Sunday, May 30, 2010

What is Generative Coachablility?

In the type of work I do (manager, marketer, business developer), I occasionally get to attend continuing education/professional development type events. I feel very fortunate that I get this opportunity for multiple reasons: I learn new things, I meet interesting people, I become better at what I do, and they are expensive if I had to pay for them on my own.

I recently attended one called LCP Training, which stands for Leadership, Creativity, and Power. True, it sounds a little idealistic and frankly, corny. But, it was filled with insights about communication, listening, prioritizing, motivating, goal setting, and generally a lot of things we are okay at, but can always improve.

However, I gleaned onto one insight in particular, the concept of "generative coachability".

To define this, I'll first break it down. Generative means capable of producing or creating. Coachability means the ability to take instruction or advice. The concept is that you will take every opportunity and encounter you have as a way to learn something new.  I want to be like this everyday.

I am in a growth period in my life and I recognize that I am evolving and will become more self aware and socially aware the further I go in this process. So this was timely and appropriate for me right now, which are usually the things we glean onto, right? However, I will incorporate generative coachability into my day to day life, hopefully indefinitely. And I'll do my best to not be annoying about it with all of you.

Here are a couple of ways I have done this in the past few days:

  1. I was told by one of the instructors that I was essentially too verbose. Instead of just being bothered by this, I decided to pull him aside and ask him if he would clarify and give me some coaching. Recognizing that I need to speak out loud to process data and form opinions, his suggestions were 2 things: first, when I need to speak to actually get to what my point is that I should let the person know ahead of time, "Will you just indulge me and let me verbalize my thoughts out loud until I come to a point?".  Second, that I should learn to be okay with silence in a conversation so I can take the time to figure out what I want to say before I say it. He followed it up by telling me that I was eloquent and good with words and those were great traits, that I just needed to hone my delivery in certain situations. Great advice and turned a potentially negative perception I had of myself into something I can really learn from.
  2. In my TRX training I'm obviously doing physical activity. However, I realized that the group dynamic was something I wanted to use to my advantage. So I switched classes to join one of more fit and very motivated individuals. What I am taking from that? It is synergistic- they push me, I push them, they push me harder, etc. I need to continue to surround myself with people that push me and make me better- by inspiring, questioning, or encouraging me. And this needs to happen in every area of my life.
  3. I participated in a chocolate tasting. Awesome in itself, of course. But I learned that just 10 minutes of self indulgence and focused attention will give me more peace of mind for a much, much longer period of time than I thought possible. Is 10 minutes and 70 calories at the end of a work day worth a relaxed evening and easier mental shutdown before bed? Abso-freakin-lutely. Eat more chocolate!
Generative coachability, awesome...

...QueenB Says

Friday, May 28, 2010

5 Thoughts: Billionaire by Travis McCoy

I just loaded this song on my iPod and it's awesome. It is the perfect lead in to summer. It's been on the iPod for only 5 days and already has about 15 plays. So enjoy... and here are my 5 thoughts about Billionaire by Travis McCoy.

  1. I love the attitude of this song.  "I want to be on the cover of Forbes magazine. Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen."  Set your goal.  If it is wealth, then this song is made for you. But if it's generosity, fame, intelligence, living life to the fullest... cool. Just aim big. 
  2. Say it out loud. I love the warning: "The world better prepare when I'm a billionaire". So empowering!
  3. This does not replace "If I Had a Million Dollars" by Barenaked Ladies, but it's definitely number 2 in the money list. 
  4. Warning: there is some profanity. I think excessive profanity is a sign of a poor vocabulary, unintelligence, and low self-esteem, but sometimes a well-placed F-bomb can make a point.
  5. Doesn't this song make you want to lay out by a pool in a gold bikini and Tom Ford sunglasses with a rum punch? Or at least hang out with that girl? Welcome to summer...
...QueenB Says

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why I Will Be Sore for 6 Weeks

I love to work out. I actually enjoy pushing myself and meeting goals I set. Last year I wanted to run 2 half marathons and lift an average of 4 days a week. I wrote it down and I did it. This year I'm going to document my 3 goals for you here as well, so I'm held accountable.

