Roll With It

Last week, I started a list of suggestions for how we could live and operate our businesses from a place of greater happiness.  This is a list of what could make us happier people and better business leaders but it could also be interpreted as a list of the things that make us miserable or our lives and businesses harder than it has to be… if we don’t pay attention to them.  This list won’t be a completely comprehensive one, how could it be?  I’m positive that each one of you could add a suggestion or two.  But, it will be the top ten choices from my own study, both anecdotal and researched.  Here’s our second installment…

Suggestion #1:  Assume the best.

Suggestion #2:  Roll with it.

We all believe that what we are seeing and experiencing in our work and life is THE reality.  We write our own movie all the time and we’ve been at the center of it with every experience.  We know what we want to happen.  The problem is everyone else is living inside their own movie too… and it’s not the same as ours.  According to our script, others forget their lines, don’t love us properly or at all, don’t give us the raise or promotion we deserve, and sometimes leave us at the absolute worst time… and our movie is ruined.

Don’t hold too tight to your pre-written script for business or life.  I tell speakers that I coach all the time that of course we have to prepare and practice but on the day of their performance, the very best speakers let go, connect with what this audience is going to give them and embrace whatever is bound to show up in the room.  It rarely ever goes exactly as we’d planned.  The best speakers let go of their script and step fully into the moment wide open and agile… accepting fully “what is.”

We have to constantly be rewriting our script or even better, lose it altogether.  Let someone else star in it once in a while.  Welcome in new characters.  Embrace plot twists.  Laugh at set and costume malfunctions.  And notice how much more fluid your life and business becomes when you don’t hold too tight to the “way it’s supposed to go or be” and instead embrace “what is.”


“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”  ~~Ann Landers

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Seeing the Best

Does being happy matter in business? I think it does, and there is plenty of current research to show that it matters more and more to the customers, clients, and patients in today’s marketplace. 
  
Someone asked me recently, “How is it that you’re able to be so happy with all that’s going on in the world today?” They were speaking specifically about the political and racial climate, but you can “fill in the blank” with your own topic. 
  
We all know it’s a choice. It’s a decision to feel happy despite what others feel and in spite of what may be happening around us. It’s a determination to not only feel good and find the good when things are going well but also even when they are not. It’s a commitment to find the good and the beautiful even when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It’s a belief that feeling bad for very long doesn’t accomplish anything constructive especially in relation to the things we’d like to change or improve. 
  
But how? How do we do it consistently? What is it that happy people do or understand that the rest of us don’t on a regular basis? Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a stab at that question. I’ve done some research and talked to others who I know to be basically happy and living most of their life in joy and gratitude, and I’ve done some thinking about the tools, techniques, and mindsets that have helped me personally move into and stay fairly consistent with one of the happiest phases of my life so far. I’ll submit them as suggestions to living a happier life and employing happiness as a solid business strategy for yourself and your team.
Suggestion #1: Assume the best.
Your charity didn’t include you in the list of contributors, even though you donated. You weren’t invited to dinner when a group of colleagues went out. Someone cut you off on the freeway. The cashier short-changed you. And you are mad… or at the least, offended. 
  
We ascribe bad intent and get offended so easily without ever really knowing the truth for sure. Sometimes people are upfront about their true intentions, but most of time we just assume it for them. I don’t think we are on the minds of most people to whom we ascribe poor intent nearly as often as we think we are. I believe that most of the time these episodes (which we think are personal affronts, intentional slights, or outright attacks) are more often innocuous and accidental at best or misguided mistakes at the worst. 
  
Happy people do not do this. They are in the habit of assuming the best in others and intentionally assigning good intent, or at least neutral intent, until proven otherwise. This doesn’t mean they necessarily like what happens, but they don’t automatically assume the worst in everyone or every situation. 
  
