Monday, December 7, 2009

Office Party Etiquette: Remember Your Business Professionalism

Holiday time is here, and party invites are flowing.

Time for fun … and time for faux pas a plenty!

Here is my list of 9 holiday party mistakes to avoid making …

1) Not RSPVing when asked. Always respond to invitations – whether or not you can attend the event. This includes citing any guests who will be coming with you, too.

2) Making wardrobe mistakes. Always plan your wardrobe carefully, and ensure it’s appropriate attire for the event. For women, this means remembering that a party isn’t the time to show off cleavage. For men, the reminder is that no one needs to see your chest hair or 6-pack. For both genders, remember to limit how much skin you show in general.

3)Not knowing the exact location. Find out the exact location of the party before you leave, so you arrive on time. No last-minute scrambling to get directions or set up your GPS. “Fashionably late” isn’t fashionable.

4)Drinking too much alcohol. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol consumption is not a license for poor behavior. I don’t care if there IS an open bar, that’s not an excuse for drinking more than you should.

5)Talking business. Always keep conversations to small talk and not major business-related topics. There’s a time and place for everything.

6)Sticking with one or two people the whole time. Mix and mingle at all work and business parties. Don’t spend too much time with any one person. Parties are for socializing and meeting new people.

7)Pigging out at the buffet. Remember, it’s NOT about the food. So, when you eat at these holiday affairs, avoid overdoing it. And, watch your table manners!

8)Overstaying your welcome. You certainly don’t have to be the last person to leave. But worse yet, never put yourself in a position where you’re asked to leave.

9)Forgetting to send a thank-you note. Always send a thank-you note to the host or hosts. You will be remembered for the right reasons.

Now, the fun part is up to you!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Seven Strategies for Conversation/Small Talk Success

The Thanksgiving holiday is over – but now we have Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s on the horizon.

Typically, that means parties (professional and personal) – which, in turn, means more opportunities for creating conversations.

For some of us, it is an easy task -- we like small talk, meeting new people and socializing in general. But, for others it is a chore.

It doesn’t have to be …

What are some techniques to make mingling and conversation easy and enjoyable for all parties concerned?

Here’s my list of seven strategies:

1. Whenever possible, do your “homework.” Know who is coming, and a little bit about the people. What are their interests? Where do they work? What do they do in their free time?

2. Ask questions – not to be intrusive, but to find areas of mutual interest. Be interested in what they have to say.

3.Share something about yourself – not to brag, but again, something that the others may find interesting.

4. Be comfortable with silence. You don’t need to rush the conversation.

5. Be up to date with current events and best-selling books – they make great conversation starters.

6. Look for ways to help others. That may mean introducing them to other people at the event.

7. Know when to exit the conversation. Avoid monopolizing one person for the whole event.

If you follow these seven guidelines, you not only will have great conversations and build relationships, but, perhaps more importantly, a great time!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sharing Information On Business Resources

As we approach Thanksgiving and reflect on our business resources, I wanted to share two that I recently found and am thankful for …

Do you ever need to get some quick information, without searching thousands of sites on Google?

A quick way to do this is to hire a kgb agent.

For full disclosure, I am NOT on their payroll, nor do I get a “finder’s fee.” I just happen to be LinkedIn with Brett Saks -- VP, HR & Organizational Effectiveness for kgb USA -- and started exploring their website and services.

Check out their site -- it’s full of funny commercials, and cool ideas.

Moving on to another great resource …

If you’re a professional speaker who wants to hang with other professional speakers, the National Speakers Association (NSA) is the place for you!

The value of NSA membership relates to the education and member community. For full disclosure, I am on the Board of National Directors, but get no “kickback” for new recruits!

I just got back last night from NSA’s fall conference in Phoenix. My head is spinning with new ideas and people to use as resources. If you want to know more about NSA, check out

If you have any other business resources that you think I should know about, and would like to share with others, please drop me a message.

I am currently talking to two organizations now about entering into affinity relationships for their equipment and other resources that will help presenters.

Will keep you posted …

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Presentation Skills Primer: Slide Decks Support a Message, Not the Other Way Around

We can “Deck the Halls,” “Swab the deck,” and even “Deck someone” …. (though I wouldn’t endorse trying the last one!).

Obviously, the word “deck” can mean a lot of things.

But, nowhere does a deck equate to a presentation!

When I coach executives for presentation skills, typically they say, “The deck is being prepared.” I then ask, “What about the presentation?”

From my perspective as an executive speech coach and professional speaker for more years than I like to admit, an effective presentation needs to be crafted first BEFORE slides are created.

Then, and only then, if the visuals will support the message, should a slide “deck” be crafted, too.

Preparing slides has become so easy that it’s now commonplace for presenters to simply read their slides – which is never a formula for speaking success.

Show me one example of a presentation where the audience wanted more slides.

The speaker needs to be the most important visual element.


Through effective use of eye contact, facial expression, gestures and movements to captivate an audience -- plus having a good, descriptive story to tell. Then, you can add a visual to help paint a picture or make a point.

So, in the future, prepare your presentation -- then get all decked out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Doesn’t Matter What You’re “Selling” … Prep Before You Present Your Pitch

Professor Dan Brody (yes, he is a relative!) is teaching an entrepreneurial course at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering.

He had a few entrepreneurs speak as guest lecturers, and he asked me to do the same. My topic was “10 Reasons Presentations Fail & How to Avoid Them.”

You might wonder – why is information regarding presentation skills critical in a class of would be engineering entrepreneurs?

In fact, in my first career, as a college professor of presentation skills and interpersonal communication skills, students often told me, “I don’t need to speak – I am going to be an engineer, accountant, researcher, architect …” – you name it, they said it.


These students entered the job market, and soon realized that no matter how good their ideas were, they needed to be able to sell themselves along with these bright ideas.

This recent group of talented students at UVA are giving group presentations as part of a contest. The winner will get some seed money to actually start building the business that they propose.

In case you are wondering what my top 10 list is, go to my website to read more about “Why Every Professional Needs to Master Presentation Skills” -- to learn why presentations fail and more, and also take the free quiz there to test your presentation skills knowledge.

On the surface, when it comes to presentation skills, things seem to be very basic. However, it is the little things that make the biggest difference.

Here’s a recent example that proves how true this is …

I was flying home last week from Tampa. My seat partner was the ex-superintendant of the Philadelphia School District. She has since spent time teaching and leading at Harvard and now at the University of Pennsylvania: She is on the board of the Philadelphia Art Museum. She told me about the wonderful presentation delivered by the architects who won the Barnes Museum contract.

What made this presentation so good?

The architects told a good story, enjoyed working together, used simple visuals and believed in the project.

How simple is that!?!

Of course, simple isn’t always easy to implement. That is where coaching/training can help.

Do you, or members of your team, need help in preparing your pitch?

If so, you know where to get help!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don’t Let the Digital World Divide: Face-to-Face Communication Still Critical

I just got back from a meeting in Tampa. Following the meeting, a group of us went to the hotel bar to continue the conversation.

Guess what happened instead?

Everyone sat “playing with” their iPhones and BlackBerrys! What little conversation there was revolved around the latest apps.

Somehow, with the need to communicate quicker, and more easily, we seem to have lost the art of the conversation.

You know … actually talking to people.

When I think of the time it takes to post a tweet on Twitter, send an e-mail, or to update a Facebook page, I also think about how many people we could have actually spoken to, if we just picked up the phone.

What’s happening in our workplace when colleagues who work next to each other end up texting instead of getting up to chat face to face?

