Details Matter! Don't put your hands in your pockets!

What you do sends a message to your audience – even before you open your mouth.

I’ve trained thousands of people on how to take more responsibility for their body language.  (Here's my previous post on Body Language.) Among one of the more frequent questions I get is,

"When presenting, what do I do with my hands when I'm not gesturing?"

That question came up again last week as I worked with a dynamic group of senior leaders from a large multi-national company.

My answer, of course, depends on the situation and your comfort levels. For instance:

1. Let one arm rest loosely by your side while you gesture broadly with the other.

2. Allow both arms to rest by your sides if you're going to lean in with your upper body to "confide" something to your audience.

3. My favorite suggestion is to "make a diamond or triangle" by lightly interlacing or touching your fingers of both hands.  As performed by yours truly here:

What I don't ever suggest however, especially for men, is to put your hands in your trousers' pockets.

Gents: Do not put your hands in your pockets!

This invariably sends a negative message.  You may be simply uncomfortable or nervous. But to your audience you probably look at best - too casual or maybe fidgety, at worst - cocky, or disrespectful.

The client who asked me about this  - really took it to heart.   He took the extra effort to send this illustrative email to his colleagues:

As he indicated, his email included that photo of me I posted up above.  And here's the contrasting "Hands in Pockets" look he referred to from when Irish Rugby player Ronan O'Gara met Queen Elizabeth back in 2009.

I didn't live in Ireland when this took place so I missed the outcry his body language sparked. But a quick Google search found the media labeling him everything from a "lout," to "disrespectful," to a "disgrace."

Turns out, according to subsequent interviews, O'Gara apparently was just very relaxed and went on to later smile and shake her hand politely. But that didn't prevent the maelstrom his pockets hands ignited.

So! To avoid such pitfalls when you are next speaking before an audience, or perhaps lining up to meet with the Queen, please, please, remember that seemingly small details can have large consequence.

Thanks to my client for taking time to write such kind words and thanks to you for taking time to read!

Til next time, let me know what you do with your hands when presenting!

 

Gina


Sibling. What a clunky word.

Sunday was National Sibling Day.

What it is about the word “sibling”?? I don’t like it.  It doesn’t strike me as familial and warm.  It sounds more detached and stilted.

Like some sort of a mutant fish living at the bottom of the ocean’s largely uncharted Mariana Trench:

Fisherman off the coast of Guam today, discovered the body of a ghastly looking sea creature tangled in their nets. Scientists say it’s the rarely seen deep sea cucumber known as the “SIBLING.”

Or maybe a twig off of the branch of physics known as quantum theory:

 Stephen Hawking today will be lecturing on the inexplicable quantity of SIBLING photoelectron effects.”

Whatever you call them. They’re those people you teased, fought and played with as you grew up.  You may share good and/or bad childhood memories with them. Campfire songs. Parents hugging. Perhaps parents fighting. Christmas. Hanukkah. Ramadan. Whatever.

You may have grown up and grown apart. Physically and/or emotionally. Hopefully you have managed to maintain at least the latter connection.

Life is busy and hectic and sometimes it takes an official day on a calendar to remind me to stop and say thank you to a few of the most influential people in my life. Then and Now.  My brother, Brad and my sister, Andrea. (yep, that's them above and below - with mom and dad and me - missing my two front teeth.)

So, as much as I don’t like that clunky word, “sibling,” I am ever so grateful that I can call them a word I feel that does sound appropriately gracious and genial.

While we’re on the topic, I am extremely grateful for the other incredible people in my life who may not be biologically my siblings and who may not be able to recite all the words to John Denver's song, "Grandma's Feather Bed" like Andrea and Brad can - but who, through their laughter, listening, encouragement (and sometimes wine), can certainly be classified with that word that goes much deeper than the ocean and cannot be dissected by even the top quantum scientist.

So, to all of you out there as I have grown up and away from Indiana, to Florida, Washington, Atlanta, Cairo, Bucharest, Paris, Arezzo and now here in Cork, Ireland: A hearty and heart-felt thank you to each of you I am proud to call much more than the word “sibling” – but as “friends.”