This week, heighten your awareness about how quickly you ascribe poor intent without real proof. Notice the lightness and happiness when you decide to assign the person or situation a dose of good intention instead. Cut them some slack. Make room for mistakes (remembering times when you may have done or said something similar without meaning it.) Exercise grace and forgiveness. It’s not weakness but rather great strength to see the best in the face of the worst. This is the core of optimism… a key component in great self-leadership. 

“Grace has been defined at the outward expression
of the inward harmony of the soul. ” 
~~ William Hazlitt
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Issue Resolution

From time to time, issues arise between members of any team which require resolution in order for the team to continue to function at its highest level. Following are six points to remember for positive and successful issue resolutions:

  1. Turn your complaints into requests.
  2. Change “you” statements to “I” or “we/us” statements.
  3. Never go backwards! Focus on the future only.
  4. Offer a solution or new idea.
  5. Avoid making demands. Ask for someone’s help in solving the issue in a mutually beneficial way.
  6. Avoid generalizations like “you always” or “you never.”

Notice how different these two examples sound and feel. See how easy it is to utilize and incorporate all six of the techniques above in just a few sentences:

Complaint: You never clean your instruments before you leave for the day. You got off on time but I had to stay late every day last week to finish them.”

Request: “Cheryl, I’d like to ask for your help. Could we sit down together one day this week – say, Wednesday at noon – and develop a system to make sure all the instruments are cleaned and properly put away at the end of every day? I have some great ideas about it and wanted to ask for your help in developing a system that would work for both of us.

Remember:

  • Avoid a sarcastic or condescending tone when making your request.
  • Most people are reasonable and want to work out differences just like you. Expect to work it out.
  • Be respectful that “right now” may not be a good time for the other person involved. Ask permission to discuss it now or to pick a good time (be specific) in the near future.
  • Listen and smile! Recognize every human’s greatest need is to just be heard and understood. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. And a soft smile can powerfully communicate optimism and kind intent.

This week, we recycled one of our most popular MMS’s  from several years ago.
Our 
new subscribers will enjoy  Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience.   And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers
from the beginning… you’ll remember why we love seeing
the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

    
 
Bring Out The Leader In You! 
Unleash the Instinctive Practice Manager and Trainer in YOU!
Motivate you and your team to do more, enjoy more and BE MORE!
 
Have you ever glimpsed someone greater inside of you?
Ever glimpsed it in someone else?
What can we learn from the Lioness’ Approach?
    
Join renowned international speaker and trainer, Katherine Eitel Belt, as she takes you on a journey of discovery into the wilds of your own potential, through the jungle of effective training skills and helps you master a simple principle that is key to unlocking the instinctive greatness within yourself and others.   

“Nothing big will ever come from being small.”
~~ Abraham Lincoln

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Lost and Found

I love poetry. I get that from my mother.

I recently heard a poem on an Oprah podcast with Eckhardt Tolle called Lost by David Wagoner. It stopped me in my tracks.

“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes behind you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, and you must treat it like a powerful stranger. Must ask permission to know it and be known.”

Stand still. Ask permission to know it and be known.

This is a “be careful what you ask for” moment for me. I asked for success. I asked for prosperity. I asked for a way to share what I’ve learned and what I love with the world and The Universe said, “Absolutely… Yes!” And now, I find myself on a Friday night seated mid-cabin on a 100% full Southwest flight bound for Minneapolis from Grand Rapids via Chicago. And my Tom? He’s driving somewhere on a lonely 395 Highway in the middle of the Californian desert in a fully-loaded Nissan Murano accompanied only by our sweet Sierra bound for Echo Lakes and our “Silver Firs” cabin. Hmmm.

Stand still. Wherever you are is called Here.

It would be so easy to sit on this flight and lament where I am not. Not with Tom. Not with sweet Sierra. Not in a Nissan Murano on the 395 headed to our cabin at Echo Lakes. Instead, I’m stuffed into a Southwest flight on a Friday night somewhere over the Midwest.

But, Wagoner’s poem reminds me that where I truly am is called, “Here.” And “Here” is the result of a company I’ve groomed and grown for this very moment. “Here” is a tipping point of success where the LionSpeak message has reached a mass audience and is transforming into an undeniable force. “Here” is a fully vested body of work I’ve always wanted to do. “Here” is an amazing space if… I will not try to be “There” instead.