What does that say about interpersonal communications? Is this really a way to build a relationship?

Believe me, I am a proponent of using the latest social networks -- check me out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Naymz – but NEVER in lieu of meeting people for coffee, or phoning someone and having a real conversation.

Business particularly is all about the connections you make – and these are much more effective when done face to face.

Reading words on a screen, even with a video and/or audio element added, is and never will be the same as having a real dialogue in person.

Many times there are subtle nuances to communication and body language that “speak” far greater than actual words. How does this non-spoken “conversation” get conveyed online?

In the search to expand our networks, I truly believe that something is being lost.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Modern-Day Networking: “Dripping” Can Solidify Relationships

Are you dripping?

Think of “dripping” as a way to keep in touch with clients and colleagues – a little bit at a time, repeatedly.

In the course of a day, many of us might meet one or several people who we want to build a relationship with – one that is mutually beneficial, win/win, and helping others.

Yet, just a meeting, whether chance or purposefully planned, isn’t enough.

That’s where the dripping starts.

Immediately after meeting someone that you want to foster a relationship with, send something to the person – an e-mail, a text, a Tweet, a note, an article.

Then, touch base again with a call or even offer to do lunch. Look for ways to help the other person. Find commonality.

As the relationship starts to build, you continue to “drip.” Your contact might be once a month, or once every other month.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a fallacy! When it comes to business networking and building relationships, it’s more like, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Dripping keeps you in the mind’s eye of the other person, since you touch base on a frequent basis.

Building relationships is more important, and easier to do, than ever before.

So, just keep on dripping!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Death By PowerPoint: Don’t Become Another Speaking Statistic

We’ve all heard the expression “death by PowerPoint.”

People acknowledge it, laugh about it, and hate it when in an audience, but, yet …. Many continue to be guilty of doing it themselves!

How can presenters avoid this?

Here are my 10 tips for avoiding Death by PowerPoint:

1) Write your presentation first, then look to see where you can add PowerPoint to reinforce the message. Keep in mind, a slide deck isn’t a presentation.

2) Add graphics, rather than bullet points, wherever possible. When words are necessary, it’s OK to use them, but avoid paragraphs.

3) Limit the content on the slides. If your audience needs the slides in advance, or as a take-home learning tool, then give them a file with more detail -- but for the actual presentation, pare down the content.

4) Avoid too many “bells and whistles” (like different font colors/sizes, charts, etc.). The focus needs to on the information, not the slide.

5) Get comfortable with the “B” key. While in PowerPoint mode, hit the “B” key on your computer. The screen will turn black or go blank. I like to think that the B stands for BRODY. Occasionally, go blank, so you change up what you’re doing – move around more and facilitate discussion.

6) Create a list of all slides – have one sheet of paper with the slide number and title of each slide. This allows you to cut slides if time is an issue, or to jump back and forth on the slide deck. Do this by hitting the “slide number” then hit “enter.” So, assume you are on slide 10, and you want to go back to slide 3. Hit “3’ and then “enter.”

7) Practice using the slides so that you are comfortable with timing and flow.

8) Arrive early and position yourself so that the screen is to your (speaker’s) left. People read from left to right. Make it easy for the audience.

9) Open and close with a blank screen to create and keep rapport with the audience.

10) Keep in mind – less is more. Trust me ... rarely, if ever, have audience members said, “Oh good, another slide.”

Always remember, be prepared to speak without any slides all in case of a technical glitch.

The best speakers can deliver their messages with power, impact and persuasion, without any slides at all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Selling Stool: 3 Key Elements to Sales Presentations

Product knowledge and selling skills are only two legs of the stool when it comes to successful sales presentations.

The third key is the ability to communicate your ideas effectively, and at the same time read the messages that your audience (buyer) is sending in response.

In other words, you need to master the art of walking and chewing gum at the same time!

The most effective salespeople pay attention to the signals that are being sent – theirs and others.

These winning sales professionals don’t go onto autopilot with their prepared pitch.

So, what are some things to watch for?

Positive cues from the person or people to whom you are presenting:

Direct eye contact
Open body language
Forward lean
Upward turn on the corners of their mouth

Here are some negative signals to watch carefully for:

Tension in the eyebrows
Closed off posture
Limited eye contact
Pursed lips

You can’t assume that people are hostile to your ideas just because they have their arms crossed. After all, they may just be cold.

However, if their arms are crossed, look for other signals as well that might indicate hostility, disagreement or closed thinking.

Typically, in a selling situation, the “buyer” says so much without even saying a word.

The question is, are you so busy talking, that you aren’t listening to what is -- and isn’t -- being said?

It may seem trite, but there is a reason we have two ears!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bottom-Line Speaking for Presentation Skills Success

Give people conclusions they can walk out the door with, not a lot of details.

This is what Jack Welch used to say, when he headed up General Electric.

This is also what I say when I coach people about presentation skills.

You can’t be too specific when sharing information.

Most decision makers don’t have a lot of time to wade through data. They are paying others to get the data, and just want to be told your recommendation or their call to action.

Often, the tendency when speaking is to get bogged down in the technicalities, which most people don’t understand (or even care about!).

You will be perceived as a leader if you keep a presentation at the 100,000-foot level – then be able to answer questions that go beneath that.

Answer these three questions:

So what?
Now what?

Truly effective speakers always keep their focus on the last two.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

E-mail: A Critical Communication Tool if Used Correctly

Over the weekend, I had some repairs that had to be done at home. I pulled out the trusty toolbox, and as I moved from project to project, I had to think about which tool would be most effective.

Midway through my project, I had an epiphany: How similar is what I’m doing at home to what happens at work – picking the right tool for the right activity?

Let’s say I have feedback to give a colleague or direct report. Should I see him or her, if possible; or is it OK to e-mail the person? If I have data to report, should I call the person, put it in writing, or send a quick e-mail?

If I want to thank someone for something he or she did to help me -- a much more personal type of communication – do I send a handwritten note or an e-mail?

Just because we have incredible communication tools – like e-mail – doesn’t mean we always should use them … or possibly abuse them.

E-mail shouldn’t be used for sending long messages, discussing confidential information, or distributing negative news, or sending complicated policy changes.

E-mail also shouldn’t be used in lieu of having face-to-face time.

Even if you do choose the right tool, you need to use it properly. Over the weekend, my husband was slicing potatoes using a mandolin -- a great kitchen tool.

Unfortunately, he didn’t anchor it properly, and ended up slicing his finger. Not good for a dentist!

The same is true with e-mail. It is so easy to use, that we frequently throw caution to the wind when using it.

Be sure to pay attention to both the tone and accuracy of all e-mail messages. You don’t want to appear to be abrupt or sloppy.

The cost of e-mail mistakes, abuse, and misuse, can be great.

So, just think of e-mail as one tool in your communication toolbox, and use it carefully and selectively.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Listening is More Than Hearing

So many people like to talk.

I sure do.

In fact, I do it all the time.

On the other hand, so few like to actually listen -- I will admit I am occasionally challenged to really listen or listen well.

Statistically speaking, we spend more time listening in a day than speaking, yet we don’t often do it well (just ask your family!).

Usually, it’s not on anyone’s top to-do list for training.

But, that may be changing. In the last few months we have seen a steady increase in clients asking for listening skills training.

Perhaps there were relationships, opportunities, and revenues that were lost as the result of poor listening. Maybe at the root of our relationship problems this fundamental communication skill is missing.

Last week, I got to deliver a listening workshop -- the first I personally had delivered in years.

