Thursday, January 29, 2009

action: the antidote to fear

I, like most people over 20, have been up nights lately worrying about the economy. What if the housing market really does crumble? What if more and more and more people lose their jobs until everyone is sitting at home with a bag of Oreos or Ritz Crackers or Ruffles staring at the TV? What if no one every hires me again and I pinch every last penny and still can't make ends meet? What if we're heading toward something like, "Children of God?" (God Forbid.) As I'm sure you've figured out by now I have a.) a BIG creative catastrophising-type mind and b.) had very little sleep in the recent past.

I am finding that this kind of fear can be paralyzing. It's a good thing for me to experience, because I coach people all day long who have a paralyzing fear of public speaking.

Anyway, today I had had all I could stand of standing still, so I picked up the 500 lb phone and started (gulp) calling people. Guess what? Not only were they happy to hear from me, they were eager to meet with me. SUNSHINE!! A new day! And I am a new (and not even so tired) woman.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's not a beauty pageant, or a fashion show

A few nights ago I went out into the freezing cold to hear National Managing Director of Bernstein Financial, Richard Abramson, speak about the state of the markets. Like most of us, I'm not a big fan of venturing out, about 30 minutes down the highway on a weeknight when I could be in my sweats curled up on the couch watching TV. But, like most of us, I've lost some sleep over the economy and I was hoping this guy could provide some insight. (I should also say here that the whole left side of my brain, the numbers side, limps along at best, but I am determined to be a better informed grown-up.)

I arrived about 20 minutes late, and went right up to the front. If there was valuable information to be heard, I wanted to catch every word. A youngish handsome guy was clicking through a pretty typical looking powerpoint presentation extolling the virtues of Bernstein, (which wasn't horrible and was mercifully short) at the conclusion of which he introduced the man we'd all come to hear.

Up to the poduim lumbers this beefy man, wearing what I'm sure was an expensive, but horribly ill-fitting suit, glasses so big they needed their own windshield wipers, fingers like sausages. You get the idea. A candidate for Bay Watch this man was not. But let me tell you, about 5 minutes into his presentation I was positively smitten. This guy could talk, in complete sentences, using compelling language, in a way I could (almost always) follow. Even more engaging was the fact that he was given to using rhetorical questions, self-deprecation and EVERYTHING he said and did telegraphed "This guy's the real deal." At the conclusion of his presentation it was all I could do not to beg him to take my money and invest it.

My point? Don't worry if your suit's too small, your glasses too big, your face and/or body not red-carpet worthy. Your audience doesn't care, and too much caring on your part only leads to preoccupation - on YOUR part, and boredom and disconnection on theirs. Worry instead about your message. Make sure you're communicating it in the best, clearest, most compelling way possible. Put your heart and mind in it. Nobody cares about the rest.