In gratitude, 

Gina


Crisis Communications: Lessons from Lanzerote

I train and consult around a range of business communications topics including how to prepare, avoid and handle Crisis. I was recently in Singapore discussing this very issue with some managers from a large multi-national.  But I was personally unprepared during my visit this week to the tiny island of Lanzerote.

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My eight-year-old daughter and I joined another mother and her three children on what was supposed to be a care-free week of mid-term holiday fun on one of Spain’s sunny Canary Islands.

Yet, two far-from-care-free events reminded me that careful and consistent preparation is the number one way to avoid Crises – business and personal.

I’ll share our story along with these pointers as a refresher for us all.

"We’re stranded!"

Our first mishap was the very afternoon we landed last Saturday.

The travel agent had booked us a private shuttle which was supposed to deliver us to the doorstep of our villa. Instead, after the driver deposited us, our kids and our luggage– and departed - we noticed a stranger basking at what we thought was our pool.

While he was kind, he also insisted this was his rental villa. A group of local cleaners who were onsite tidying agreed. His paperwork all checked out.

They took one look at the paperwork my friend showed them and shook their heads. Our destination’s typed address proved a puzzle.

Yes, this villa is number 20.  Yes, “Playa Blanca” is the name of the town we were in.  But! The street name on the sheet was from a town that was apparently a 40-minute drive north. Yikes! For good measure, they observed that the zip code listed didn’t even exist in Lanzerote. Terrific.

Neither of the two phone numbers typed on the information sheet connected to a live person.  One wasn’t working at all and the other said to call back during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

Fortunately for us, the cleaners stayed to help us try and put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Since they spoke fluent Spanish, they managed to contact the shuttle service which, in turn, managed to track down a someone from the property management company who revealed that our villa was actually number 26. Six doors down.  No explanation was provided for the error.

All this, after more than an hour being stranded with four understandably confused and cranky kids.

What if we had arrived later and no one had been there to help?!?

1. Share the plan/Make sure you know the plan - It’s important for businesses and leaders to share and get buy-in around a vision.  Likewise, it might have been a good idea for the travel agent to send a copy of our villa address and other information to me, not just to my friend.  In the same vein, I should have requested a copy, but I didn’t.  I don’t know that I would have noticed the errors with the address. But at least being aware of the plan is a responsibility when you’re part of a team.

2. Verify information - Did any of us think to test the phone numbers on the paperwork before we needed them?  Routine testing beforehand might alert that something is amiss.

"There’s been a break-in!"

Our second mishap unfolded as we returned after dinner in town to our number 26 villa Tuesday night.

Upon entering and turning on the light, we saw once-tidy clothing and papers scattered about the first two rooms.  There’s been a break-in! But strangely, we then noticed that my laptop and a child’s tablet had not been removed.  Could we have interrupted the intruder?  Was he still inside?!?

My friend immediately called the police. We gathered the shaking children. And left.

About twenty-minutes later, four police officers arrived and we went back in with them.  No more intruder – but a broken window latch downstairs.  He opened it from the outside – even though we thought we had it locked from the inside.

The police guessed the intruder was only after passports or cash.  We had those with us while we were at dinner.  So the would-be robber took nothing, but gave us all a big fright.

We took the children’s mattresses from the downstairs bedrooms and huddled together upstairs for the remainder of the night.

The next day, our Irish travel agent contacted the property manager who sent a handy-man to fix the window.  Nothing more.  No words of compassion or caring.

3. Check your systems. Along with routine testing of numbers in our case, or processes in business, it’s critical to check and re-check to see what can be improved upon.  We could even have checked the windows and doors ourselves – from the inside and out – before we left.  This, clearly, should be the responsibility of the property manager. But, I don’t think I’ll passively depend on that again. Knowing that we were staying in an unfamiliar place, we could have insisted with our travel agent that all the locks on the windows and doors had been recently serviced.

 4. Be Compassionate. This one is aimed at the property manager. My friend and I are can-do mommies and we did get to the beach and see the sights. But this was definitely not the mid-term holiday that we – or our kids – had imagined.

 The fact that the property manager didn’t even offer to reduce the fee for our stay – or move us to another villa – or even send us a box of chocolates or a pizza for the kids as a sign of caring, is NOT the way to keep customers and gain business.