The focus of the program was a combination of activities, skills and exercises to practice -- along with an online assessment, which profiles the individual participant’s preferred (or natural) listening style.

The district and regional sales managers in my session had so many “aha” moments that they couldn’t wait to get back and adjust their style at work -- as well as at home.

Since I also took the assessment, I, too, had some major insights. For example, at work I tend to listen purposefully -- in a very task-oriented way -- and pay less attention to the empathy factor and fail to listen for enjoyment.

It does make sense, however, that my staff needs as much empathy and appreciation as I give my clients and friends. I am committed to improving my listening with my team. You can e-mail them and see if they have noticed a difference!

So, do I think effective listening be taught?

Yes I do!

It isn’t complicated, but it does require a commitment to use more than just our ears.

If you want to see what is in our listening skills program, click here for more details.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Accountability: 5 Keys to Manage Success

Last week, I presented a program in Arizona called “Accountability: 5 Keys to Manage Success (Yours & Others).”

The audience was leadership and management professionals from a luxury, private country club.

This is a different audience than the corporate types who I typically work with. That being said, the issues are always the same.

There are people who need an attitude adjustment (one of the topics covered).

There are organizations that don’t do regular performance appraisals/discussions, which creates a disconnect with employees -- and often less than stellar results.

Behaviors impact all relationships, and your reputation.

So often, it is the smallest behavior gaffes that create problems within a team, company, or with customers.

And, in this current climate of financial uncertainty, the willingness to demonstrate courage is more critical than ever.

Finally, the willingness to put things into perspective may change how you look at life and work.

If you have thoughts on any of these five “keys” for managing your success and others – let me know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Means Back to School Time – But, It’s Not Just for Kids

It’s back to school time.

Doesn’t the Labor Day holiday always remind you of that?

Of course, if you have children, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief.

But, what does this time of year mean for all of us in business?

1) Four months to make our 2009 goals.

2) Planning and budgeting for 2010.

For most businesses, 2009 has been a tough year.

Many professionals have dealt with change, the unknown, and more responsibilities as their colleagues have been laid off.

What can get lost in times of workplace chaos and change?

The ongoing importance of professional and personal development.

This really is the best time to go “back to school.” Your own development cannot take a back seat.

After all, you don’t want to be left behind at the end of the year – or “expelled!”

I have no idea what the new economy will look like.

But, I do know, however, that winners don’t wait.

What do you need to do for yourself and your staff these next four months?

Fortunately, we at BRODY are still booking 2009 programs for our enlightened clients -- the ones that realize they must still provide skills training for their employees, so they will continue to excel.

If you want to do something for yourself (or your team), consider registering for our BRODY BOOST Camps being offered in San Francisco on September 24, and again in Philadelphia on October 8th.

School is never truly over!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are All Presentations Created Equal?

I just facilitated a customized presentation skills program for regional sales managers of a very large medical device company.

Their objectives were to understand the differences and similarities between these types of presentations:

 management vs. leadership
 formal vs. informal
 informative vs. persuasive
 face to face vs. phone, web, etc.

The irony -- although they are different, the bottom line is the same.

All types of presentations have two things in common:

1) A message to structure and develop to achieve a result

2) Delivery that engages the audience members and accomplishes the goal

Is it possible to give presentations that are a combination of management and leadership, informative and persuasive?


It comes down to what you want that audience walking away knowing, doing and feeling.

Should you prepare less because it’s informal?

Not really.

It’s always respectful to your audience (be it one or many) to be clear about your objectives and to deliver the message with clarity and enthusiasm.

In future blogs, I’ll get more specific about the differences and similarities between management and leadership presentations, and ways to be effective while presenting.

If you want to bring this custom “Speaking to Lead” program to your team, let us know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Visual Aids 101: Help, Not Hinder Your Next Presentation

Are you suffering from “death by PowerPoint?”

Many people in corporate America are.

You know the symptoms … yawning participants during your slide shows or distant looks from half of the audience who are staring at your screen like zombies.

Let’s be real. Personally, I've never heard, “Oh good – another slide!” I’m sure you would agree.

So, where is the problem?

I believe that most presenters create their slides and think they have a presentation.


What they should be doing is writing the presentation, and then determining where a slide would add value, impact and interest.

When audience members need specific information to study, and to share with others, give them the complicated details in advance, or at the end of the presentation. Then, simplify when presenting.

What are some guidelines?

•Use pictures (personal photographs or high-end, online stock images) whenever possible – as long as they reinforce the message.

•Use charts and graphs to help explain trends, statistics, or any other numbers.

•Limit the bullet points.

•Use the “B” key to blank out the screen. It pulls the attention back to the speaker.

•Start and end with no slide, so you can make the personal connection with the audience.

Slides are tools – and shouldn’t be used as a crutch. Remember, they are visual aids – not presentations.

Your audience will thank you for not having them suffer a tedious “death by PowerPoint.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Executive Presentation Skills: Inform, Inspire & Persuade

I recently did a blog on the topic of executive presentations.

Exactly what separates an executive presentation from any other?

Not much.

Perhaps it’s just the title of the person presenting the material – or, speaking at the board level.

After all, every presentation has a purpose. The goal as a speaker is to determine what the purpose is.

As an executive, I may want to …

•Inform my organization about what is going on within the organization (to inform)
•Inspire trust and loyalty in my employees
•Encourage people to buy into a plan or product purchase

Over all, it’s all about informing, inspiring and persuading.

Aristotle described the principles of Logos/Ethos/Pathos.

Logos translates into logic. Every great speaker needs to be easy to follow (logical), and filled with evidence and reason. That alone can inform an audience.

To move people as well, to truly inspire them, requires the added use of Pathos. Emotional appeals, stories, and examples which hit the heart, will do that.

Then, there is the credibility factor of the presenter (Ethos). Even if an executive delivers an excellent presentation, if the audience doesn’t trust the person – the presentation will fall on deaf ears.

Position alone isn’t enough to inspire.

An executive who is believable, trustworthy, and admirable, will have a much easier time of giving an inspirational presentation.

So, being an executive speaker really just boils down to 3 things:

1)Being an executive.
2)Having a well-organized message that is relevant, inspirational and believable.
3)Delivering the message in an attentive manner -- showing passion, enthusiasm and credibility.

Why make things more difficult than they have to be?

If you need help turning a lackluster presentation into a memorable, executive-level experience, sign up for my 1-hour webinar on September 14 (12:30-1:30 pm EST): “How to Present Your Ideas Persuasively to Better Influence Others at Work.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Presentation Skills Pointer: Fresh Delivery Requires Preparation & Practice

I am often asked if I give the same presentation each time I present.

Although there might be a benefit to do so regarding saving time, my answer is, “No.”

Every audience I face is different, and I need to adjust my message accordingly. The material also needs to be fresh – not only updated from a current events’ perspective, but also fresh in my mind.

I have seen too many speakers who were on “auto pilot.” They sounded bored with their own message. So, how would that translate to the audience?

My method of practice is always to say the presentation out loud -- not in my head where I am eloquent. This helps me with timing, and pacing, not to mention anchoring the content in my head.

The irony is, the longer the presentation, the less time it takes to prepare.

I find short presentations – 20 minutes and under – to be the hardest.

Anyone can ramble.

To make a point hit home in a limited amount of time -- delivering it with passion and authority – that is an art.

What speaking masterpieces have you worked on lately?

For free articles, tips & techniques on presentation skills, visit the new BRODY site.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Persuasive Speaking Webinar: Notch Up Your Presentation Skills

I’m back from the National Speakers Association (NSA) conference in Arizona, and also from a biotech client program in California; the latter of which saw me delivering a custom session on effective communication.

