My Mother My Mentor

My mother gave birth to me twice. The first time, of course, was my arrival into the world. The second happened about 14 years later and it’s the second birth that I remember and will forever be grateful. I was a student in Mrs. Hargrove’s English class when the assignment was given to memorize a speech to give in front of the entire class. I was less than excited. I was a bit of a class clown but enjoyed that role out of the spotlight or from the back of the room. Like many young people, I dreaded speaking and the thought of doing so in front of a group of my peers terrified me. I told my mother I couldn’t do it. Thankfully, she told me I WOULD. She helped me pick out a poem from a book by Eugene Fields called “Jest ‘Fore Christmas”. Mom worked with me for countless hours helping me memorize the poem. She made me practice over and over and over until I could do it in my sleep. I practiced in front of her friends, the church ladies, and the neighbors next door. She also showed me how to use my hands to make appropriate gestures that complimented the words in the poem. She taught me to use eye contact, vocal variety, and effective pauses to land my message. In addition to memorizing the poem, Mom suggested I dress and act the part. The day came when it was my turn. Despite my preparation, I was beyond nervous. Dressed in overalls and a plaid shirt with a straw hat on my head, I walked to the front of the class. My palms were sweaty; my heart raced. I thought I was going to faint. And then I started:

Father calls me William

Sister calls me Will

Mother calls me Willie

But the fellers’ call me Bill

And on it went until I finished with the line “but jest ‘fore Christmas, I’m as good as I can be.” The class clapped and I returned to my seat satisfied that this most dreaded ordeal was over or so I thought. Mom, along with my English teacher, encouraged me to enter the school speech contest. From there I went to the county contest (a recent picture below with my mom and the trophy she helped me win many years ago). In between, there was a lot more practicing, a lot more coaching and a lot more encouraging. Along the way, I became much more comfortable speaking and no longer dreaded it. Of course, there were more presentations in high school and then even more in college. By then, speaking became so much easier and something I even kind of enjoyed. By my early 20’s, I was speaking to civic organizations, church groups, and even business groups. By then, I loved speaking. In my mid 20’s, I left my full-time job and started my career as a professional speaker.

My mom not only gave me life, she also changed my life. I feel confident that if it weren’t for my mother, I would have never overcome one of my biggest fears and certainly would have never found professional speaking as a calling and a career.

In celebration and remembrance of my mother and all the mothers who push their children to be their best, thank you for your influence, thank you for your teaching, and most importantly, thank you for your love. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven.

 

 

 

In memory of Lois Bunton Richardson January 26, 1932 – May 4, 2017

Is social media really anti-social media?

 

Time. It is such a precious commodity. Many people lament that they don’t have enough of it, and we yearn for more. Ironically, we seem to have an amazing amount of time spent daily watching TV and on Facebook.

–      Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerburg reported that we spend 50 minutes per day on Facebook.

–      The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports we spend 2.8 hours every day watching T.V. (which, incidentally, is more time than we spend reading – 19 minutes, participating in sports or exercise – 17 minutes, or social events – 4 minutes).

After reading the Facebook statistic, I did a little math. I have had a Facebook account for at least ten years. Using the time provided by Zuckerburg for Facebook use and assuming I have been the average Facebook user, here’s some statistics that could represent my Facebook time:

–      5.8 hours per week

–      23.3 hours per month

–      280 hours (11.6 days) per year

–      28000 hours (or 116.6 DAYS) since 2006

IF I had been the AVERAGE Facebook user, I would have wasted 116.6 days since 2006. Sure there may be good things about Facebook and other social media. The problem comes when users get sucked in without purpose. It’s when screen time takes precedence over face time and online chats trump live talking that it all turns into anti-social communication. Then it’s Wastebook, not Facebook, Trap Chat not Snap Chat, Twaddle not Twitter, InstaScam not Instagram and yes even SinkedIn instead ofLinkedIn.