We are all safely aboard the plane back home as I type this with, of course, the beauty of hindsight.  But it’s hindsight that I vow to turn to foresight.  I pledge to hold myself to the high standard that I encourage my business partners to undertake.

Just as soon as I’m finished here reminding myself of what I could do better next time to avoid a crisis, I will be writing to our travel agent to avoid the property supplier who did NOT prevent crises for their customers  - and as a result - themselves.

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Here’s wishing crisis-free travels for us all.

Very kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 


Gina’s recipe for Pear Scones

I know I regularly write about how to improve business communications, but since I firmly believe we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life – I am taking this moment to share something from my life – that I find pretty tasty!

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Since moving to Ireland, I have discovered scones are an integral part of life.  If it’s morning time and you walk into a café, a coffee shop or a diner, there will be scones.  One of the companies I am consulting with at the moment has a monthly communications meeting from all the department heads.  Before the employees walk into the conference room, they pause to take a scone from the heap of them on the long table out front.  The typical trifecta of flavors are “Brown” with wholewheat flour, “Fruit” - which usually translates as raisins or currants, or “Plain,” uhm, which is plain.

Scones are served with fresh whipped cream, Irish butter or jam to be slathered on.  And they’re not just for breakfast, either.  The first time I met someone for afternoon tea, the waitress asked me, “Would you like a scone with your tea?”

I like the scones here.  They’re not the dried out, flattened biscuits that are passed as scones in other parts of the world.  They’re dense yet still moist.

Interestingly, I have never had a pear scone here in Ireland – that I didn’t make myself.  I’ve been baking mine for about four years from some recipe I found online when we lived in Italy long before I ever imagined I would be moving to Ireland. I don’t remember the official source, since I hand-copied the recipe and the slip of paper now lives in my recipe box.  So, I don’t claim to have created this recipe, but I am happy to share it with you as “mine.”

Without further ado, here is my recipe for Pear Scones! Slainte!

Gina's Pear Sconesscones

2 Cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ Cup white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ Cup diced fresh pear

5 tablespoons cold butter

1 Cup cream (or half regular milk and half vanilla yogurt, which I have substituted when out of cream – and it worked great!)

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until tiny crumbs.  Stir in diced pear and the liquid. This dough is pretty sticky – but that’s fine. Turn out onto floured service and lightly knead.  I put it then into an 8 inch cake pan and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle top with white sugar –(I prefer caster sugar, which is really fine white sugar you can get here in Ireland/UK easily -  if you have it.)

Bake at 220C/400 F for 12/15 minutes

I cut mine in wedges although all the scones here are round.  I suppose you could easily cut the dough with an overturned and lightly floured glass if you’d prefer the round shape.

Et voila! I hope you like them.

Cheers, and happy life!

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.  


Practice makes Perfect. Or Does it?!

For the first time in the twenty years that I have been leading communications training programs, I got push-back that:

 Practice Makes Perfect.”

I was in Singapore just over a week ago working with a group of twenty managers from all over the region (photo above is me obviously after the training). I was recording each participant as he or she delivered a message. An executive questioned my practice recommendation saying:

 I don’t know. I think I lose the true emotion of what I am trying to say. I think the spontaneity is gone.”

I welcome all challenges. Good dialogue helps us learn more about each other’s perspectives. It also compels me to reflect and reconsider my approaches and opinions. So, we put it to the test. I doubled back to the participant who had just completed his first round video recording and had him give it a second go on-camera.

He edited his content from his previous attempt which made his wording tighter, more concise.

The group agreed that his second time was stronger. But what about his “emotional spontaneity”?

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Don't give up! You can do it! Practice!

Did he give up some of his initial extemporaneous expressions for those of a more contrived nature? My loyal adversary watched the recordings a couple days later (I give all my participants copies of their video clips to keep) and emailed me that to him, there was a natural and emphatic “blink in the eyes” that you couldn’t have repeated on command with the same impact.

Without debating the impact derived from a single blink, let’s broaden the topic to consider overall impact from a lengthy speech. What are the benefits of practice? Here are some of my reasons:

Why Practice?

1. You will KNOW your material. More than anything else, practice will prevent you from losing your train of thought or completely omitting a point. I don’t have to toss a stone too far on this one to hit Sarah Palin’s recent rambling ad-lib-a-thon US presidential endorsement of Donald Trump.