As I watched the NSA members present their keynotes and workshops, and during my facilitated group discussion at the client program, I was again struck by the power of effective presentation skills and the power of persuasive speaking.

Yes, I’ve been teaching this topic for more than 25 years now, but the basic principle is still the same: Professionals who master the art of persuasive speaking will get others to take action, change direction, commit and buy.

If you don’t speak like a pro, and convince your audience members of your message, they will consider your session a colossal waste of time.

Are you one of the thousands of people who’d rather die than deliver a speech? Do you need help to improve your persuasive speaking skills?

You’re in luck. In addition to face-to-face presentation skills training and coaching, BRODY now offers webinars.

I’m kicking off the whole series with “How to Present Your Ideas Persuasively to Better Influence Others at Work,” on September
14, from 12:30-1:30 pm EST.

If you attend this webinar, you’ll discover strategies for working with different audience reactions. It’s great for anyone in a relationship management role – whether speaking to clients, colleagues, direct reports – or a combination of all three!

Visit here, for more details on this webinar, and to sign up.

Or, if you share your worst presentation skills nightmare on my blog, and provide a valid e-mail address – or call me at 215-886-1688, I will take 10% off your webinar registration price. This offer expires August 3rd.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Initial Report from NSA Convention: Relationships Rule!

I have been at the National Speakers Association (NSA) National Convention in Arizona, since July 16, and it ends today.

Whether it’s been during a board meeting (I’m a National Board Director), a keynote, a breakout session, or in the hallways, the biggest takeaway for me so far has been a reminder of the power of relationships.

You see, my goal when it comes to meetings like these is to always come back to my office with one to three things that I can immediately implement which will change my business.

This time at the NSA Convention, as good as the content has been, it can’t begin to compare with the new friends I’ve made -- and the old ones that I’ve reconnected with … relationships.

One specific highlight of this past week has been having dinner with Keith Ferrazzi, author of the best-selling books Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back. Whether in private conversation or as a dynamic speaker, his theme is always about relationships.

What are you doing to develop and nurture your relationships?

Monday, July 13, 2009

New BRODY Professional Site Up and Running, Check It Out!

Good things are worth waiting for!

Those of you who have worked with web designers know how frustrating the process can be. Granted, we live in an environment of instant gratification, and I wanted it done at least three months ago!

But, at last, it is “finished” – the new and improved home for my company, BRODY Professional Development --

I say “finished,” because there are still some modifications being made, including shopping cart “tweaks” -- and then working specifically on updating the Marjorie Brody part of the site, so it coordinates with the new design of the BRODY Professional Development pages.

That being said, for those of you who want to download some “free information” – invaluable tips and articles – please check out the new site. Again,

On an unrelated note, this week, I head to Scottsdale, Arizona -- you may be asking, “Why on Earth would anyone go to Scottsdale in the middle of July?” My answer: To attend the board meeting and annual conference of National Speakers Association.

I always learn something by attending this annual event – and next week, I’ll blog about some of these learnings, so you, too, can benefit!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

2009 Part One: Lessons Learned

It’s hard to believe that half of the year is over – not exactly a stellar year for most of us!

I have learned quite a few things as a business owner (hard lessons learned) these past 6+ months:

•I should always look to cut expenses, even when times are good.

•I should reward creativity and innovation.

•I should look to do more with less.

•I should expect and appreciate the willingness of my staff to be flexible.

•I should recognize how my moods impact our employees, and those around me.

•It’s not what we make, it’s what we keep that counts.

I’ve also learned a few things on a personal level:

•“Shopping” in my closet isn’t that bad.

•Cooking can replace take-out.

•Time with friends doesn’t have to be expensive.

•Staying in shape mentally and physically is my choice, and under my control.

•I need to appreciate and be grateful for all of what I can give to others.

Let’s hope that the economy picks up during the last half of 2009!

Even when this happens (notice I said “when” and not “if”), however, I don’t want to lose site of these lessons learned.

As always, feel free to share your lessons learned/best practices.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New BRODY Web Site Coming Soon, Really!

One more week. One more week. One more week.

I am so tired of hearing “one more week!”

What am I referring to? My new and improved corporate web site going “live.”

The irony is that from my perspective, this is an ongoing complaint. I think web designers (or, maybe it’s just creative types in general) sometimes look for ways to hold up the process.

I say that because a lot of industry colleagues have the same complaint – of web site redesign projects often taking more time than initially estimated, or unforeseen developments that further increase the time spent.

I know they say “Good things come to those who wait.”

But, whatever happened to managing client expectations? Or being held accountable to deadlines?

With that said, I have drawn my own line in the sand. The redesigned BRODY Professional Development web site --- -- will be live, on or before July 10.

Of course, there will be still be a new shopping cart to fine tune, my personal speaking web site to update, and other “tweeks” over time.

My expectation (silly woman!) is that it will all be done by the end of the summer. Since it’s been a year in coming, it had better be good! (Of course, I’m biased, but sneak peaks tell me that this is the case!).

Let me know what you think. On July 13, visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Make Your Own Sunshine

It’s Monday, and it’s not raining.

In fact, we are having sunshine. It’s amazing what that does for one’s disposition!

The question is – how do you create “sunshine” at work, even when the “weather” is gloomy?

Here's what works for me:

•A good cup of coffee

•Selling our programs and services

•Helping someone improve themselves – a client or colleague

•Sending a thank-you, or recognition note, to someone who has helped me

•Pictures (or phone calls) from my husband, grandsons, daughters, mother

•Reaching a goal or completing a project

•Cleaning up my desk

•Connecting with a hard-to-connect-with client

•A team meeting, when good ideas surface

•Doing everything on my “to-do” list for the day

I would love to hear what brings “sunshine” into your work environment.

Have a sunny day! :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Power of Video: Seeing Yourself on Tape Can Lead to Self-Improvement

I have often been asked:

•How do you deal with big egos in a presentation skills program?

•How do ensure that the people you coach connect the dots?

•How do you measure improvement when training/coaching on presentation skills?

My answer to all three questions is videotape!

Really, the only way to get a real assessment of how others see you as a presenter is to look at yourself. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is necessary.

I’m not saying that I like to see myself on video, but, again, it is necessary.

What I have learned by being videotaped:

•I don’t smile as much as I think I do.
•I favor one side of the room.
•I make funny faces.
•My posture needs to be improved.
•And, the list goes on …

I know that sports professionals get videotaped, professional actors are taped, so why shouldn’t everyone who presents (to large and small groups) get taped as well?

It’s a great way to identify strengths and to determine what needs to be improved.

At BRODY, our presentation skills training and coaching almost always involves taping.

At my recent BRODY BOOST Camp, I hired a videographer (Rob Kates, to update my speaking demo and add some new footage.

What my recent videotaping experience really did for me was give me a list of the areas that I still need to work on!

That’s right, even we Hall of Fame speakers need to be open for self-improvement.

I truly believe in my own mantra that: “If you’re not green and growing, you’re ripe and rotting.”

What do you need to improve?

Remember – the best keep looking for ways to get better.

So, smile for that video camera!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Increasing My Digital “Fingerprint” Via Social Networks/Media

How the world has changed!

I have been part of a mastermind group of speakers for the past 12 ½ years – Master Speakers International (MSI).

Our goal at our meetings (three times a year) is to share ideas, best practices, and resources to expand our speaking businesses.