I will join Tom at the cabin soon and this year, because of his retirement and career change to organic farming, we’ll spend the entire month of August and most of September living and working from Silver Firs as our summertime home-base. So, I’ll not try to be There when I am actually “Here.” As David Wagoner suggests, I’ll treat my “Here” as a powerful stranger and ask permission to know it and to be known.

You can bet this poem will make its way into our cabin journal this year. I adore its wisdom and truth. This week, join me in embracing our “Here,” loving our present, and being grateful for all that has brought us to this moment in our lives. And then we can simply be eager for more and look forward to “There.”

Lost by David Wagoner,
from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems


Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes behind you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to the Raven.
No two branches are the same to the Wren.
If what a tree or a branch does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

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“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do
if you stay in the present moment.”
~~ Deepak Chopra

 

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Music Monday: An American Child

 

There are certain passages in our lives which create personal bonds so deep that the flow of time has no effect on their strength or impact on you. My high school experience was one of those passages. With only 38 kids in my graduating class, we were close. So close in fact, that our teachers insisted we take a moment in the dark school cafeteria after the ceremony, and before we went out to see our families, to say our goodbyes to one another as classmates. Some of us were headed to college in the Fall. Others would stay to work on the family farm or ranch. A few would seek their fortunes in the workplace. Two were already married and pregnant. I remember an instant knowing in my gut that it would be years before I would cross paths with most of them and some I would likely never see again. Understanding that fully felt like a small earthquake shifting the ground beneath my feet leaving everything I’d known before permanently rearranged.

We had a great 10-year reunion but nothing else until last week when I traveled to Montgomery, Texas to attend my 40th. With such a small class, this reunion included 4 – 5 classes at a time in the hopes of having a handful actually show up. Montgomery, a once sleepy little country town was now all grown up and thriving but many of our old haunts were still recognizable. It was so good to see my classmates after all these years and hear where their lives have taken them. As you would expect, we shared stories of old teachers and football games, mishaps and skip days, classic pranks and memorable moments. We remembered a few who had already left us and those who have seemingly disappeared.

Some of the stories we shared were about teachers, pastors, and upper classmen who had inspired us and those who sadly had the opposite effect. One of my classmates told of a teacher who allowed him to take and retake (and retake) a test of the most common misspelled words in the English language. Having already flunked English once because he couldn’t write an essay, she told him he was making it way too hard and that by memorizing a simple formula, he could write a good essay… or at least one that would pass. He said the fact that he ultimately became the editor of the local newspaper (which he still runs it today) was largely due to her unwillingness to give up on him, her belief in his ability and the way she championed him at every turn some 40 years ago.

But, another classmate shared a different story. An African American student navigating a school system which had only recently integrated, recalled a white counselor, who was clearly struggling to make the long-overdue shift along with the rest of the world, telling him that he should not bother taking Algebra 2 or calculus because he would not need it unless he went to college which he would never be able to afford. Fortunately for him, there were other teachers and influences in his life who encouraged him differently and today, he holds a master’s degree from the University of Houston.

On this 4th of July, one of my most favorite holidays, we celebrate a nation built on the idea of dreaming big. A nation which provides opportunities to every child and every adult to chase their dreams. This day reminds me that what we say, even off-handedly, to others (especially young people) about their abilities, hopes, and dreams can leave a lasting impression and make a difference, positively or negatively, on the outcome.

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I chose American Child by Phil Vassar because it’s a favorite song on my “Patriotic” playlist but also because I love his lyric: Dreams can grow wild born inside an American child.

This week, as you celebrate our nation’s independence with your family and team, remember that one of the most precious attributes of our freedom is that anyone can be or become anything they dream. Our gift to them as great personal leaders is to be their champion, the voice of encouragement and on occasion, to show them the greatness we can see in them but which they may not be able to see in themselves.

