Is It Time To Recalibrate?

When you are driving in your car following the directions from your navigation system and make a wrong turn, the system immediately alerts you that you have gone off route. Then the system says it is “recalculating.”

Quickly, you are back on your way headed to your destination.

map1The other day when I heard my system say this, it struck me that I need to be as flexible in my life. I had lost my rhythm with my blog. I also had missed an accountability meeting. I was frustrated.

Then I decided to recalculate, or, recalibrate. Here’s how I did it:

Reviewed my goals. Whether personal or professional, it’s good to have goals. Mine are written down, and I review them routinely. I spent an hour looking at my goals and determining where I had made progress and where I still needed to make progress.

Developed a timeline. I looked at my goals and recalibrated how I could reach the goals and by when. I readjusted deadlines and also set interim deadlines.

Scheduled time. Now that I have reviewed my goals, I needed to block time to work on them. I scheduled two-hour and four-hour blocks on my calendar and what I am going to accomplish in those blocks. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you know you have a set time period on which to work on your goal.

Celebrated the victories. I met with my accountability partner the other week, and while I was not as far along on my writing as I would have liked, I had made a list of what I had achieved. When I saw the list, I was encouraged that I had made the progress that I had. It was good to see it in writing.

Get an accountability partner. I’ve written about the importance of an accountability partner. Knowing I have an upcoming meeting encourages me to spend the time working toward the goals I said I would. I don’t want to waste her time, and I want to have something to show since the last time we met. My accountability partner helps me to stay focused on the things I have said are important to me.


Tweet Your Way to Media Success

For years I had a Twitter account but never did much with it. In the last few years, though, that has changed, as I have found it to be an invaluable tool to help with media relations.twitter-1

Twitter is useful in several ways. You can use it to –

Conduct research and learn what is trending. When you are on Twitter you can see what reporters are covering and what are the current events. You also can discover the relevant hashtags.

Respond to reporters. Not all reporters put our requests for experts via Twitter, but there are many that do, and I try to follow reporters who cover the sector in which I work.

Amplify your reach. Once I have sent a media release, I always share it a few times on Twitter. If a reporter writes about my organization, I will tweet the story and acknowledge the reporter.

Talk about your business. You may have lots of great content on your website, but if no one knows to go to the site or where to look the information, it’s not helpful. Tweet about the content and include a short link to the content.

Pitch the media. If you aren’t getting any traction reaching out to reporters via email or with a media release, try a tweet. When I’ve done that, my stories have been picked up by outlets I was not aware of and I was able to get more coverage of a story.

This post is adapted from a workshop Cynthia teaches on using Twitter for media success. If you are interested in having her present on this topic or others, including crisis communications, personal branding or media training, please contact her at

September Resolutions Offer Fresh Start

059Back-to-school time was always a fresh start. Even after I graduated college, there was always something about September.

Perhaps it is the crisp, cool temperatures. Or maybe it is remembering the trips for new school clothes and supplies.

I like to think of it as my new year. This is the time of year when I make new resolutions and review the ones – if any – I made in January.

It’s the time of year when I really get organized. Maybe it’s all of the calendars on display, the planners for students, the colored markers. Whatever it is, I find myself making lists and figuring out what I want to accomplish between now and the end of the year.

If you’re ready for a fresh start in September, here are a few areas in which to maximize your fresh start:

Fitness I’m excited about the cooler temperatures. This summer I walked one million steps between Memorial Day and Labor Day. On the hot, humid days of summer it was a challenge My new challenge is adjusting to the lack of sunlight. I bought a light to use when I walk in the morning. In the evenings, I walk as soon as I get home from work. Then I eat dinner, which is the reverse of my summer routine.

Closets With the cooler temperatures, I am more willing to tackle the attic and the garage. Because it’s darker earlier, I’ll clean out files, and shred the papers while watching the new TV shows. I also reorder my closets to match the season and identify clothes and any other items to donate.

Writing I spend more time working on my books because I am not at the swimming pool or working in the garden. To keep myself on track, I’ve set daily and weekly goals, and I continue to meet with my accountability partner.

Finances This time of year, I always review my investments, track my expenses and begin thinking about travel for next year and how I will fund the trips. I make adjustments as needed and feel good knowing that I have trips planned and some savings in the bank.

Books Since the days are shorter, it’s the perfect time of year to tackle the pile of books I have amassed. Every year I say I’m not going to buy any books until the current pile is eliminated. Every summer I buy too many books and spend the winter catching up.

If you have additional September resolutions, please share them in the Comments section to inspire others.

What’s on Your Happy List?

I love big adventures and big, exciting news. But at the end of the day, it’s the simple things that matter.

Many years ago, I made a list of things that make me happy. I have a list because sometimes I do need to take it out and remind myself of the things I enjoy.

My happy list includes:

  • Enjoying a meal with friends
  • Riding my pistachio-colored bicycle
  • Getting lost in a good book
  • Feeding the birds
  • Going to the movies

I’ve also found that having daily rituals can make the day more enjoyable. My mornings begin with a walk. I enjoy the peacefulness of it. I’m shrouded in darkness when I begin and by the time I finish I have marveled at the beauty of another sunrise. Then I pour a cup of coffee and read the morning paper.


Friends surprised me with treats from Cafe Du Monde in anticipation of a trip to New Orleans. That made me happy!

After work I come home and grab my mail. Not many people get jazzed about mail anymore, but my mum and I write to each other each week. I love receiving an envelope from her.