  1.  I will do a 14er.
  2.  I will run a half marathon.
  3.  I will do a 1 armed push up.

For those of you not familiar, my first goal of hiking a 14er is something every Coloradoan should do. It's a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. And hiking one is strenuous for multiple reasons: the altitude gain, the sheer elevation, lack of oxygen at the top, the amount of time it takes (usually a full day), and that due to weather you can only do them a few months out of the year. I've lived here 8 years and haven't done one. Yet. My lovely friend Suzan and I are planning to do one in July. Not sure which one, we're taking suggestions.

The second goal is no biggie. I've run about 7 half marathons. Just going to do another one. Probably the Boulder Half Marathon (formerly the Boulder Backroads) in September.  The 10 weeks it takes to train for one keeps my cardio in check.

As for my 3rd goal... well, I have 2 reasons for having this one on here. First, if I can do a 1 armed push up, then I've got some pretty good strength. And because I will do strength exercises for my whole body, if my upper body can do that, then I'm probably pretty strong and toned all over. Second, how freaking cool would it be for a chick to drop down and do a 1 armed push up?!?!

I'm pretty clear how to train for the first 2. It's the push up that I need help on. So, I recently joined a 6 week boot-camp style training program. It is using the TRX training system. You can just google "TRX" and get a lot of information, but here's a picture that shows you basically what it looks like.

You are using suspension straps to do various exercises using your own body weight. Robby is the kick-ass trainer that is leading these classes, and I've found one that has very competitive and fit athletes in it who push me even harder. It's not uncommon to hear, "How many reps did you do?" and compare our answers.

So in addition to 6 days a week of cardio, I am going 4 times a week to a 30 minute TRX class. I've been to 7 classes in the past week and a half... I have been sore the whole time. And as he begins to challenge me and change things up I will continue to be sore, probably for the entire 6 weeks. I mentioned my goal to him. And the good reason to look at joining a group or getting a trainer? He keeps reminding me of it in the class and that will push me even harder.

But... I think I'll be able to do a 1 armed push up at the end. And if I can, I promise I'll post a video of it...

...QueenB Says

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Point System... Clarifications

I've received verbal commentary on several of my posts and it's always nice to get. But none have caused the reaction of The Point System. Literally people will walk by me in the office and say "I'm a 9 today!".  Some people feel the need to come tell me why they'll only ever be a 7 or that they don't think they could ever be comfortable with a 10. I've received emails from some of you telling me your score or asking me how many points I would give a certain piece of clothing. People comment that they are blown away by how much thought I put into it. And the funniest was in hip hop rehearsal when we were trying on outfits. I came out in a hot pink sequin top, black sequin shorts, fishnets, boots, a flowy scarf around my neck, and lace gloves. One of the gals said "That's got to be a 35!"

I got a great clarification question that reminds me of a few more rules and things to think about. So here goes...

How many points do I give a dress?

Dresses are always a struggle for me. I've changed my rules on them a few times. So I'll just give you a few examples and how I've counted them and my thought process.

  • Hot pink shirt dress: I've referenced this one before, it's the super hero dress. Because it is a solid I would say 2 points is a good start, and I have a black dress that is similar and I might only give it 2 points. But since this one is blinding fuscia, I usually add a point. So 3. I wear the fabric belt that matches it, so I don't give it a point. But, contrasting belts get 1 point. So, if I added a black studded belt or a grey snakeskin belt, then I'd add another point, for a total of 4. (I think I just came up with a new spin on the super hero costume)!
  • What kind of dress would I give a 2 then? This one. It's a solid, but in pale pink, a color that is more muted. And this isn't a point system rule, but in taking these pictures of the example dresses on the hanger I have to make another rule. ALWAYS try clothes on. This dress looks heinous hanging there, yet when I wear it it makes me feel like Jackie O. That's what it looks like on. I swear!
  • Black fitted v-neck shift dress with lace panel: This dress would get 3 as well. 2 for the dress and 1 for the lace panel. However, I'm making another new rule here, if I wear this dress with a push up bra then cleavage gets another point. Yes, I give cleavage a point. So this would likely be a 4 on a night out on the town.
  • This dress is more formal. It is a solid, so start with 2. But it's satin. So shiny fabrics, even when solid, get an extra point.  This one would also show considerable cleavage, so I'm now up to 4. I threw this one in because I look hot in it.  