One of our members credits the group with $5 million worth of business – due to two ideas he got during meetings!

At our meeting yesterday in Minneapolis, the entire conversation was about webinars, teleseminars, and social networking sites.

A few years ago, we would have said that nothing beats the live, in-person presentation. I still feel that way.

However, as speakers, we always have to learn to be more flexible --and open minded – and look for alternative ways to deliver our content.

There is also much to learn when it comes to the best use of social media.

Having said that, along with this blog and my web site proper (insert links), you can check me out on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Will this increased cyber presence generate business? I have no idea, at least not yet -- but I can’t afford not to jump on board and Tweet away and post updates!

I welcome your thoughts.

By the way, if you want to attend my free webinar on communication skills for Copper Conferencing on June 16th, take this link to register.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Don’t Worry Be Happy

You know the expression, “You teach what you need to learn.”?

Well, by nature, I am a positive person – always looking for the good in everybody and every situation … predicting a positive outcome.

But, lately it’s gotten harder. A combination of business matters (due to the economy) and family healthy issues have been weighing heavily on me like a ton of bricks.

I was walking around like Charlie Brown, with the proverbial gray cloud over his head.

The reality is – what is happening is going to happen, regardless of my attitude.

I had a choice: be miserable, or go back to optimism.

Over the weekend, I decided to change my negative attitude of late, beginning with my last journal entry. I started to list all the good things that are happening right now. I wrote what I am grateful for. I listed positive outcomes.

You might wonder … did it work?


Since then, I haven’t dwelled on the negatives, I haven’t discussed the negatives, and I have been more cheery at work.

My bet is that it will get easier each day to honor my personal commitment to stay positive.

And, in time, so, too, will the different situations I encounter get better.

We all need to remember, that you get what you give out in life – the “reap what you sow” mentality.

If you exude negativity and pessimism, after awhile, those around you will feel and act the same.

So, today, I made the choice. I decided to be positive. Like the song says, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” :)

How about you? Will you join me on this positive journey?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Risk Taking Leads to Reward

My Temple University School of Communications & Theater commencement speech was two weeks ago, but the message is still relevant – one I hope the graduates took to heart.

It applies to all of us. That is – you need to believe in yourself, and have the courage to take calculated risks.

Do you remember when you were an elementary school student playing on the jungle gym? In order to get across the bars, you had to be willing to let go of one hand, and place it on the next rung. Drop a hand, grab, drop a hand, grab.

If you aren’t willing to let go -- of old thinking, old behaviors, old habits, you will continually be stuck.

I was asked this question when I was deciding whether to take a risk and launch my own business -- giving up a tenured teaching position at a college -- “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Notice – the word “could” not “would.”

Don’t always think in negative terms. The chances that the worst could happen if you do take a risk are small.

The second question to ask yourself is, “And, then what?”

There will always be a “then what?” What will you do if the risk doesn’t pan out the way you wanted it to?

What are the risks you would like to take?

I encourage you to go for them!

Keep in mind what Thomas Edison said, “If we all did what we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.”

By the way, here are the four key ideas that I gave the Temple graduates:

1)Play to your strengths and passion for greater success

2)Market yourself continually and professionally

3)Be open to all possibilities

4)Take calculated risks

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recent Graduates -- Or Any Professional -- Be Open to All Possibilities

Good news. By all accounts and feedback, my Temple commencement address went well.

Soon it can be seen on YouTube and on our web site.

The audience got involved, and I had fun.

If you haven’t been following my blog, last week I was the keynote graduation speaker for the School of Communications & Theater at Temple University. There were 675 graduates, and another 2,000 plus (family, friends, faculty, etc) in attendance.

I must admit, I was stressed – but well-prepared!

The first two points I covered (which I wrote about in my last two weekly blog posts) were:

1)Play to your strengths and passion for greater success

2)Market yourself continually and professionally

The third point is: Be open to all possibilities.

The world is different now than when these graduates entered college, and it will continue to change.

The class of 2009 can’t afford to think in silos. This fresh crop of college graduates needs to be open-minded as to where they can apply their talents and skills.

If things don’t exist, or graduates have a tough time finding such “perfect” opportunities, they need to look for new ways to create them.

Where would the talents of a broadcast major fit? What nontraditional “platforms” can a theater major perform on?

Flexibility and creativity are key for new graduates. Continuing their education – whether formal or informal – will be essential.

The challenge for graduates is to focus on the next steps of learning.

My mantra is, “If you aren’t green and growing, you are ripe and rotting.”

Although my presentation was to recent college graduates, this message is valuable for all business professionals.

Next week, I’ll share my fourth strategy for new graduates. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Temple Commencement Address Part II: Sell Yourself & The Value You Bring

Last week, I wrote about my upcoming Temple University speech during graduation ceremonies.

The commencement from the School of Communications & Theater is this Thursday, May 14th.

I’ve spent many hours writing and practicing my presentation.

The first point I described last week (and will deliver) was about the importance of finding/identifying both your passion and your talents.

The second key idea that I’ll share with graduates is the importance of selling yourself and the value you bring.

When selling, not only do you need to use multiple channels, but also do it in a positive way – one that projects an image of someone who is polished and professional, not that of a college undergrad.

What are these channels? I break them down into two categories:

New Age -- Using Modern Technologies

•Check, and any other job web sites.

•Create multiple resumes and save them as nonmodifiable PDFs or JPEGs with appropriate file names on your computer. These resumes will each focus on different, specific traits/qualifications, depending on the job/industry you are targeting. If you code them right, you can send the right one as an e-mail attachment at the drop of a hat. Remember that all of these resumes, and their accompanying cover letters, need to be proofread by someone else. You’re too close to them.

•Develop a web site which highlights your capabilities.

•Create a YouTube account, and upload a video resume

•Create a blog, or blog on others' blogs.

•Tweet on Twitter

•Use other social networking sites like LinkedIn, Myspace and Facebook.

Again, remember to clean up your act. Recruiters are using these tools, and checking you out and your digital “footprint”.

Ask yourself what virtual impressions are you creating and making with these businesspeople/potential employers?

Old-Fashioned Techniques

•Talk to people, don’t just text or e-mail them.

•Expand your real life network. It is ultimately people who hire other people.

Go to your friends’ parents and parents’ friends. Let others know what you want and what you are capable of.

Spend less time texting your friends and listening to music. Everywhere you go, make it a point to meet people -- a variety of people.

College students and business professionals need to be active in their community. Join trade groups and clubs. Consider volunteering, too. Helping others also provides great dividends.

You can’t wait to be discovered – it is up to each graduate (or professional) to sell him/herself. Be proactive, not reactive.

Next week, I will write about the third part of my commencement address – looking for, and creating, specific opportunities.

Wish me well this Thursday!

Monday, May 4, 2009

It’s Graduation Time, Lessons Learned & To Share

Have you ever given a graduation speech?

It’s always been a goal of mine, and this year, I received a call from the Dean of Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater – one of the largest colleges within Temple University – asking me to be their 2009 commencement speaker.

What an honor! What a responsibility!

So, on a daily basis since that call, I have been thinking/ writing/talking out loud, putting my thoughts together.

Ultimately, on graduation day, May 14th, I want it to be inspirational, realistic and informative.

That said,I have come up with four learning points that I will share with graduates, and in my blog over the next few weeks.

My learning point for this week is this:

As difficult as the job market is, no one is a victim. It is critical to be honest with yourself and assess both your talent and your passion.

When the two are combined, work isn’t work. It is a gift.

How do you assess that?