Phil Vassar – American Child

“I was ten, I was thin, I was playing first base
With a second-hand glove and dirt on my face
In nowhere Virginia, who’d ever figure
That kid in the yard would go very far?

‘Cause 419 Lakewood had no silver spoons
Just an old beat up upright that played out of tune
Now I’m singing and living the life that I love
And when I count my blessings I thank God I was

An American child
An American child
‘Cause dreams can grow wild
Born inside an American child

7 lbs. 3 oz., she’s got my nose
And she’s into my heart as deep as it goes
With a promise that’s more than just someone’s last name
Anyone’s equal, in late August came

An American child
An American child
My Grandfather would have been 80 today
But in ’45 he fell down beside

An American child
An American child
‘Cause dreams can grow wild
Born inside an American child”

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The Most Important Business Tool

Warren Buffet was recently asked what he felt the number one necessary business skill was today. His answer? Public speaking.

In much of our work here at LionSpeak with corporate executive teams or sales teams, I agree 100%. But, I wondered. Would that also apply to my other primary market of dentists, veterinarians, and other discretionary healthcare providers? They are not professional speakers. They typically don’t address large groups at corporate annual sessions. Most of their business conversations are one-on-one or small groups of a just a few team members.

Turns out that while that is still true, some important elements have changed. There are now multiple opportunities to drive business with this single skill in today’s healthcare marketplace. With the increase in practice consolidations and group practice, more owners are needing to keep larger and larger groups of employees motivated and clear about company priorities and direction. On the flipside, as private practices struggle to keep their place on the healthcare map, they must become much better, even flawless, at leading their small to medium size teams to higher levels of patient service and treatment excellence in order to compete.

Also, there are more and more markets where public information forums can be one of the very best marketing strategies to grow a patient base who have a specific treatment need. One of the best examples of this is a recent LionSpeak client, Dr. Hazel Glasper from Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Glasper came to us initially for speaker’s coaching to compete in a national speaker’s competition held every year at the annual meeting of the Speaking Consulting Network. She was an ideal coaching client. Hazel did the work, put in the practice, and nailed the competition taking top honors last month in Orlando.

However, another reason she wanted to improve her speaking skills was to continue to dominate her marketplace as the leader of a public outreach called “Teach Me Dental” which aims to redefine how the public understands and treats their dental health especially as it relates to their overall health. Through her ability to speak in such a passionate, convincing, clear, and inspirational way, she has become the leading expert in her community on these issues. She delivers well-attended public forums, collaborates with other civic organizations, hospitals, and non-profits, and is frequently interviewed on television and radio shows. Her ability to communicate her message to her team, patients, other healthcare providers, community leaders, and the public at large has created a thriving dental practice as well as a burgeoning speaking and coaching career.

So, I will have to wholeheartedly agree now with Mr. Buffet that indeed public speaking skills are a necessary skill for any business professional, no matter the industry. The art of public speaking is nothing more than the ability to address any size group of people and create absolute clarity about your message as well as the inspiration within them to take action. Whether that’s your team, your patients, other collaborative professionals, or potential patients… this is a skill every dental, veterinary, and healthcare professional needs, certainly as much as any corporate executive, team leader, or sales representative.

This week, think about and discuss where you and your teammates could utilize and improve your speaking skills as a business tool. If you’re like most people you may find that many of you have some anxiety about this idea and you really don’t need to. There are definitive strategies to handle your nerves and embrace, and even enjoy, taking the stage front and center. Imagine the possibilities if you weren’t hesitant to seek out great opportunities to share your message, your passion, and your unique selling proposition… and you had the confidence to deliver that well. Where could it take your practice and your own career?

Warren Buffet is a billionaire and a very smart man. Mastering the art of public speaking helped him get there. It can help you get there too.

 

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Craft speeches and stories that Illuminate, Educate, and Captivate!
_______________________________________________

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INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER’S WORKSHOP

Great speeches illuminate great ideas, creating breakthrough moments for an audience. Well-told stories “prime the emotional pump” of your audience or team to hear your message and create unforgettable moments of clarity and inspiration.