Hope this helps clarify some of your burning questions around the point system. I would like to do a post on my readers questions and outfits-with-points soon. So, send me your questions and pictures if you want a cameo on...

...QueenB Says

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I Am Okay Calling Myself a Queen... Part 3

Reason Number 1

Reason Number 2

Reason Number 3: Queens create their own image and destiny.

If I know what I want to be, then I can do things to learn how, I can do things to have people see me that way, and I can do things to live it. Here’s what I want to be:

I want to be intelligent. I am… but I try to surround myself with people that challenge me and people that make me think. I read as much as I can, I enjoy the occasional class, I converse often, and I will always take time to do these things,, totally.

I want to be classy. Wearing pearls will help. But this includes not only how I present myself physically, it's also in how I act. And when I’m not classy, I want it to be a conscious decision for a reason. Or I will apologize.

I want to be courageous. Being more spontaneous is something I’m working on, and that is part of it. But I also feel to do this I have to be willing to try new things and stand up for myself and other people when I need to. I will not skydive, sorry.

I want to be honest and direct. I will tell you if you have something stuck in your teeth and I will tell you the truth if you ask my opinion. I also am trying to say what I mean more clearly and I have to tell you, it is so much easier and people appreciate it! So I’m going to keep doing that. And if I don’t know the answer, I’m going to be up front about that too.

I want to be full of life. If I can find humor in the world, find passion in my activities and surroundings, have many friends, and appreciate and honor the things around me then I feel I’ve accomplished this. I will dance, but I won't sing. I promise.

I want to be beautiful. This may be shallow, but I am allowed to have many facets and vanity is just going to be one of those, at least right now. I will work out, I will eat well, I will do my nails, get pedicures, lay out, wear make up, wax, laser, wear cute clothes and flirt. Deal with it.

I want to live to be 100. This is about being healthy and treating my body right. It’s also about moderating risk and planning ahead. I guess need to get that rich second husband thing lined up in the next 50 years.

I want to be successful. Typically the goals set for myself involve jobs, money, and travel- still are. Excelling professionally is important to me. Financial stability is important to be. Being well-traveled is important to me. I’m working on all 3 of these.

I want to be well balanced. Work-life. Running-yoga. Healthy-indulgent. Contemplative-light hearted. Red satin dress-jeans. High heels-flip flops.

So there. That is what I hope to be and the image I want to create. This is the royal legacy QueenB hopes to leave behind. And I am asking for your help. If you see other things I need to work on, tell me. If you see me not living up to any of these, tell me. I give you permission. Really.  I'm not a scary drag queen (I'll tell that story in a later blog!)

This was the 3rd piece in the series and I really want your feedback here. Do I make my case about why calling myself a Queen is appropriate? Did I convince you that you are a Queen or Empress or King too? Will you take care of yourself more? Who do you need around you? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

...QueenB Says

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why I Am Okay Calling Myself a Queen... Part 2

Thanks everyone for following along. Part 1 of the series focused on how I treat myself like a queen. I hope you enjoy Part 2!

Reason Number 2: Queens surround themselves with the right people.