(This, of course, presumes you have actually written a script or an outline or something on which you can practice. We can’t make that same presumption with Palin.)

2. You will get rid of FILLERS. This is connected to Reason Number 1, but I list it separately to remind you that fillers are killers. When we don’t know precisely what we want to say next, many of us unconsciously add “uhh”, “you know”, “uhm”, “eh” or any other number of distracting – and unprofessional – utterances. These interrupt the smooth flow of our messages and can be completely disruptive to a highly expectant audience.  I was told of a performance professional who once counted a whopping 37 of these during a presentation made by someone who had eschewed his urging to practice. Speaking with fillers is a sure-sign that you are a rookie and will undermine whatever it is you’re trying to say.

3. You will be more CONFIDENT. Whenever anyone asks me the best way to reduce nervous butterflies, I encourage them to practice more. When you know what you are going to say, in the order that you are going to say it and have practiced doing so OUTLOUD several times, you WILL gain confidence.

4. Knowing your structure gives you FREEDOM. The confidence you have in knowing what you are going to say, allows you the freedom to be in the moment with your audience. I don’t advocate strict and unwavering memorization of a text. I encourage you to know it well enough that you can relax and have a genuine conversation with your audience. Think about the actor who explores a well-known role. Presentation delivery should be like a pianist playing a concert.  You know the piece so well, you are in the moment. You know what emotions your words are conveying. Don’t be a robot. Experience what you are saying with them. Watch their faces for verbal cues and give a little more or edit a bit depending.

5. Your Audience will APPRECIATE your professionalism. When you are comfortable and confident, your audience will be more so too. Nobody wants to watch someone ramble. You’re wasting their time.

6. Your MESSAGE will be MORE clearly understood. As with Reason Number 5, it’s frustrating for an audience to have to try and follow someone who doesn’t have a clear path. Audiences have other things on their minds. It’s up to you to make sure you’re easily understood and remembered. Don’t forget to tell them what’s in it for them!

Okay! There are six reasons why it’s beneficial to practice your next presentation. To help round out this topic, next time, I will outline some helpful tips for HOW to PRACTICE.

I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences with practice. When you did it to perfection and when you didn’t. What happened? What could have happened??

One quick follow-up from my loyal opposition: he has since emailed me that he is going to change his approach and try to practice more. I love that we’re engaging deeper on this issue. That’s how progress is made! He added in his last email that he’s “not a good repeater. Even if I do the same presentation several times, I use different words.”

That’s okay. As I mentioned above, you do not have to memorize your entire presentation word for word – to repeat it exactly the same way every time.  I do encourage you to have your introduction and your final closing lines pretty close to memorized. That ensures your message is solidly delivered. But again, the confidence you have from practicing your overall structure, will allow you the freedom to act within that structure.

The more your practice, the more you can really explore!

Cheers! Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 


Networking Master Class.

Real tips that work. Not theoretical ideas that don’t.

That’s the approach I strive for no matter what I train/coach/consult around.  But especially personally important for me is the concept of “networking.”  After all, I have lived and worked and met new people in such far-flung places as Cairo, Paris, Denver and now Ireland.

Last night the Cork Chamber hosted me before a gathering of some 70 business leaders as I led a “Master Class” on how to meet people at these types of contrived gatherings.

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I break it down this way:  BEFORE, DURING, AFTER.

BEFORE

1. Be Google-worthy!  Make sure when someone Googles you they find something! And the what they find is current, friendly and relevant.

Linked In. If you’re not on Linked In, do it.  This is your virtual office that you can invite people to.  I’m not going to go into details, but at the very least, make sure you have a photo in your profile, your summary is a compelling story of you, not some boring CV listing, and add photos, articles, clippings, etc.  And yes, post, post, post! This is where you can really come alive.

Twitter. This is your online “email” system. People can follow you. You can follow them back and then you can DM. Just like email but faster.  It’s lively and I find more and more professionals are using it as a way to instant meet-up.

All the rest. Facebook is like your online living room. I don’t know. Do you want everyone in there with you? Do you have a professional account and a personal account? Up to you.  Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat (Obama’s doing it now…).  Do any and all of the rest as you have time and inclination. But at the very, very least – do Linked In.