Learn More

Two Ways to Participate:

Active Participant $1800
*Early Bird $1500
Observation Participant $1500
*Early Bird $1200

July 27 – 28, 2017
Sacramento, CA
Click here to Register

*November 8 – 9, 2017
San Diego, CA
Click here to Register

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”
~~ Jim Rohn

 

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True Freedom

Today is Juneteenth… an official State holiday in Texas. Growing up in Texas, I can remember Juneteenth celebrations in the small, country town in which I was raised. There would definitely be BBQ, cold beer, and for some reason as tradition dictated… strawberry soda pop.

The story of Juneteenth is an interesting one. It celebrates the day that Major General Gordon Granger landed with his troops in Galveston on June 19, 1865 to finally enforce the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas which had been signed into law by President Lincoln in Washington, DC… two and a half years earlier. Seriously.

There are several stories about why there was such a delay for slaves to obtain their freedom in Texas. Often told is a story about a messenger who was murdered on his way to deliver the news that the slaves had been freed. Another theory is that slave owners banded together and deliberately withheld the news for economically selfish reasons and yet another is that federal troops actually waited for slave owners to reap the benefits of one more cotton harvest before enforcing the law.

Whatever the reason, the news sent shock waves emanating out from the docks in Galveston but was quickly followed by a long-awaited, collective jubilation. This huge celebration became the tradition we now call Juneteenth. This day is so revered by Texans, especially descendants of former slaves, that many still make a pilgrimage every year to Galveston to remember and honor this historic day.

As the Major General addressed the crowds in Galveston, these were his first few words…

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

Reading this paragraph, I was struck by the sentence, “the connection existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.” It reminded me that today we are free even if we feel bound in our work or relationships. We always have choices- thank goodness. We have choices about who we work for and who works for us. And many, many people sacrificed to make sure that this was and still is the case. I think it’s a disgrace to blame anyone else for our choice to stay in a job or keep someone on your team when it is not a good fit, and I try never to allow fear to steer my decision if I know it’s a bad fit.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked in plenty of jobs where I was unhappy and knew it was not my final stop because there was nothing else available, and I had children to feed. But freedom is not just in the decision to leave but also in taking responsibility for the decision to stay and owning it 100% until you can make a different choice.

Great self-leaders know this is an important mindset not only for themselves but also to assist others in their life. We have almost daily opportunities to show people who blame, complain, and gossip that there is a much more empowered platform from which to operate. Gently steering the conversation to what might be possible is a great way to improve the culture in your team at work and in your family and circle of friends.

Today and this week, celebrate Juneteenth and all it stands for. Take a stand for living a life of empowerment and always operating “at choice.” Stop blaming anyone else for your state of employment, happiness, fitness, or any other part of your life that you don’t like. Gently and kindly help others to look at what’s possible instead of what’s not and to step into their future by owning their choices. This is how great teams support one another… not by agreeing about what’s wrong but agreeing what could be right or made right.

Oh, and when you’re celebrating Juneteenth… don’t forget the Texas BBQ and some ice-cold strawberry soda!

Become a ROARING Lioness Speaker!
Craft speeches and stories that Illuminate, Educate, and Captivate!
_______________________________________________

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INSPIRATIONAL SPEAKER’S WORKSHOP

Great speeches illuminate great ideas, creating breakthrough moments for an audience. Well-told stories “prime the emotional pump” of your audience or team to hear your message and create unforgettable moments of clarity and inspiration.

Learn More

Two Ways to Participate:

Active Participant $1800
*Early Bird $1500
Observation Participant $1500
*Early Bird $1200

July 27 – 28, 2017
Sacramento, CA
Click here to Register

*November 8 – 9, 2017
San Diego, CA
Click here to Register

 

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.”
~~ Thucydides

 

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Sour Milk and Leadership

I know. It’s completely un-lady-like to drink milk straight from the container. However, occasionally when I’ve needed an ibuprofen for a headache to get to sleep and to put a little something in my stomach, I’ve reached straight for the container so as not to turn on all the lights or make too much noise. The last time I succumbed to this primitive, dreamstime_xs_56462260nocturnal behavior, I was already in mid-gulp before it registered on my taste buds and hit my brain… this carton of milk is sour!