Take a look at yourself when you are the happiest. What are you doing? The flip side is to look at what makes you miserable and drains you.

I was a speech communications major as an undergraduate. My parents worried about job opportunities in the field after I graduated (yes, even in the dark ages, there were job issues!). They encouraged me to switch into speech pathology and therapy.

The fact that I had no passion, interest, or talent for this field, seemed to secondary to getting a job.

I held my ground, and am so glad that I did.

Once I realized (at age 21) that my purpose was, and still is, to communicate and help others to be more effective, the rest was looking for opportunities where I could make that happen.

For me, career #1 was working in a college, teaching communication and presentation skills, so students would be better equipped no matter what they pursued.

All these years later, I still believe that to be happy, you need to figure out your purpose and your passion.

What is yours?

Monday, April 27, 2009

My “Stimulus Package” Part Two: Focusing on Business

Last week, I talked about creating my own personal “Stimulus Package.”

For this week’s blog, I’ve written about my business “stimulus” plans.

Here are just a few of the things are we are doing to stay afloat, without help from the government stimulus package:

•Making calls to current clients to see how we can help. The “help” is often for free, and can involve consulting and coaching.

•Sending “flash” e-mails. The creative marketing messages that we send to current clients keep BRODY top of mind.

•Making better use of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Maximizing the use of these FREE accounts builds connections that may well lead to business.

•Speaking at industry events. I use my evaluation forms, where I ask for good contacts within participants’ companies, to mine new leads.

•Sending mailings to current clients that are considered advocates. Past efforts have included coupons on our BRODY BOOST Camp, bookmarks and First Aid kits.

•Sending gratis copies of my books to senior management within our targeted corporate market. Not only have I made some great executive-level connections, I have introduced my company’s products and services in a not overtly “salesy” way.

•Using our Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification. This is a great way to submit BRODY to corporations who have formal supplier diversity initiatives, and gain a foothold in new and emerging markets.

What are YOU doing to stimulate your business?

Feel free to share some best practices.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Personal “Stimulus” Plan

Our government is still busy with its Stimulus Package.

I certainly hope it kick starts the economy!

As a small business owner, I am seeing no direct result.

Hence, I have decided to create my own “stimulus package.”

The goal is to stimulate myself to be even more proactive and productive, enthusiastic, and more in charge of my own future.

You might ask, “Marjorie, just how are you doing that?”

Let me tell you ….

This week’s blog will focus on my personal perspective, while next week, I’ll outline my business plan.

Here are my personal “stimulus” goals:

•Exercise daily: Just by doing this, I feel better. Feeling better is stimulating!

•Eat properly: Again, it’s treating my body well. So, I feel better and I have more energy.

•Drink my gin and tonic and eat my dark chocolate in moderation. After all, deprivation doesn’t solve problems, just creates them!

•Spend time with family. For example, I took one grandson (4 years old) to a theatre last week. I said, “I love our theater dates. Do you think when you are older, you will still want to go to the theater with Nana?” His response: “You may be dead then.” That sure put things into perspective!

•Never miss “24.” As though I don’t have enough tension in my life! Jack always wins, maybe I will, too!

•Go to the movies, read a book, see friends. Really, making time for fun and escape stimulates the brain.

•Indulge in personal treatments. As occasional massage, mani and pedicure, and hair cut are no longer luxuries – they keep me feeling and looking better.

•Find humor in the absurd. And, sometimes, that is looking at the stimulus package and getting a good laugh!

Feel free to share your own personal “stimulus activities” to keep going in these trying times. If you do, and provide an e-mail address, I'll send you a PDF copy my E-book 21st Century Pocket Guide to Proper Business Protocol.

Next week, I’ll talk about the ways we are stimulating our business.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Design a Program That Creates Interaction

This past weekend, a BRODY Professional Development team was in Texas, facilitating a “Physician Speaker Training” program.

During the morning session, what struck me the most was how engaged the physicians were with a simple creative design.

The room was arranged in circles, allowing the doctors to have discussions. The presenters were very interactive and facilitative, and funny.

The slides were easy to read, but didn’t drive the presentations.

The MC, Amy Glass from BRODY Professional Development, moved the program along with grace and humor.

In the afternoon, the large group was then broken into 9 smaller groups, each led by a BRODY facilitator – including me.

Our goal was to teach the smaller groups the steps to prepare, when given a slide deck to present.

We then used the client slides and had the participants (physicians) practice handling difficult audience member questions.

I realized how easy it would be to incorporate this design into corporate presentations and any type of team meeting.

If you want to know how to do it, get back to me:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Seats Open for BRODY BOOST Camp – Because, Professionalism is Even More Critical

Four day countdown to the next BRODY Professional Development BOOST Camp …

Self-development is even more critical than ever before.

If you are still employed, you need to present yourself and your ideas in a clear/concise/courageous manner.

If you aren’t employed, you again need to sell yourself and your ideas in a clear/concise/courageous manner – to get a new job.

Contrary to what the news media would like you to think, companies are still operating – and, in many fields, people are getting hired.

As I’ve said before, if you’re unemployed, getting depressed and giving up isn’t an option.

Or, if you fear that you will be in the next round of layoffs, don’t adopt a “there’s nothing I can do” attitude.

What do you need to do to boost your own presence and professionalism? Join me on April 2nd and you’ll find out!

We have a few more seats still open at our open-enrollment career development workshop -- BRODY BOOST Camp.

Click here to learn more and register today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Present Like a Pro: It's All About the Audience

Last week, I did a webinar on presentation skills.

One question I was asked at the end was, “What is the number one mistake that people make when it comes to giving presentations?

My answer? “Not knowing the audience.”

Think about it...

As a speaker, your information may be excellent, but if it doesn’t relate to the audience, what’s the point?

If the vocabulary, acronyms and jargon are correct, but the audience doesn’t understand them, what’s the point?

If your audience members like to learn by listening, but you use lots of PowerPoint slides, what’s the point?

Preparing a presentation should be all about the audience.

Instead, most presenters see things from their own lens.

Here are some critical factors to consider about your audience members, the next time you prepare a presentation:

•What is their demographic? After all, the examples you use must be understood by them.

•What is their attitude toward your topic and you?

•What experiences do they have relating to your topic?

•How do they like to learn?

•What are their hot buttons?

•How do they make decisions?

•Who are the decision-makers, and who are the influencers?

There are three times to get to know an audience.

The first is when you start your preparation; do your research.

The second is to arrive early, ask questions, and observe what is happening around you.

Finally, you can learn about an audience during the presentation itself. If the audience seems perplexed, is hostile or falling asleep, change what you’re doing. Do a quick reality check and shift gears.

There isn’t one speaker or speaking style that works with all audiences.

But, as a presenter, you can flex your style and your content.

Keep in mind the name of my popular book Speaking is an Audience-Centered Sport.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Message to President Obama & His Support Team: RE Communicating & Selling Ideas

I’ve been listening to members of the Obama administration present their ideas.

They are smart people. Their ideas are well thought out (even though many of you reading this may not agree with the philosophies and/or solutions that they have crafted).

But, many of these administration members fail to sell their ideas.

Part of the problem is that they need to see themselves as salespeople, and they don’t.

But, they are – they are selling their credibility, experience, ideas, and themselves.

Subsequently, some of them fall flat.

Ideas rarely stand on their own merit.

President Obama knows this, and understands that style doesn’t replace substance ... but it is a critical part of selling the substance.

Passion sells. People connect on an emotional level, not just logical.