2. Register, Research, Reach-out! Most networking events offer online sign-up and registration lists. Virtual communities to engage with even before you go to the event- or conference – or whatever.   If you research the lists, you can find people you can reach out to beforehand – Remember, you should be able to find them on Linked In or Twitter, right?  I asked around at my meeting and a few hands went up with stories of how positively this had worked for them.  The President of the Chamber was, in fact, going to have a coffee with a new person he reached out to via the registry of an upcoming conference  - before the  actual conference takes place. Good stuff.  However, the large majority of the room admitted they have never done this.  Now is the time!

DURING

1. Go early. Go alone. If you don’t know anyone, you can always find the host if you come a bit early. If you come with a friend, you may be inclined to stick to your safe person. That may limit you.  Stand up tall in a “power posture” and then talk to the registration people, the photographer, the drinks servers. Ask them to introduce you to someone. If you’re early, they probably will have time to help guide you.

2. Don’t work the room. Don’t be a dork. Zipping along from person to person and handing out cards is meaningless. Better to have a nice conversation with the host or one other person who is a veteran in the group than to flutter around aimlessly.

3. Ask. Don’t tell. Yes, be ready to say what you do in about 4 seconds. But it’s much friendlier to take an interest in the other person. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask follow-up questions.

4. Offer to help. Some call this section, “Add value” – but in the spirit of keeping it real and not sounding so businessy, I just say, “”try to find ways to help.”  If you know of a book that might be a good read for someone, recommend it. Likewise if you know a good plumber or some other product or service that me be relevant to the person you may be speaking with.

AFTER

1. Follow-up and follow-through. If you did recommend a book, add the link to where that book can be bought in your follow-up email.  You should follow-up as quickly as possible. The next day if at all possible.  Be friendly, don’t be desperate.  No matter who these people are, you are another human so don’t overly genuflect. Just be nice.

There’s much more that  we covered last night, but these are some good starters.

barry and me edit

As they say, “You really had to be there” to get the full impact of our role-playing, Q&A and other lively interactions.  But,  I hope you pick up a tip or two, but more importantly, put them into action to work for you!

 As a final word of tried and true wisdom, If you want a friend, be a friend. “

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.


Renew Your Hope for the New Year

As I was leaving the cafe here in almost always dampy-misty-drizzly Ireland, I first held open the door for an elderly lady.

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She smiled up at me as she walked into the dreary outside and said, “Here’s hoping the rain stops soon and we get a burst of precious sunshine.”

I smiled back at her and nodded.  But inside my head was surprised. I thought a bit cynically, "Man, that lady must’ve been around for at least seventy years. She should be used to this perpetually grey weather...

...how funny she’s still making comments about hoping for sun.”

The lady at the café is like most of my Irish friends and acquaintances. They who keep, as they will tell you, “getting on with it.”  They who continue to take care of business, their families and their lives. One eye turned upward in hope of a glimpse of precious sun.

I am certain we have all had our share of emotional rain.  This year, in particular, with so many deadly shootings and terrorist attacks across the globe, it’s not overstating it to bemoan that we have endured more than our share.

And yet, there’s still hope.

Just a couple of days ago, as it began to roll out its holiday “year-ender” pieces,The New York Times took a moment to reflect on some of the brighter moments in 2015 in an expression of hope for sanguine things yet to come.  

So no. The lady’s sentiment was not funny at all.  After I considered that encounter a little longer, I realize hers is only way to be. Unceasingly hopeful.

Simple hope is not enough, of course.  We also have to take positive steps toward realizing the benefits that the vision of hope plants within us.

What are you hoping for? Great. Now in 2016, what are you going TO DO about it?  What active steps? Incremental successes toward a defined goal.  Now is the time to begin.  To achieve what you hope for.

No matter how much rain, we must remain hopeful that the sun is around the bend.

You know the saying,

You can’t have a rainbow without first some rain.

It seems especially true to me leaving here in Ireland.  The land of rain.  The land of rainbows.

Here’s to a 2016 full of hope and positive action!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 


America’s Brand getting scorched from Donald Trump’s Firebrand

Among the services provided under my title umbrella as a “Communications Consultant,” I work with executives to improve their “Professional Brand.”