I have SME’s* that I regularly check in with (*Subject Matter Experts).  I couldn't begin to name them all, but here's a short list of important parts of my life where I need occasional advice and who I go to:
  • When I need fashion advice there are only a few people that I can go to. Ashley and Katie, thank you for being my go to SME’s in this area. Both of you are classic and practical in your approach to this subject, and know how to add just the right amount of flair to keep it fun.
  • I have created a network of people that do or have done what I do professionally. To bounce an idea off of someone or to hear how someone else has addressed a certain problem is invaluable. I work with these people now, I’ve worked with these people in the past, and some of you I may get to work with in the future. Mike C., you have been especially helpful and influential along the way, couldn’t be where I am without you!
  • I have people that I go to when I need to cry, when I need to vent, when I want to laugh, when I want to enjoy a fabulous meal, when I need reassurance, when I need advice. I could go on, but then I might sound REALLY needy.
I have people around me that keep me in check.
  • The huz will often tell me what I need to hear. He recently, when I was being wishy washy on an issue, called me out. “It’s amazing how your attitude about this changes from day to day”. Yeah, he was right. I’m still making up my mind on this issue, and that’s the process I’m going through right now. But it was nice to have someone push me in the right direction.
  • My mom keeps me in check too. I was angry about something and was doing my free-flow-thinking-out-loud-about-what-I-would-say-to-this-person. She says, “That is not how a lady would act.” Sometimes being a lady is hard, but you never regret it. Fine! I’ll be a freaking lady!
I have people around me that encourage me.  I can think of several instances recently where someone’s encouragement has made all the difference for me. Here are a few:
  • When I was contemplating writing a blog, I was nervous about it. I’m not a writer and I don’t think of myself as very creative. But 3 people really helped me get going by encouragement, positive feedback, and by being awesome themselves. Emma-nation, Theschumbag, SuzanBond… XOXO.
  • I've worked really hard this season at improving my dancing. I’m trying to listen to feedback more, be more open to types of movement that make me uncomfortable (I still don’t like floor work, for the record), and practice on my own daily. Well, someone I really respect noticed. Thank you Troy for pulling me aside and giving me solid feedback, but mostly for saying “Look who’s turned into a hip-hopper!"
  • I manage a great team. I’ve hired people that know what to do and do it. I also have individual contributor responsibilities, so this is important. We work really hard and recently were even awarded a 5-star award for our channel program in the industry… that’s big, okay. In addition to a great team, I have a boss that trusts me to do my job, but still gets involved when I need her to. It’s a great combination. A few months ago she made a comment to me in passing that may not have been something she remembers, but I do, and it gave me a boost of confidence I really needed at the time. She said, “I don’t feel like I have to worry about your team, you run yourselves”. Huge!
  • I also couldn’t let this go by without mentioning my huz, my mom, my dad, my sister, my b-i-l, Ashley, Amie, Maggie, Katie, Bob, my dance troupe, and I’m forgetting about a dozen other people. You make my world better and give me confidence and I appreciate each and every one of you!
Find your people and make sure they are fabulous, and take the time to thank them for it. You are further along in your path to being the best Queen you can be.

Join me on Friday for Part 3 in the series, where I ask for your support...

...QueenB Says

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I Am Okay Calling Myself a Queen... Part 1

Calling myself QueenB is bold. Borderline obnoxious. I’ll definitely concede that point. Though no one has made that point to my face, I’m sure it’s going through some of your minds… mostly because it would go through my mind for many people.

I’ve called myself a princess, a diva, even a bitch. But this is the first time I’ve ever referred to myself as a queen. The nickname came about when I bought my new car. Mercedes has a great program where they have someone walk you through every feature on your vehicle and set up all your options with you before you leave the lot. They have the most adorable gal that does this for about an hour. It’s awesome. One of the features they help you set up is your hands free cell phone. During this process she asked me what I wanted to name my phone. Name my phone? I had never done that before. With the look of confusion and omg-what-do-I-name-my-phone running across my face she graciously stepped in and said, “Something like Queen Bee”. It felt perfect sitting in my brand new Sooner red Mercedes, so that is what we named my phone. I modified Queen Bee to QueenB and now every time I get in my car it says “Connected to QueenB”. So, the name has been top of mind every day. But in addition to that, I have other reasons why I am comfortable with the title. And I’ll go through those one by one in a 3 part series.