Perhaps one of the best communicators ever, Aristotle, talked about the necessity of using pathos (emotional appeals) as well as logic.

Our audiences – Congress included – respond to the emotion, not only in examples used, but also in message delivery.

People ask if I am a motivational speaker. My answer is no.

I am a content speaker who can motivate.

Of course, I love to hear, “You are so motivational.”

Isn’t that what we need from our leaders, and those who support them?

President Obama: With all due respect, some of your team members need speech coaching -- in order for them to get buy-in for their (and your) good ideas.
My blog this week is all about the need for (and benefit of) professionals improving their communication skills.

With that thought in mind … seats at my April 2 open enrollment career development workshop -- BRODY BOOST Camp -- are filling up. To learn more about how BOOST Camp can help your career outlook/job security, and secure your seat today, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Effective Communication is Critical – Especially When Triaging (& Caring for) Hospital Patients

Last week I wrote about the pharmaceutical industry.

This week, it became more personal.

My 84-year old mother passed out in her apartment. Fortunately, she had a medical alert button. So, she ultimately was taken to the hospital.

Hospitals are scary places. You don’t want to be there without an advocate. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

If you are old, sick, or unassertive, you can become a nonentity.

For example, my mother had four different health professionals (nurses, medical students, interns and residents) ask about the medications she is taking.

Did they compare notes? No, they didn’t.

They panicked when they saw something going on in her brain – but no one had recorded the fact that she had surgery 30 years ago for a condition, and there was some scar tissue. My mom told the nurse that, but no one found that note.

My mom told me that she liked a particular doctor. Why? Because she listened. Mom spent days being tested and no one told her for what, and why.

Here’s my take and recommendations for all hospital personnel -- and the irony is, for the most part, the negatives weren’t clinical or medical in nature, they were about good communication.

•Treat patients as people, not a disease state.

•Ask questions – listen – record responses when essential.

•Communicate these answers with all people involved in the “case.”

•Ask the patient what he or she needs – food, drink, the bathroom, medication, etc. Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel still works.

•Keep family members updated frequently – let them decide what information may not be that “essential.”

I realize that hospital personnel are overworked. However, if they treated each patient as though it was their mother (or parent); they might make the experience a bit more pleasant.

Typically, a hospital stay is not a choice, so, please don’t make it any worse!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

“Without Promotion, Something Terrible Happens: Nothing” – PT Barnum

For years, I have worked with many clients in the pharmaceutical industry, and thought that the companies – and the industry as a whole – needed to communicate more effectively in promoting the great work they do.

Do they make a profit? Let’s hope so!

After all, that helps to develop new drugs, which can cure diseases, and help with chronic illness, etc.

In my family alone, we benefit from their drug development in the areas of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, allergies, a host of infections, the flu, and, of course, the common cold.

I personally am grateful for drug development.

Do they make a profit? Yes.

I know I already said that, but it’s worth repeating – because making a profit helps the economy.

They pay taxes, and they have people who buy goods and services, and, therefore, pay taxes in turn. I believe this is a way to stimulate the economy.

America is a capitalist country – there is nothing wrong with making a profit.

The goal is to do good, and do well.

20 years ago, I used to say to my pharmaceutical clients that they needed to promote their industry differently -- in terms of the good that they do in the world, the lives that are saved and have been changed as a result of their efforts and products.

Somehow, the message has been lost on the public.

Why am I on a rant about this today?

I spent this past weekend in Texas, with eight other BRODY facilitators, presenting/facilitating at a Physician Speaker Training program.

I was impressed with the client’s commitment to drug development, clinical education, and patient care.

I understand and support rules, regulations, and compliance regarding promotion in the pharmaceutical industry. But, let’s not get so restrictive that education stops, and we, the public (and patients), suffer.

What’s the bottom line here?

Don’t assume that anyone knows the good that you do. It’s up to you to make sure that your message is widespread.

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Times Get Tough, the Tough Keep Going

“Certainly times are tough, but we recognize that employee development needs to continue.”

This quote, from a February 9, 2009, article in The Wall Street Journal, was spoken by David Metzger, Director of Management Development at Canon USA.

I congratulate Mr. Metzger and Canon USA for thinking “big picture.” As long as a business is still in business, the need for effective leadership is critical -- even more critical in difficult times.

A big part of leadership is communication. After all, you could be a brilliant strategic thinker, and may make great decisions, but if you can’t influence others, how can the decisions or strategy be implemented?

If you can’t communicate effectively, the rest of these attributes rarely matter.

Even if your company has cut back on training, it is no excuse for individuals to do the same.

Keep learning new techniques and strategies. At some point, this recession will end, and you will be well ahead of the game!

One avenue to consider -- my next BRODY BOOST Camp, April 2, 2009.

Click here for more information on this day-long open enrollment career development workshop.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Post-Layoff Action Plan: Pick Up & Move On

I’ve been fielding many inquiries of late from members of the media – all related to stories they are doing about our business climate of increased job loss and a horrific economy – and how those who weren’t laid off can cope with the guilt of “survival.”

This week, a magazine asked me how I’d respond to this scenario: Someone calls. Mid-level executive. He's been laid off. What are the first three things you say?

Here’s my reply:

The number one thing I’d ask him is why would anyone hire him? In other words, what does he bring to the table?

The next thing I’d find out is if he has identified his skill set, his passion, and his overall objectives for any future jobs.

Lastly, I would discuss his network – can he go back to his internal, professional and/or community network, to make contact with people in these areas and tap into his connections?

Unfortunately, too often, people wait until something happens before they realize the power of building networks.

Another question the writer posed concerned the psychological effects of being laid off in a poor economy. She wanted to know whether it makes it better or worse, psychologically, if there seems to be a sense that “everyone” is getting fired.

I believe that the old adage that misery loves company doesn’t hold water. It’s one thing when everyone else is being laid off. It’s quite another when it happens to you.

Many people take it personally and go through a period of mourning and anger. Most people are scared. Depending on their financial situation, they might go into crisis mode.

This is not a time to feel sorry for yourself, although a weekend of self-pity and reflection doesn’t hurt. Then, get moving!

It is time to assess your skill set, your network, your possibilities, and then have a focused -- yet flexible -- approach to landing another position.

Being laid off can affect one’s self esteem, family relationships, financial security, and lead to “victimitis” -- feelings of having no control.

You may need to reassess your options, possibly moving, return to school, consider new certifications, starting your own business, and looking at interim or part-time positions.

Therapy is also an option if you have the insurance and/or money to do it. The worse thing that you can do is nothing.

You can combat a layoff’s effects by doing something – taking action.

I’m referring to attending networking events, job fairs, registering on career web sites, reading and responding to want ads, volunteering, contacting your own network, exercising, eating well, and renting some funny movies.

Attending a professional development seminar is a good way to meet people, get some career-related coaching and techniques for moving forward.

You may want to consider attending BRODY’s BOOST Camp.

Keep in mind, successful people look for ways to get better.

Sometimes, a setback is an opportunity to switch direction. Life must go on!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Power of Persuasion & Thoughts RE the Passing of Stimulus Package

The power of persuasion.

It’s all about how you look at things.

Aristotle said that all speaking is persuasive speaking. Ultimately, the goal is to sell ourselves and our ideas.

This past week, it has been interesting to listen to the use of persuasion by our elected -- and appointed -- government officials.

The topic was the stimulus package.

Of course, President Obama wanted to get more (or at least some) Republican support. He wanted it to be a bipartisan package. But, his eloquent powers of persuasion didn’t work this time.