I stress the importance of taking ownership for everything you say, present, write, tweet, or whatever and  help my clients focus on making sure every written and spoken word is as thoughtful and deliberative as possible to better engage and motivate their audience.

It made sense then, this weekend, as I sat in Dublin at the microphone across from RTE1 radio Business Show host Richard Curran, that we would be discussing the impact of the words from one of the most spotlighted professional brands in the world at this moment, US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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The question at hand: how have his ongoing invectives hurt his brand, his business, his organization?

Not much, is the short answer. His business and personal brand remain consistent: Power. Maverick Leadership. Boldness. “I Don’t Care” – a phrase he often says.

You’ll recall after verbally bashing Hispanics during the summer, Trump is now, following recent deadly attacks conducted by a handful of radicalized Muslims, taking aim at the entire global population of Muslims (more than 1.6 billion people).  Among other measures, the Republican front-runner is calling for a total ban on allowing them to enter the United States.

Certainly, Trump is a man who understands what it means to have a powerful brand.  Simply paying for the licensing right to slap his mighty last name (in all-caps and in gold, of course) on hotels all over the world brings his organization millions each year.

And while the media, as well as the political GOP establishment, continue to express alarm, the business repercussions Trump is experiencing are really quite humble when you consider the proportional impact to his multi-billion-dollar empire.

Yes, the Middle East department store chain “Lifestyle” removed Trump products from its shelves, and one notable Dubai-based businessman, Khalaf al-Habtoor, wrote a column telling Muslim countries it’s a “huge mistake” to associate with the firebrand candidate, but most of Trump’s Muslim associates have clearly decided to separate politics from big-money business.

For instance, Damac, a Muslim-owned company that was jointly developing “Akoya” estates around a Trump golf club in Dubai, initially covered the Trump name on the sign in front of the property after Trump’s anti-Muslim remarks.  Thursday, however, the name is once again emblazoned. A spokesperson stated the company would not comment on “the internal American political debate scene.”  That scene, in which Trump is still way out in front of the eight other Republican-hopefuls, making it appear that the business community is hedging their bets.

So, it’s unlikely that his ongoing rants against women and minorities is anything accidental – nor as what some people refer to as “PR disasters.”  It’s all part of Trump’s calculated and consistent professional brand.

A brand powerful enough to prompt the US conservative magazine, “National Review” just last week, to acknowledge Trump as the party’s “Alpha-dog.”

The article compares the communication styles between would-be front-runner Jeb Bush, who is lagging in the polls with “The Donald” writing,

Bush is an accomplished public servant and profoundly decent man whose theory of the race has been that the party needs an adult. But the party wants a leader. While there’s overlap between those two things, they aren’t identical. An adult makes sure everyone is operating within the bounds of established rules; a leader changes the rules.

As a veteran CNN anchor and correspondent, and international campaign strategist, I am a believer in the power of communications to engage and motivate employees, clients, friends, family, you name it.

Clearly, Donald Trump is effectively leveraging his brand and resonating with a significant group in the Republican party - the “ethno-nationalists” as some pundits are calling the “Trump-ists.”

But his gold-plated, all-capital-letter, loud-mouthed, “I Don’t Care” brand is also spilling over onto the nation as a whole, casting an intolerant, knee-jerk, racist shadow over the United States upon the world stage.

We're not all billionaires, but especially at this precious holiday time of light, peace and love, the Donald’s “Brand” is something we can afford to do without.

Copyright Gina London 2015.  All Rights Reserved. 


How to help a "Butterfly Child" this Christmas

During this holiday season when businesses and individuals often dedicate a portion of their earnings to charity, I just learned about a great cause and would like to share with you.

It’s like the ongoing charity blockbuster “Band Aid”  -

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w7jyVHocTk?wmode=transparent]

....on a bit smaller, but no less poignant, scale.

Using music to help others less fortunate, a terrific group of Irish school kids is supporting children from the remote Kenyan Samburu tribe, whose members are known as the “Butterfly People,” due to their vibrant attire.

Through the Thorn Tree Project, which supports the initiative, the Clonakilty, Ireland school has been using technology to exchange conversations about culture and traditions with their African friends.