Reason Number 1: I am the queen in my own world.

I do what I can to make sure I am well taken care of- I get physical maintenance done on a regular basis, I work out, I plan my meals and eat well, I take time to be by myself, I take time to be with my friends, I read, I talk to my mom almost every day, I play with my dogs, I take time to be with my husband, I keep my house neat and clean, I get enough sleep. It takes time and work, but it keeps me happy and healthy and feeling good.

I treat myself- when I want dessert, I eat it, I only use soap and lotion that smells good, I order the creamy pasta when I want to, and I shop on a regular basis. I try not to go overboard, but I work hard and deserve it. Why would I let anyone tell me I didn’t?

I hope you are the queen in your own world. And if you aren’t, then why not? Try putting your needs and wants first. Not at the expense of your other responsibilities, but to complement them. I bet you’ll find you are happier and have more energy to do the things that the people around you need you for. Today, I deem you all Queens & Kings (or whatever title you wish to own) in your own worlds.

Check back Wednesday for Part 2 in the series...

...QueenB Says

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Love Hip-Hop? Continued...

Thanks everyone for the blog love yesterday!

We had an amazing show and Storm (my troupe) killed it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why I Love Hip-Hop?

A few weeks ago I was posed a question for Ask QueenB. I’m answering it today in honor of tonight’s hip hop performance, Streets of the World. Also, I felt it was a question that I wanted to think more about and truly articulate what it means to me in a nontrivial way.

“What is your take on the world of hip-hop? How has it changed your view on yourself and society?” –Troy

First, on the surface I have changed in a few ways. I am definitely willing to be more edgy in my clothing choices. When I first started hip hop 7 years ago I tended to wear my regular workout clothes to classes. Now, I typically wear baggy (really baggy) sweatpants and a tank that I’ve personally altered with scissors in some way. A recent addition to the ensemble has been a hat of some kind. When we costume up for a show, I have no qualms about fishnets and mini-skirts, feathers, lace gloves, fangs, dark make-up. In fact, it is one of my favorite parts of the experience. None of this is that surprising, but what is is that this edginess has found its way into my personal and professional wardrobes as well. Not fishnets or bustiers, but definitely more pencil skirts, feminine dresses, wilder prints as well as more fitted clothes, shorter lengths, and higher heels. Why do I think this is due to hip hop? I feel more confident in how I look and how my body makes me feel.

Second, I am more willing to let different facets of my life bleed over into each other. Where before I was self conscious and timid about it, now I love to come home and show the huz what I’m working on in dance, even when it’s a little raw. Because I was worried it might seem less that professional for a technology marketing director to do hip hop, I kept the performances fairly private from my coworkers. But for the last 2 shows I have hung the event posters on my office door advertising it. Why do I think this is due to hip hop? I see an acceptance of many walks of life from my hip hop friends. They welcome new people and welcome new things about the veterans, they are genuinely interested in people. They enjoy learning new things and not only find joy in movement that may feel or look awkward and unfamiliar, but encourage it in themselves and others. It is a refreshing way of seeing people and seeing themselves that I am still striving to embrace.

Last, I don’t want to minimize the end of the question- how it has changed my view on society. My hip hop instructors and troupe are truly a melting pot. I’ve developed friendships and strong bonds with many of them. It is the first time in my life that if questioned I can honestly say that my group of friends represents a slice of the general population. And yes, I am talking about race. I grew up in a place where there was no opportunity to create that type of network. I had it somewhat in college, but not to this extent. I pride myself on having the highest caliber people close to me. And I do. Right now. So, I’m not sure hip hop has necessarily changed my view on society, but it certainly solidifies my positive view of humanity. And that is a wonderful way to go through life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ask QueenB

Hope you enjoy your second edition of Ask QueenB.

What is your favorite recipe?