Even though I rinsed thoroughly and downed an entire glass of water to clear the nasty taste… it lingered, perhaps just in my mind, and I swear I could still smell and taste it the next morning. The sour look on my face as I poured my first cup of coffee must have belied my nocturnal antics to anyone else in the room.

At a recent team meeting of a very large group practice, I swear that 90% of the attendees seemed to have the exact same look on their faces. Sour and frowning, they reminded me of people suffering from a mild case of constipation… slightly uncomfortable and largely irritated. With every issue someone raised, they were mostly resigned and negative, or worse… silent with only mild eye-rolling to communicate their lack of enthusiasm. Except for one.

She was relaxed but alert, soft-spoken but with powerful intention and clarity. It would have likely been easier to “join the crowd” than to stand out in this group as a positive beacon but she seemed un-phased by her colleagues’ attitudes. She raised bright ideas and alternatives, and asked questions directly to different team members like, “What if we could find a way to introduce financing to every patient without sounding salesy? Would you be willing to try it and report back at our next meeting as to the results, whether improved or not so we could adjust from there?” “How could we support you in finding a way to use the camera more in your operatory?” Or she would make encouraging statements such as, “We’ve overcome much worse in the past. I’m positive we’ll either find the answer ourselves or between all of us, find someone who can.”

At one point, as the tide of attitudes slowly started to turn in her favor, a teammate tentatively ventured out to offer an idea to a challenge and she offered with a smile, “I’d rather try an idea like yours and fail (at the least we could rule that one out!) than to keep doing what we’re doing and continue to be frustrated? What about all of you?”

It was nearly impossible to continue to look like you’d just tasted sour milk against the onslaught of her verbal leadership and optimism. She had chosen great “words” and communicated them well, but more importantly she had chosen those words from a platform of immense leadership. This emotional framework from which she spoke assumed that there was no challenge for which there was no answer or relief, that resources for finding help and ideas were abundant, and that her teammates were not “wrong” for being frustrated or disagreeing. She had no need to be “right” but was never swayed from a positive expectation of the future or the team’s ability to navigate it.

THIS is the emotional intelligence of great leadership. It’s a set of assumptions that reframes communication so you are open, appreciative, non-threatened and nonplussed when others around you are speaking from a negative perspective. It is a courageous stance of standing your ground and believing that everything serves and all is well.

This week, don’t wait for the leader in your group to show up and communicate strength, passion, optimism, and resourcefulness. Be that one. It’s often all that it takes to turn the tide.

And always smell the milk before you drink.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week, while Katherine joins fellow speakers and consultants at SCN’s annual meeting, we are recycling a favorite MMS from a few years ago. Our new subscribers will enjoy Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

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It’s a jungle out there!

Whether you manage 2 people or 200, join Katherine Eitel Belt, the Unscripted Communication Expert, as she takes us through the jungle of effective leadership, management, and training skills and demonstrates how adult learners make real and lasting change. She’ll share lessons on coaching teams that will forever impact the way you teach important information and the way you create consistency and accountability to ignite employees’ ultimate potential. 

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that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”
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Music Monday: Happy People

I’m breaking a promise, I know. I promised to continue this week with our breakdown of how to be exceptional on the telephone, but I totally spaced off that it would be Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), and I’ve been waiting all month to feature this great new song, “Happy People”, by Little Big Town. So, get over it and… be happy!

I’d describe my Dad as one of the happiest people I know. He doesn’t live a perfect life, but he’s happy pretty much no matter what happens. I’ve always dreamed that I could learn to live my life so that people would describe me that way. I think it would be a great epitaph at the end of a life well lived.