Social media, particularly Facebook, can be a black hole of time suck that provides little return for your time investment. Imagine what you or I could do with 11 extra days each year (plus another 42.5 days if you are the average TV viewer). Cutting those two activities, or at least greatly reducing them, could conceivably give you time to start on or finish a college or masters degree, learn a foreign language, take up a new hobby, earn some extra income to pay off a loan, invest in your retirement, or help save for your kids’ college. You could also volunteer more, read more, exercise more, garden, take a cooking class, or just spend time with your friends and family.

Maybe you have been stealing time from your work or feel compelled to check your social media during lunch or while attending a “boring” meeting. Is the payoff of status strolling worth the time? Balance out social media time, even business related, with activities like job shadowing, researching a competitor, calling a customer just to listen to their needs, engaging with a new employee, taking a veteran colleague to lunch, enrolling in an online or company training program, offering to spearhead a new project, starting a mastermind or study group, organizing a charitable event, joiningToastmasters, or maybe just spend time each day thinking about how you could be more productive or effective in your job.

If you are spending too much time on Facebook or other social media, consider:

–      Giving someone you trust your passwords and let them help you monitor your time

–      Use the groups or messenger features only on your smartphone and ignore the timeline updates

–      Delete your account altogether

Time is an irreplaceable commodity. Become more social in what matters.

Unlock the Block: How to Jump Over, Push-Through, and Navigate around the Barriers That Hold You Back

Road blocks can be extremely frustrating when they are standing in the way of arriving at our destination.  We can all relate to a time when our route was changed by an unexpected road block. Usually, a sign alerts us to the block but sometimes it can be a surprise. We may have to turn around and head back in the direction we just traveled. While frustrating, roadblocks can actually be helpful and ultimately take us to a place better than the planned route. At that point, it becomes a building block to something even better.

Early in my career with the IBM Corporation, I faced a road block as I pondered a career change. I wrote about it below and included some suggestions to help you navigate around your work or personal roadblock.

Here’s the story:  This week I celebrated my annual Independence Day (the day I left the IBM Corporation to start my own business). I remember agonizing over the decision to leave the security and safety of a corporate job. I had applied for an educational leave of absence to pursue my master’s degree. My plan was to finish my degree while trying to see if I could make it on my own as a professional speaker. If I wasn’t able to make it in my own business, I would return to IBM after the two-year educational leave. IBM denied my request.   It was decision time. I felt like I had a well thought-out plan though I didn’t have a back-up. Most of us don’t think of alternatives when things are going well. Then the block comes and we are faced with a dilemma. The blocks can be major career decisions like mine was or they can be small blocks that prevent us from taking action on a goal. Our ability to navigate around a block is dependent on how we think through it and whether or not we are willing to take action.

Stop the block: Identify a block in your personal or professional life. Just as a block is six-sided, here are six points to help you unlock your own block.

  • Analyze the block. Write a clear statement of what the block is and where/how it started. What are the factors that caused the block? Did you do something to exacerbate it? Is there a mindset or behavior change that you can make to help alleviate the cause(s)?
  • How is the block affecting you and your personal or professional performance? Determine if it is a real block or if it’s mental. As any Olympic athlete will tell you, mental conditioning is as important as physical conditioning. Think about your mental mindset. How can you improve it to help stop the block?
  • What is the biggest pain, cost, or frustration that the block causes?
  • What action steps do you need to take to remove the block? Take the easiest action step and identify ways you could move past the block. Take one step right now.
  • Identify how your life or work would be better if you could permanently remove the block. What would change for you or the situation if the block didn’t exist? Imagine a perfect world solution. Visualize how things would be without the block.
  • What resources do you need to remove the block? Who do you know who has overcome something similar? If willing, how could they help?

While my decision to leave IBM wasn’t thought out as thoroughly as what I outlined above, it worked out well and for more than 25 years I have been fortunate enough to have my dream job. Independence for you and/or your company could start with a block unlock. Why not get started today?

