, child care, publishing and retail, she instructs business owners how to best utilize social media and digital marketing.

Episode 23: How do you communicate?

Are you musical? How do you use your talent? In this episode, Sir Earl Toon, of Kool and the Gang, shares his story and his life’s philosophy.

Episode 22: Coffee With Claire with Susan Hamilton

About the Show with Guest Susan Hamilton

Episode 21: Higher Percentage Choices

In life, there are rules that we follow.  Sometime we do follow them; sometimes we don’t.  I have to admit I sometime go over the speed limit, but I blame my car.  What we do really boils down to choice, isn’t it?  I chose to leave ten minutes later that I originally planned and now I have to speed to get to my appointment on time.  I also chose to create stress and risk.  It’s a choice. Is it the best choice?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Maybe I had a deadline I had to make for an article, and I had to get it done before I left.  Maybe I got on Facebook and forgot about the time.  Choices, choices, choices!

In improv we have what are called higher and lower percentage choices.  All choices are accepted (remember the Yes, and rule we have discussed before?) Any rule of improv can be broken and not tank the scene.  However, it’s always a higher percentage choice to follow the rules.  We already have quite a bit of risk when we just get on stage for improv; why make it even harder by breaking the rules?  When you make a choice to break a rule, you are increasing the number of risks in the scene.

In the short form of improv that we do, we typically have 3 – 4 minutes to create the scene for the audience.  This means we need to work together to build the who, what, where and hopefully the why of the scene, make it move forward and have a beginning, middle and end; create our characters and have them interact in a believable situation, while taking care that we are making sure everyone in the scene looks brilliant.  Oh yeah, and making the audience laugh!  All of this while having no idea what the suggestion from the audience will be – so no pre planning can take place!

It’s easier to make the higher percentage choice for everyone in the group.  Those are the choices that have the higher percentage of a bigger payoff (Laugh quotient).   Even by making the higher percentage choices there is still a risk that the scene is missing something else and falls somewhat flat.  We never know until the Director calls the scene.  However, making the higher percentage choice is ways to somewhat hedge your bet.

We are always talking about giving each other “gifts” in improv – even “mistakes” are considered gifts.  Maybe I start talking in a German accent, and then suddenly in mid-scene I drop my accent.  If my stage mate is paying attention, he/she might make note of the dropped accent, and swipe to a scene where I got dropped into a capsule that erases all accents or something like that!  Now THAT makes for an interesting scene!

Maybe its ok with you that the rules are broken…especially if it makes you look better.  But for how long?  For the quick laugh?  Could this same scenario present itself at work?  At that point, your co-worker is going to mistrust you and not particularly like performing or working with you.  Plus, you made their job harder than it already is.

Set up rules in your organization that are consistent, and that everyone follows…including you.  You live in a fishbowl; people are watching you all the time. Make sure they see what good looks like!

So, your homework for this week is work on higher percentage choices.  When given choices this week, think about what choice gives you the highest payoff while maintaining trust.  That’s where the gold is!  Share your experiences with us on our Coffee with Claire Facebook page, and let us know what choices you had and the payoff!

Episode 21: Coffee With Claire with Jayne Rios

About the Show with Guest Jayne Rios, Co-Founder WBTVN.tv

Episode 21: Where does trust come from?

Where does trust come from?  Hint:  It never comes from the good times and easy projects.

We trust people because they showed up for tough assignments.  Because they told the truth even when it was hard to hear. And they kept a promise even though they could have easily broken it.  You get a chance every day to create trust with those around you.

We can’t create anything in improv without trusting those around us.  When we are creating together in our high-risk, creative and artistic work, we need to feel safe that our fellow performers have our backs.  If that is broken, then it can affect the entire organization.  We trust that we are setting each other up for success by taking the suggestion and putting the scene together knowing the gifts and talents of each person on our team.  We trust that everyone has the same dedication to the success of the overall show and that is created by always being ready to help the scene – even if you are on the other team.

You can liken this to being in an office.  Even if you are in another department, if you see someone struggling, do you offer to help in some way?  Or do you ignore the obvious and continue down the hall because “it’s not your problem?”  The more we take a look at what affects the team globally and act on it, the more trust we create in the group and the overall organization.

What are some other ways to build and keep trust?