Based on a boatload of research over the last few decades, we know that the more we feel genuinely happy, the more we enjoy better relationships, improved health, and more prosperity at work… not to mention, just a better quality of life. So why are we surrounded by so many unhappy people?

You can feel a truly happy person when they walk in the room. They light up the atmosphere, not in an overbearing, attention-grabbing way but rather as a satisfied, relaxed, energetic force. I love the atmosphere that I can visibly create when I’m feeling truly happy inside. The trick is feeling this way even when things aren’t going your way.

Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect in your life or that things always work out for you. I don’t always feel happy, but I have developed a practice of reminding myself when I’m feeling out of sorts that I do have a choice and that it’s only one person’s responsibility to make sure that I make that choice…me! It requires me to do the one thing that defines great self-leadership: take responsibility for my own state of being.

Next, my practice is to focus on the two things that are the quickest roads back to happy: gratitude and faith. Gratitude brings balance and perspective and usually minimizes my angst. Faith settles my fear and helps to stifle the internal voice of worry and stress by reassuring me that things always work out and that, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”

A recent Harris poll determined that only one in three Americans say they are very happy and that we are less happy as a nation than we’ve ever been in history. What a shame that 1/3rd of our work force, parents, friends, and family are living mostly unhappy lives.

But, if their happiness is not our business or responsibility, then what’s there for us to do about that fact? Tune them out, cajole them, or avoid them altogether? I believe the best thing we can do is to live our lives as a shining example of self-leadership and as people who understand the art of managing our internal experiences no matter the external circumstances, not in an arrogant or disconnected way but rather with the intention of bringing a peaceful example that all is well, good prevails, and happiness is within our control and reach at all times.

Little Big Town’s lyrics capture it pretty well, I think: Can’t buy it, gotta make it. You ain’t ever gonna be it by taking someone else’s away. Never take it for granted. You don’t have to understand it. Life is short and love is rare… and we all deserve to be happy while we’re here. If you don’t find yourself smiling and feeling a little happier when you watch the music video below, then you might need to check your pulse.

Leaders go first. And self-leaders know they’re in charge of their own experience and degree of happiness. I’m wishing you all a week ahead where, if asked, you would say you were “very happy” and that others who know, work, and live with you would agree based on the amount of joy that you bring to your interactions with them and the degree to which you light up the room as you enter. I hope they begin to describe you as one of the happiest people they know.

Little Big Town – Happy People

“Happy people don’t cheat
Happy people don’t lie
They don’t judge, or hold a grudge, don’t criticize
Happy people don’t hate
Happy people don’t steal
Cause all the hurt sure ain’t worth all the guilt they feel 

[Chorus]
If you wanna know the secret
Can’t buy it, gotta make it
You ain’t ever gonna be it
By takin’ someone else’s away
Never take it for granted
You don’t have to understand it
Here’s to whatever puts a smile on your face
Whatever makes you happy, people 

[Verse 2] Happy people don’t fail
Happy people just learn
Don’t think they’re above the push and shove
Just wait their turn
They always got a hand, or a dollar to spare
Know the golden rule or what you’re goin’ through
Even if they never been there 

 [Bridge]
These days ain’t always easy to find
They’re the ones that you want standing by your side
No time for greed, if they need some, give ’em a slice
And we’ll all be happy people 

[Outro]
Well, life is short
And love is rare
And we all deserve to be happy while we’re here”

 

 

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Building Relationships

As I write this, Tom and I are on our way home from a quick but marvelous NYC getaway where we celebrated our second-year wedding anniversary. In three days, we took in Central Park and an outdoor lunch at Tavern on the Green, a rainy afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum trying our best to absorb the beauty and wonder on display there and, the following day, had a thoughtful visit at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Our evenings were spent eating hot dogs at Yankee Stadium one night and prime steak at Del Frisco’s the next night just prior to enjoying Sara Barielles on Broadway, starring in Waitress. All-in-all, a fantastic way to celebrate our second year of marriage and seventh year of relationship. Life is certainly richer when you build and enjoy long-term relationships with people you love.