I come inside and curl up in a chair to read the latest happenings at my parents’ home. As mum notes, it’s rarely exciting, but that’s okay because her words connect me with my family. I learn the latest pinochle scores, what was for dinner and what the neighbors are up to. Sometimes, there are clippings from the newspaper or magazines she reads – all things she knows I would enjoy. It’s a great ritual at day’s end.

Do you know what makes you happy? If you are willing to share, would you post your “happy” in the comments section? That would make me happy!






Creating a Powerful Presentation

I recently finished – or so I thought – my PowerPoint presentation for NFPW. However, as I always do with any presentation, I reviewed it through a checklist I created to ensure that I would be providing my audience with valuable information.

Because it was a new topic for me, I quickly realized that I had fallen into some familiar traps. I definitely did not want my audience to suffer a “death by PowerPoint” experience.

To avoid such an experience, I strive to make my presentations as visual as possible. This has several benefits:

  1. It avoids using slides as a script.
  2. It ensures that I have done my research, including finding images that reflect my key points.
  3. It enables audience members to focus on me the deliverer of messages instead of trying to read slides.

A TEDxRVA speaker toolkit noted that, “People need to process everything you are saying while simultaneously absorbing your slides.”

That means eliminating complex slides. With that in mind, I reviewed my presentation and realized I needed to do some tweaking, including:

  1. Using only one idea per slide.
  2. Identifying the great image that would convey my message.
  3. Creating short phrases for bullet points the few times I used them.

I reworked my presentation, and now I’m ready. I also must remember to pack the tools of public speaking. To learn more about them, check out this article from Inc.

If you are looking for tips on how to begin to build your presentation, check out this blog about how to use PowerPoint to support your presentation.

7 Tips to Get the Most From a Conference

Conference season is upon us. I’ll be attending two in the coming weeks, and I’m really looking forward to them. Through the years I have learned a few tricks to maximize what I get out of a conference.

1. Do your prep work. Ahead of the conference, review the schedule, the hotel location, amenities and anything else that is important to you. For example, I always find out how safe the area is for walking or if there is an onsite workout facility.

2. Review the schedule. You don’t want to miss the one session you should attend because you are elsewhere. One of the conferences I am attending is for mystery writers and fans. I looked up my favorite authors and have highlighted their sessions so I can be sure to sit in on their panels and hear their advice.

20160829_1956273. Bring the right tools. I now take a mini multi-prong adapter with me when I travel. I can plug in two devices and two USB cables. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to a hotel and I can’t find an electric outlet that is easily accessible. Traveling with this device lets me plug everything in in one spot.

Did you know that most conference attendees bring three mobile devices to conferences, according to the Benchmark Resorts and Hotels 2014 list of trends? I also go old-school and bring a highlighter, which is perfect for marking the program and a tablet for writing notes. An envelope or pouch is handy for storing receipts, business cards and any other relevant conference materials.

4. Take a nap. Conferences can be exhausting. Not to mention that most of us also are keeping up with our offices. Given that, sometimes it’s worth it to skip one session or a networking event to take a siesta. The downtime is the perfect way to recharge.

5. Leverage social media. If there is a conference hashtag, follow the tweets to learn what others think about the speakers and topics. Share your take-aways on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also acknowledge great speakers, conference staff and hotel staff.

6. Network successfully. I am not talking about walking around and collecting business cards. I am talking about introducing yourself to a few people, and then asking them questions about what they do. If you make a connection, continue the conversation and find out if there is a way you might assist them. Sometimes, it’s as simple as sending them a link for a resource. Be sure to follow up.

7. Block your first morning back. I always block the first morning I return to the office. I use this time to identify my priorities for the week, respond to outstanding requests and review emails. I also use the time to follow-up on conference items. This includes connecting on LinkedIn with people I met at the conference and ordering or downloading books I learned about and want to read. I also create a short document of my take-aways so they aren’t quickly forgotten. (To read about one I recently created, check out this blog.)

If you have a suggestion to add to this list, please leave a comment with it.





My Travel Checklist

I travel a lot, often for work and at one point internationally a few times a year. I’ve developed some tricks and tips to make it easier, and to not forget anything.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out what you need to pack in terms of clothes; just remember, less is more. I prefer to use a carry-on only, even for long trips and trips that involve multiple functions.

So as I wander the globe, here are some tips I’ve picked up or developed –

On your phone, enter the name, phone number and address of your hotel under “Hotel.” Each time you travel, update it with the next hotel. I find this particularly helpful in foreign countries where I’m likely to mispronounce it when telling a driver where I need to go.

Get a passport wallet or something similar and keep your important details in it. I keep a bit of cash, my passport and the credit card (usually associated with the airline I am traveling) in the wallet. Make copies of everything, and keep the copies in a different place. If you are traveling with someone, give it to that person. He should do the same.

Buy a small satchel for your chargers. I keep them all in one place. I stow them in my carry-on bag, but sometimes I am forced to gate check the bag. With the satchel I simply grab it and go. No fumbling for chargers that I’ve tucked throughout the suitcase.

Find a small bag (even a sealed sandwich bag works) – I prefer one of the free bags from a makeup counter – and put your pens, highlighters, stamps, envelopes and business cards in it. This way you already have everything you need. I find highlighters useful for marking up programs so I know what I want to attend. When you collect business cards, put them in this bag and then follow up in the evening or when you return to the office. The stamps are in case you want to send a letter or a thank you note. I find if I write my thank yous while at the conference, they get done and mailed. Since everyone complains about too much email, I find an old-fashioned note is often appreciated. The envelope is to store your receipts if you aren’t doing so electronically.

What are your travel hacks?