Whatever the huz is making . I’m fortunate that I married someone who enjoys cooking. The preparation is relaxing for him. But to keep things even I cook about once a week. I’m not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe, and there are a few that make the regular rotation. Peanut pasta, kung pao chicken, poblano and goat cheese stuffed chicken, mojito chicken, and Cajun pasta are my top 5. I used a new decision maker app on my iPhone to choose which recipe I’d give, so here goes. Unfortunately, this one is from memory so I’ll do my best with amounts. You’re probably just going to have to decide how spicy and saucy you want it and go from there.

Cajun Pasta

Thin spaghetti

Olive oil

Scallions – 1 bunch

Emerils Essence – 1 tablespoon

Red pepper and chili powder – I like a lot, but I like it spicy

Evaporated milk – 1 can

Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoons

Tabasco – 1 teaspoon

Grated parmesan – ¼ cup and some for topping

In a skillet sauté the scallions in olive oil with the essence and red pepper and chili powder for about 3 minutes. Add the evaporated milk and simmer for about 5 minutes (if you want more sauce like we do then add a bit of milk). Add the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco and ¼ cup parm. This will thicken the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

As you are making the sauce, boil the thin spaghetti so they finish at the same time. Combine the sauce a pasta and serve with parmesan for topping.

Tonight happens to be my one night of the week to cook, and we're having this. I am looking forward to it!

What is your favorite hike in Boulder?

Hands down it’s Royal Arch. I’ve probably done Sanitas more times than any other, it’s about an hour round trip and that is convenient. But Royal Arch has all the elements of a perfect hike. It’s beautiful the entire hike, it’s difficult, the view at the top is a perfect picture of Boulder and Denver, and can complete your cardio and strength training all in one workout. It’s a great 75-90 minute hike (more like 2 hours for lower altitude visitors). So a start at 10am means you can head down to Pearl Street for lunch right after. And trust me, you have earned that beer.

My company says we can wear jeans on Friday. Is it okay to wear a t-shirt and sneakers?

I would say this depends on either your role in the company or the role you want to have in the company. So for most people, no.

However, I wear jeans on Friday, but I always dress it up. For the ladies, it’s best to start with the rule of 3- have 3 main pieces of clothing. For example jeans + shirt + jacket or jeans + sweater + pashmina or jeans + shirt + vest. You can even make a big belt or oversized necklace the third piece. For the guys, you can stick with 2. You want to make sure the jeans are darker wash and your shirt is not something you could wear to the gym. As for sneakers, it truly dresses down an outfit. If they are a trendy Converse or Van type shoe then maybe. But it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

I wondered when I would get to use this, and here goes: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Look around you and whatever the senior executives are wearing on casual Friday is what you should wear too...

...QueenB Says

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Cheerleader Attitude

I am dedicating this post to all cheerleaders and those that hated us.

I was recently speaking with a good friend of mine about confidence. And in trying to explain how I approached it, I realized it was something I learned in my years as a cheerleader.

I know I exude confidence. As much as I’d like to write this post about how I have that much. Well… I don’t. I second guess myself all the time. In my day to day interactions with people I’ll go home and wish I’d said something differently or better. I certainly am lacking in 100% confidence in my appearance or I wouldn’t have lost 14 pounds. And in my “life plan”, well, if I followed what I would have written for myself 10 years ago I’m not sure I’d be happy now, so how can I know if the plan I write for myself now will make me happy in 10 or 20 years. But, all that said- I am happy, I enjoy my life, I love my family and friends, I look good, my job is fantastic, and that is what I focus on.

So how does the “cheerleader attitude” come into play? A cheerleader’s job is to pay attention to the game, be positive no matter what is going on, to have a planned response for whatever just happened, to be willing to jump and yell in enthusiasm, and to encourage others to be positive… and do all of this while standing in front of a lot of people in a very short skirt. Yes, people are watching you. Yes, people are judging you. Yes, people make fun of you. But your focus has to be about what you are watching and doing. And about everyone else watching you and judging you, you just have to say “So what?”. That is how you are even able to stand out there, is to make sure you are doing your job and develop an indifference to the haters.