Business is also richer when you know how to create and sustain professional relationships. At LionSpeak we are dedicated to helping professionals communicate more effectively in an authentic and unscripted way. We focus on coaching three main types of communication interactions: 1) Client / Patient Communications (such as telephone skills and financial conversations), 2) Team Communications (such as team culture and agreements, meetings, leadership, and accountability), and 3) Audience Communications (such as executive speakers coaching and adult learning / training methods).

In the client communications arena, we train frontline service professionals to handle incoming and outgoing telephone calls effectively and with a high-level of consistency without a script. In addition, we offer a mystery shopper call service as an extension of our coaching to offer real-life feedback and opportunities for growth. We do this very, very differently than our competition. We train first and test second. We never record anyone without their permission, and we involve our students in the development of their training, working hard to help them truly “shine” on their mystery shopper call reports. We want them to see these calls as a way to advance their skills and careers, not as threat of being fired.

Because we take such an intentional and thoughtful approach to these calls, they’ve become extremely popular and we’ve been doing A LOT of them lately. We’ve noticed some consistent trends and mistakes that are so common that we’ve decided to dedicate the next few Monday Morning Stretches to what we’ve learned and how you can elevate your results very, very quickly.

The LionSpeak Telephone Skills System for converting new client calls is really very simple. We’ve broken it down into four easy steps: Relationship, Discovery, Solutions, and Details. In this week’s Stretch, let’s start with Step #1: Relationship

This is one of the easiest and most crucial steps in the process, but it’s also one of the most overlooked in our mystery shopper call reports. There are two ways to quickly build relationship with a potential client or patient: One is connection and the other is empathy. What distinguishes them is the client’s level of urgency. If the patient does not appear to be in pain or have other urgent concerns, the best way to build connection immediately is to get their name and begin to use it right away. Another way is to listen for any opening to connect with them on a personal level such as details about where they live, where they work, or their relationship with who referred them. For example, if someone says they just moved to your area, ask them what brought them here or how they like it so far, etc. If they mention a co-worker referred them, ask how long they have worked at the business and how closely they work with their friend, etc. This communicates to the potential client that you listened to and heard them and that you actually care about them as a human being … not simply a dollar bill or an appointment.

Another way to connect with a caller is to officially welcome them to your practice or business. Statements like, “Let me be the first to welcome you, Mr. Douglas,” or “I’m so glad you called us, Sara… welcome to our practice!” work really well. It’s a bit of an assumptive statement but one which we’ve found works exceptionally well to paint the picture of a future, long-term relationship.

If the client’s urgency level is high, the second way to build relationship is using empathy. It only makes sense that a client who is in pain, highly agitated, or has a high degree of anxiety will not want to spend time connecting with you on a personal level. They do however appreciate someone who seems to hear and understand their problem and appears committed to relieving it as soon as possible. To communicate empathy, you simply need to acknowledge that you understand the problem and appreciate the client’s level of concern or worry. Here’s an example: “I’m so sorry to hear that your tooth has been so painful, James. That sounds like it’s really been hard for you. Let’s see what we can do to get you feeling better quickly…” Statements like this express empathy, make a human connection, and begin the process of building relationship and trust.

More often than not, in an effort to be efficient, we hear frontline professionals moving quickly into gathering contact, financial, or insurance information before taking a second to connect with the caller first as a human being. This doesn’t have to be (and really shouldn’t be) a very long part of the conversation. It takes just a few seconds to connect on a personal level.

People engage, refer, and purchase at a higher level with people they know, like, and trust. If you feel you know, like, and trust someone … you are in relationship and the process of building that relationship should start from the very beginning of your phone call. Make sure you don’t skip this part and that you do it with a measured pace, upbeat tone, and beaming smile.

Next week, we’ll look at step #2 in our process, Discovery. Until then, have fun practicing connection and strengthening relationships.


“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” 
~~Paul J. Meyer

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