  • Keep commitments. Do you always make your deadlines?  Do people know if they give you something you will get it done?
  • Show competence in what you do, and if you don’t know something, admit it and find out the answer. Want to really wow them?  Follow up and tell them the answer that you learned!
  • Set high expectations and act as if you believe people are living up to them. Dale Carnegie called this ”Give them a reputation to live up to.”

Trust is hard earned and can be short lived if we don’t maintain our relationships.  Don’t take things and people for granted.  Show appreciation.  And do what you say you are going to do.

Your homework this week is to evaluate your four main relationships, and see if you need to shore up anything regarding trust issues. Have you let someone down recently?  Do you need to communicate more effectively?  Tell us about what you are working on at the Coffee with Claire Facebook page.  We want to know!

Episode 20: Coffee With Claire with David Rose

About the Show

Episode 20, Coffee With Claire, with Guest David Rose; “Listen, Watch, Concentrate”

In improv, even when we are not on stage under the lights,we are listening off stage, so we can hop in and add to the scene at a moment’s notice…and not take it way off course. This is one of the hardest things we have to teach new improvisers. They get so excited about “writing the scene in advance in their heads” that they forget they are creating this with a group. Instead of listening to what is being said, they hop up on stage and try to cram their idea into the scene, whether it fits or not. This type of “non-listening” creates undue burden on their stage mates, as they now have to justify what the new person brought in even if it didn’t have anything to do with where they were as a group starting to go.

Listening and hearing are not the same thing. In the workplace, as on stage, we have to listen to hear, speak and act.

Our guest today, David Rose, is an accomplished sales trainer, business speaker, university adviser, board member and the CEO of C-Level Global, where he utilizes his proprietary RENAISSANCE methodology which helps save and grow businesses. He coined the phrase CPR saves lives but CRP (consistent – repeatable- processes) saves and grows businesses. And a big part of what he does is listening to hear.

Episode 19: Coffee With Claire Brian Dobbs

About the Show

Episode 19 Finding Fun and Relevance in Your Workplace

There’s a song from the 80’s called “Wham Rap” – yes, Wham actually did do a rap song!  The line that sticks with me in that song is “do you enjoy what you do, if not, just stop, don’t stay there and rot! Yet, so many of us do that every day. We are stuck in a place that does not support our values, our culture, our work ethic, or our creativity. But we go in every day, like zombies, put in our 8 hours, and then leave. Like another 80’s band, Loverboy, said, “Everybody’s working for the weekend.”

Our family situation may be that right now we are where we need to be. We have mouths to feed, mortgages to pay, kids to send to college. So, let’s try to make the best out of the situation. Maybe YOU can be the catalyst of fun for your work place! Now, some of you may be thinking that this sounds crazy, but hear me out. If your boss asks, just have them watch this episode of “Coffee with Claire!” There are huge benefits to being happy in the work place. People are much more creative, more productive, better decision makers, and make better co-workers! They also have fewer absences, are late less often and sick days are reduced because they are having more fun than the people who aren’t having fun!

Another benefit to a happy and productive workplace is that happy people are more loyal- they stick around. And turnover is expensive. It can cost an employer $40,000 or more to replace an employee, and then pay even more to afford their learning curve and ramp-up time. Isn’t it just easier to keep the well-trained people you have and make them happy so they stay?

Of course, the use of humor must be appropriate in nature, as well as how and when it is used. The humor should not be offensive to the ordinary or reasonable person. It is meant to encourage people to see the absurdity in thought processes, perceptions and behaviors. It can also be used to help lighten up situations and reduce the level of conflict or intensity among employees.

What kind of mood do you project to your employees? Remember they will emulate you. Do you walk around with a sour look on your face? If so, you know everyone else will look like they have indigestion too. My guess is that you all are smart leaders and can figure out at least one new thing to try to help lighten up things around where you are. When I worked at TONI & GUY the ladies that worked in my section of the building would take a ”dance break” at 3pm on Friday afternoons, celebrating the fact that they were almost done with the workweek! I’ve worked at other places where certain days were set aside at lunch to have team competitions- chili cook offs, games in the parking lot – things that brought the individual teams together in a friendly way to compete with others in the same building but representing different departments.

At home maybe it’s switching up a routine – drive the kids a different way to school or carve out a craft or baking day once a quarter to bring everyone together for something fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money. Stories told around these activities can help your kids learn a lot about you and your values. Whatever you choose to do, look at this as an opportunity to change your life for the better!