That’s what I do. I try to focus on the things I should- my family, my job, my passions, my friends. I try to keep the good things around and address the negative things. I plan for what I want. I am becoming more and more willing to show strong emotion, both laughter and tears. And I try to encourage the people around me. And I know people are watching- those that I care about are cheering ME on and those that are judging me.. so what? I’m still TRYING. And I’m doing pretty damn good. It’s all about the attitude...

...QueenB Says

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Art of Small Talk

Everyone has to make small talk at one time or another. If you tell me that you don't have to, then I have a newsflash for you. You are that person that everyone calls weird/anti-social/psychopathic. Okay?

I am the first to admit, small talk can be painfully boring. Where I have lived (Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado), the number one topic of small talk is weather. You can almost guarantee that it will come up. It's b.o.r.i.n.g. But... I've learned to talk about it and do it well. Why? Because that is what people feel comfortable talking about, that is what everyone has in common, and that is what people find interesting. Making people comfortable, being relatable, and being enjoyable is kind of the point of social interaction.

You find many situations where small talk is necessary. From the informal chit chat with the cashier to the lively banter at a business function. You will use it with people you don't know at all and with people you know intimately.

Several years ago, one of my favorite people in the world gave me the best advice on how to make small talk. Matt, if you have met him, is the master at this. He can talk to anyone. And everyone he talks to walks away happy and as if they have just made a lifelong friend. He knows how to achieve all of the objectives of social interaction - making people comfortable, being relatable, and being enjoyable - every time. 

When the huz and I moved to Colorado, we lived with Matt for a few months while we looked for a place. At this time we all 3 worked at the same company. We were headed out to a happy hour with other co-workers, when he shared his tip. Now, while the 3 of us were very close, the people we were meeting were not necessarily in our immediate circle,  so our main topics of conversation (usually the people not in our circle) were off limits. (Note: partly kidding on that). On the drive, Matt said, "Okay, everyone think of 3 things we can talk about".

A huge lightbulb went off! This was all about preparation! I can do THAT!

So, we all came up with ideas. They were things like: a recent vacation, a merger in the industry, a new restaurant in town, our recent move, a TV show that we liked, and... the weather.

It was brilliant! There was never a lull in the conversation. They were topics that people had opinions on. And we didn't need to use all of them. I've found that EVERY TIME I've used this technique. Once people are comfortable, relating with each other, and interested- the conversation moves itself.

I wouldn't be QueenB if I didn't have my own addition to the art of small talk. So, I also suggest that you take a minute on the way to an event and do the following: figure out who will be there and make sure you know their names, if they have spouses coming try to figure out their names as well, and last, try to remember something recent they might want to talk about. Some examples are- they got a new dog, they went on a trip, they got a new job, their kid was in a play.

Using this technique will make your life easier and make people like you. Unless you are just naturally weird/anti-social/psychopathic...

...QueenB Says

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trivial Observations in My Professional World... Continued

Yesterday I posted some observations on attire in my recent travels for work. Today I am going to cover a few observations on behavior.

  1. When you ask a question, make sure it is relevant, intelligent, and well thought out. When you pose a question as a way to give pre-question commentary to show how smart you are, you look like a buffoon. It's even worse if you have a hairy neck.
  2. Quit walking around like you are in a hurry. You may think it looks like you are focused or busy or important, but you really look scattered, unorganized, and panicked. None of which are good for your professional image.
  3. Ladies- don't dress like you are going to a nightclub. At each of the 2 events I went to, there was one lady... well, um, female, because neither would be categorized as ladies...who showed cleavage and wore inappropriate stiletto shoes (one wore knee-high boots over pants and one wore strappy sandals). If you are that lady I have some news for you. Women don't like you and that is a huge hurdle to overcome. Men don't respect you and that is a huge hurdle to overcome. You also look like you are desperate for attention, have low self esteem, and don't understand boundaries. That crashing noise is the sound of your earning potential and promotability.
  4. "At the end of the day" is overused. Quit saying it. Find another way to summarize your points. Or just try stating the summary without a "I am summarizing for you what I couldn't get clear in my other communications to you" statement.
Any other observations you have had? I would love to hear them!