Earlier this month, famed award-winning film producer, (Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, The Mission among many others) Lord David Puttman visited the Irish school and spoke of his enthusiasm for the giving project as both sides raised the collaborative ante to come together virtually to compose and sing a wonderful song dedicated to the dreams of all children, called, appropriately, “Butterfly Child.”  [Click here to read the article written by my friend Ailin Quinlin from the Irish Examiner who brought this to my attention. Thanks, Ailin]

That song is now available on iTunes.  A portion of each purchase goes toward the teaching and training of the Samburu children.

Listen and watch the song right here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiNkJrOnibY?wmode=transparent]

A proper education makes the difference for us all. And with your help, it can enrich the lives of the Samburu Butterfly Children too.

A terrific song for a terrific cause during this, the giving season.  Thanks for listening, and for sharing.

in gratitude, Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 


This Season of Giving, Consider Giving the Gift of You!

What’s the Power of your Personal Brand?

Who knows? And you’ll never know if you don’t start sharing the story of YOU.

Because, quite simply, that’s what Brand is. It’s the story. Of a Product. Of a Service. Of You.

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Tomorrow I’ve been invited to speak before a group of executives from a wide-range of multi-national companies. Each year they come together to share stories of what has worked  - and what hasn’t – to add value for everyone.

This idea of collaboration or “open source” of best practices, is the same thing you can accomplish when you get serious about cultivating your personal brand.  

Of course, “BRAND” is an over-used word that has come a long way from when it was simply a metal tool used to mark cattle.

Now it’s about leaving your own mark – telling others what you have learned during your own professional journey.

A businessman I met on the train today up to Dublin told me that he loves hearing how others have dealt with disappointment or failures.  Stories of overcoming adversity inspire him to keep going when times are tough on the job.

Are you telling your own stories?  That’s actively taking charge of your brand.

No matter where you are in your career, you likely have a story to tell.

You don’t have to be an expert. But maybe you already are.  Think about it.  The difference often between yourselves and someone who markets themselves as an expert – is probably only that they have self-proclaimed the title.  You can give yourself that too.

If not now, when?  And if not you, then who?

There are a myriad of ways to do this.   And make no mistake whether or not you’re taking ownership of these ways, people are still forming opinions about you.   You are already cultivating your brand. Just perhaps not purposefully.

I focus on three main ways.

They’re all linked and they all overlap. The important thing is to start thinking about it. And then turn those thoughts into action. Okay, so here are your ABC’s.

A – Appearance. Like it or not, this is your first impression.  Are your shoes polished? Hair groomed? Appropriately dressed for the event, dinner, meeting occasion? You’d be surprised how many people phone this one in.

B - Behaviour. – You don’t have to open your mouth. What you do, how you look, how you listen, how you move, all say it for you. Remember,

 You are never not communicating.”

C – Communications. – Although A and B also communicate to your audience, this is where you can really get results:  I subdivide this into another three:

1. Written – this is all CONTENT -  from emails, to weekly meetings,  to presentations.  What strategy do you apply before you create your message? The methodology I apply is AIM: Consider your  Audience, Intent and Message.

2. Spoken -  this is your delivery mode -  the WAY you speak. Your volume, your tone, your pacing, your inflections. All of these add up to a reflection of you. And not just in a big presentation, either.  How do you talk to your colleagues? Your direct reports? Your managers?

3. SOCIAL MEDIA - And finally: a great thing for some – and a dreaded thing for others. The Social Media piece. Yes, social media.

So – who’s on Twitter? Instagram?  Vine??

Okay..Here’s the basics. And if you’re reading this on Linked In, the answer is obvious, but anyway, let’s dig deeper:  Who’s on Linked in?

With a photo that looks friendly and not like you’re wanted for a crime?

With a profile that’s not just a rundown of your CV – but that tells a story of your experiences, accomplishments and value?

That’s in first person?

And for the real bonus – who regularly posts essays on Linked in?  This is a great way to share your stories to a broader audience.

You’ll be on your way to becoming a thought leader – but really, during this season of giving, if you can share a story of overcoming adversity or disappointment that impacts even one person in a positive way, that’s worth it, isn’t it?

Happy holidays and happy sharing and giving.

Gina

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.