Persuasion is only possible when people hearing a message are open enough to take in the new information. If the mind is closed, there is no chance for this.

Unfortunately, we have close-minded people on both sides of the fence.

Going back to Aristotle, he suggested that there are 3 “modes of proof” – ways of getting buy-in from audience members.

The reality is that speakers need all three of these to succeed, which didn’t happen in the case of discussion concerning the stimulus package. The 3 modes of proof are:

1) Logos – information that hits the head, or logical evidence. Unfortunately, so-called facts and figures can be manipulated/slanted to say whatever the speaker wants.

2) Pathos – emotion, hitting the heart. Clearly, in the case of the stimulus package, the fear over the economy has been used to create a sense of urgency. However, if the desired audience doesn’t buy into whatever emotion is used (i.e. fear), it does no good.

3) Ethos – your personal credibility.
Depending on your perspective and political party, the ethos is either working for or against President Obama.

So, where does that leave us – the American public? Unfortunately, between a rock and a hard place.

Speaking of persuasion, persuasive speaking is one of several communication topics that participants of the next BRODY BOOST Camp on April 2 will learn about -- sign up today!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Do You Need One?

What are you doing to keep up your morale?

Doom and gloom is definitely in the air – with news of further corporate layoffs every day, and no end yet in sight to our nation’s economic woes, it’s easy to become despondent.

In my presentation “Step Up!” -- which I delivered as a webinar January 28th, and will be doing again in the future -- I talk about attitude.

Attitude is a choice. We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we respond.

We can be positive or negative – there really isn’t a neutral attitude.

I am not a “Pollyanna.”

And, although I prefer to think of myself as a positive person, clearly I have been known to take a few downward spirals over the years … experiencing the highs and lows that life and business ownership can dish out on a daily basis.

Here are my personal techniques to stay upbeat and positive:

1. Take 100% responsibility for how you respond to situations – no victim mentality

2. Set a good example

3. Hang around with winners, not whiners

4. Believe in yourself

5. Focus on the positives in your life

I also believe that regular exercise, laughter, an occasional “treat” (chocolate, a massage, seeing a good movie – OK, maybe MORE than an occasional treat!) all help.

Journaling -- particularly about what I am grateful for -- and focusing on the good, are other ways that help ensure I keep a positive attitude.

I would love to know your ideas, too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Social-Networking Sites Should Supplement Interpersonal Communication NOT Supersede It

Earlier this month, a Time magazine reporter asked in an article whether Facebook replaces face time or enhances it.

My vote is the latter.

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace,, LinkedIn and even the microblogging site Twitter all should supplement your daily personal and work interactions, but NEVER serve as a substitute for face-to-face encounters.

Sure, it’s a lot easier to log onto your favorite site, type for a few minutes – maybe IM someone or “send a drink request” via Facebook -- than scraping off your car in the dead of winter to fight traffic, or take a train, plane, taxi or bus to meet someone.

But, I ask you to consider … what price do you pay for this comfort?

A friend’s hurt feelings? A confused client? Upset relatives?

Reading words on a screen, even with a video and/or audio element added, is not -- and, never will be -- the same as having a real dialogue in person.

Many times there are subtle nuances to communication and body language that “speak” far greater than actual words. How does this non-spoken “conversation” get conveyed online?

It can’t. But, worse, yet, often the message being sent and even its tone are misunderstood or misconstrued by the recipients.

Before you drop your Internet access, and close your online accounts, I’m not suggesting that you do this -- or even resolve to meet everyone in your network once a week or even monthly.

I am simply reminding everyone of the importance of a phone call and in-person encounter as part of the communication “mix.”

So, the next time you consider sending your former colleague a friend request, sit back, log off, and pick up the phone. Or, schedule a visit the next time you’re in his or her neighborhood.

I guarantee you that the impact you make in reconnecting with this person in such a manner, will far exceed the actual cost of the call or gas in your car.

Nothing speaks volumes more than a real-life hug or handshake.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We Can Learn From Obama’s Inauguration Speech

One more day until we can stop saying “President-elect Barack Obama” and say “President Obama.”

Regardless of your political views, I am sure you are wishing him great success. After all, it is in the best interest of all Americans – and, perhaps, all world citizens.

If there has ever been any doubt about the importance of selling your message and yourself, our soon-to-be 44th president should have put that to rest.

President-elect Obama has used his background as a community organizer and his great oratory skills to mobilize, motivate and inspire millions.

He is a student of history and rhetoric. He plays to the heart and to the head.

Obama’s inaugural address should be interesting, indeed.

For students of public speaking (and shouldn’t we all be?), pay attention to how much logic, and how much emotion he uses. When does he pause for effect? When does he gesture?

Barack Obama is a studied and practiced person. He will have thought out and practiced every word, every dramatic pause for effect, and every gesture.

Peter Drucker said, “Spontaneity is an infinite number of rehearsed possibilities.”

When you watch the inauguration, and listen to President-elect Obama’s address, you will see a master at work.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Book Recommendations

I once heard the quote, “You are who you are based on the people you meet, and the books you read.”

Although there also is some DNA involved, I do agree that we are shaped by our interactions with others, and the reading we do.

That said, as an executive coach and speaker, I realize how often I share ideas and quotes from the books that I read with my audiences.

I am frequently asked for book recommendations, in addition to the ones that I have written.

Here is a list of books that have made a difference to me (in no special order):

Blink, Malcolm Gladwell

What Got You Here Won't Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter

Pivot, Alan R. Zimmerman

Jacked Up, Bill Lane

The One Thing You Need To Know, Marcus Buckingham (or anything else by him)

The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss

The Dip, Seth Godin (or anything else by him)

Enlightened Leadership, Ed Oakley and Doug Krug

The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

I would love to get your recommendations, too, so I can check them out, and pass them on! Post a reply here, or e-mail me –

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Setting Goals Is Better Than Making Resolutions

Some of you have made 2009 New Year’s resolutions, and to date, have kept them. Only 359 days left to go this year.


Others have made and broken their resolutions already. Personally, I don’t believe in making resolutions, which I think overall tend to be negative.

I believe in setting goals -- goals that are specific, measurable and observable. Often these goals are a stretch, but not impossible.

Let me give you a few examples. One is a goal that I had about 7 years ago. At that time, all of my reading was business-oriented -- news, training, sales, and business magazines, and also how-to books. These are things I still believe in, but I thought my conversations at parties were limited, and I was boring. My goal that year was to read 5 bestsellers, 5 business, and 5 motivational/spiritual books.

I kept a list next to my bed. After all, it was only 15 books a year, but more varied topics. Just by tracking everything – keeping the list in a visible place – I began to read more.

At this point, I don’t need that goal, I do it automatically. The results are that I am more informed, more fun, and a better conversationalist.

Here’s another example … a resolution might be to get in better shape. Instead, write a goal: Exercise 20-30 minutes four to five times a week.

Here’s another one:

Resolution: get more business. Goal: make 1 to 5 calls per day, 5 days a week.

Research shows that those who make specific goals, write them down, and share them with others, accomplish more than those who don’t.

This is nothing new, but always worth revisiting.

I hope 2009 is fabulous for you all. Only you can define what fabulous means!

Here’s my special offer to you, to help achieve your goals: Through the end of January 2009, I will offer my book Life Without Limits: A Guidebook to Turning Your Dreams Into Reality at the special price of only $5, plus any relevant taxes and shipping/handing. That’s almost $15 off the regular $19.95retail price! All you have to do is e-mail Miryam Roddy at or call her at 215-886-1688.

Happy New Year!