Check back this weekend for my next post on the best advice I ever got on how to effortlessly make small talk...

...QueenB Says

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trivial Observations in My Professional World

I've been travelling the past two weeks to conferences. In these travels, I have observed some behavior and attire that I want to address.

Let's start with attire.
  1. Ladies- if you are wearing a jacket it looks exponentially better if you button it. In the multiple presentations and sessions I sat in on, this was unanimous. For the record, I don't always button. But I will now.
  2. Men- you have got to deal with your neck hair. It's gross if you have a pet on the back of your neck. It also looks lazy, unkempt, and messy. I don't know the best way to take care of it, short of getting a hair cut weekly, so I'll take suggestions. But I do know that you need to deal with it. Badly.
  3. Ladies- a wrap dress seems to look good on everyone. No matter your height or size. If you have "girls" that make it seem like a look you can't carry, then put a cami or tank underneath. It truly is a flattering silhouette.
  4. Men- the striped shirt and striped tie bothers me. I think you need to mix another pattern in a similar color scheme. Or stick to a solid for either the shirt or tie.
  5. Ladies- knit shirts don't work if you have extra padding you are trying to hide. It just accentuates it. You have to stick with something more structured or layer a jacket or cardigan on top.
  6. Ladies- short bangs don't really work on most people. "Trends" are tough to pull off if you don't have the rest of the look too. And the short bang just makes it look like you did it yourself. I have one friend who can pull off the short bang. Emma-nation. She's the only exception in my book. Okay?
  7. Check your nose. Often.
Last, I sat in on 2 presentations with brilliant, inspirational, beautiful women. They are my idols. Both are doing amazing and cutting edge work in my field and are well respected. Also, they both wore black pants, black shoes, and a fitted suit jacket in another color (white for Julie Parish and red for Sandy Carter). I will be adopting that look into my repertoire. It is classy, elegant, and demands respect. To top it off, they are both blondes. See, we will take over the world!

Check back tomorrow for my post on behavior...

...QueenB Says

Saturday, May 1, 2010

WHY to Dress Well

I posted last week on one way of HOW to dress well, but I wanted to address my thoughts on WHY you should dress well. I could go on and on about this, so I narrowed it down to 3 reasons that I think are most important.

  • People think better of you.
    • We are judgmental. That is just the way it is and fighting it, however noble, is not going to get you further in life. Getting further in life will get you further in life. And you do that by working harder than others, going faster than others, or just being better than others…AND why wouldn’t you also do what you can to START AHEAD OF OTHERS. When you look put together, people automatically think you are. And that means you don’t have as much to prove.

  • You get better service.
    • I would NEVER go shopping at a boutique or upscale department store unless I was dressed well. Why? Because they treat you how you dictate when you look like you should be there. If you need help, they help you. If you just want to browse, they let you. If you show interest in an item, they give you other options. This holds true in many other situations. Restaurants. Spas. Sporting events. Bars. Doctors offices. You name it.

  • It makes you feel better.
    • Clothes effect your mood, or they should. I have a fabulous hot pink shirt dress. Think Mrs. Cleaver meets Marilyn Monroe. When I put that on with my nude, peep-toe heels I am like a super hero. I swear. It makes me feel powerful and fun and pretty and frankly, like I look better than everyone else. It’s magical! Not every day can be a super hero day, but there IS something to the idea of dressing the part. If I have an important meeting, I dress in a suit or something more than business casual. It gives me a feeling of strength that I wouldn’t have in a wrap dress. On the other hand, I have the best red sweat pants that I got at Streetside. I wear those with a black fitted tank and my Ugg house shoes and I am instantly ready for a rainy, cozy, movie day. I’m not saying treat your clothing like costume wear, but let it help you set the tone for where you are, what you are doing, and most importantly… WHAT YOU WANT.