Advance Your Business and Your Career

Here is an idea that can revolutionize your business and your life. Many

organizations have retreats, but how many professionals do you know that take

time to go offsite and do some thinking and strategic planning about their career

and life? A new year brings resolutions for many that are often broken before

the end of January. How about planning some meaningful time to go away all by

yourself and put some focused effort into your career? This process is commonly

called holding a retreat, though I like to refer to it as an advance – after all

you want to go forward. Your thinking, concentration ability and focus will be

enhanced when you can get away to an environment that is conducive to creative

thinking and planning. Find a place where there are no ringing telephones,

pending projects, or distractions of other kinds. To maximize your productivity,

leave behind your beeper, turn off the ringer on your cell phone, and block out

some time where you don’t feel rushed by other commitments. If you completely

clear your calendar and don’t call in for messages, your productivity will be

greatly improved. I read recently that Bill Gates even copied my idea! Except Bill

does a whole week and calls it his “think week”. He was quoted in USA Weekend:

 

“Ours is a very fast-moving field. You have to be able to step back from it. Many

years ago, I decided to take a week every year and absorb myself in thinking many

years ahead. I get colleagues to put together what Ph.D. theses I should read,

what products I should play with, what memos I should look at. So, it’s been,

except for sleeping a little bit, day and night all by myself uninterrupted.”

 

If Bill Gates can do this, I would hope that most of us could find at least one day

to spend in proactive thinking and planning. I did my first session on a beautiful

remote beach in the panhandle of Florida. I spent some time working on the

beach and some inside at the beach cottage I had rented. That one day advance

resulted in more career growth and action than any other single thing I have

done in my business. Since then, I’ve had a one or two-day session every year. I

have done my advances in State Parks, at Bed and Breakfast Inns, on a camping

trip, and in hotel rooms. Think of an environment that you enjoy and one that

stimulates your creativity. You might try the mountains, a quiet park, at the

beach or lakeside. Before you leave, give some thought as to what you want to

accomplish on your planning retreat. Here are some things to consider when you

advance:

 

Advance Forward

• Set big picture goals

• Develop major projects

• Brainstorm new ideas and products

• Plan educational opportunities to grow your career

• Write or revise your personal mission (you might want to read or reread

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People before you advance).

 

Questions to ponder:

• What can I do to develop and promote my uniqueness in my career?

• How can I continue to grow as a manager, salesperson or business owner?

• What questions can I provide answers to for my clients or my organization?

• Am I doing what I’ve been called to do or naturally do best?

• How do my family and friends factor into my work?

• Am I being challenged and fulfilled in my work?

• How am I going to stay energized and motivated?

 

What to do with your day

• Carpe diem – start early and work hard in the morning

• Eat foods to help you stay energized

• Make sure you are well rested before your leave

• Take an afternoon nap or short walk

• Reward yourself and play some after you have achieved your desired result

 

What to bring:

• Four to six colors of index cards, 15 to 20 of each color

• Something to record your thoughts and ideas

• Some motivational material to read

• Your favorite inspirational music

• Your planner and calendar

• A legal pad and colored pens

 

How to do it

Write a title card for the area you are brainstorming. Write one idea per card as

quickly as they come, not evaluating the ideas or coming up with action plans. If

you are familiar with Mind Mapping, create maps of each of your main ideas. Use

the different colors for different categories. After you have written several ideas,

spread the cards out and prioritize them. When you return to the office, post

all your ideas on a bulletin board in priority order so you will stay focused. Put

them where you can see them every day. Don’t be frustrated when interruptions

happen as they inevitably will. Find some way each day to work on the high

priority goals. Do something every day that will bring you closer to achieving your

big picture goals.

 

Remember the words of the famous anonymous philosopher who said, “If you

always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always

gotten.” Take an opportunity to make this year your best year yet. Schedule

some time, block it out on your calendar, and get ready for an incredible year!

 

(Tim Richardson, Certified Speaking Professional, is a professional speaker who

helps sales professionals increase sales and grow their businesses. He is the

author of JumpStarts: Wit and Wisdom to Supercharge Your Day (New Dawn

Press, September, 1998), Letters from Daddy: Lessons on Life, Love and Being a

Lighthouse for Your Son. (New Dawn Press, 2000), co‐author of Transformation

Thinking (with Joyce Wycoff, Berkley, 1995) and contributing author of

Meditations for Road Warriors (Paulson, Sanborn, et. al. Baker, October, 1998)

and Grand-Stories: Bridges of love joining Grandparents and Grandkids.