14 of my Most Important Goals (Currently)

#GOALS

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I’ve never been big on “resolutions” per se, but I am big on goals. I dream up, write down, re-set and re-adjust them throughout the year, not just on Dec. 31. But since New Year’s is a time of inspiration – and because I have loved reading others’ goals on social media – I decided to share a few of the goals I’ve set sometime within the last 6-18 months. Each goal has a different ‘due date’ – some I’d like to accomplish in 2018 but most are a bit longer-term.

If you have any tips or ideas on how to achieve them, comment below. And if you’ve set goals of your own, I’d love to hear about yours too!

  1. Be more grateful. Probably the hardest goal to measure on this list, but arguably, the most important.
  2. Learn a new language. Master Spanish (I was a Spanish minor in college but am a bit rusty these days) and/or learn a brand new language (perhaps French).
  3. Read two new books per month. I definitely read more in the winter. And I tend to read a lot of non-fiction. Time to keep my reading up every month – and take on more fiction! (Always accepting suggestions…)
  4. Create a stricter plan for student debt. I will not have all my student debt paid off in 2018. But my plan is to re-budget so I can pay it off by age 35.
  5. Master a gymnastics tumbling pass. My main goal at gymnastics class is to work on completing one pass on the floor: a roundoff back handspring back tuck.
  6. Learn an instrument. The two instruments I’ve always been drawn to are the piano and the harmonica. I may start with the harmonica… I hear that’s easier ūüėČ
  7. Volunteer more. Volunteerism has always been important to me. But my job – particularly in the summer – has made it tricky to commit to a volunteer program on a weekly basis. My goal is to find something project-based and flexible with my schedule – and ideally involves working with kids!
  8. Try a new fitness class. I set this goal about a year ago and back then, I decided to take on aerial silks at a local “circus school.” I had so much taking these classes that I decided to “re-up” this goal regularly. Next on my list? Either boxing. Or rock climbing. Or maybe trapeze.
  9. Learn knitting.¬†Although I’m not the most artistic person you’ll ever meet, I always enjoy working toward goals that force me to use my hands to create something.
  10. Experience more live performances. I’ll be seeing RENT this week(!) and hopefully Les Mis√©rables in the spring.
  11. Take a trip. So as not to impede on goal #4, I embarked on a very budget-friendly solo road trip in 2017. Without a doubt, it was one of the best trips of my life so far. And it confirmed for me that I can uphold my travel-related values without busting the bank.
  12. Write more.  I very much enjoy working on my hosting/improv/in-person communication, but writing is where I have always felt most at home.
  13. Eat cleaner. Join my Whole Life Challenge team!
  14. Make more time for people I love. Whether it’s in-person visits or Facetime calls, something I’m trying to get better at is making more time for my own friends and family.

Bonus Goal: Be okay with the fact I may only accomplish a portion of this list. Because it’s all about progress…:)

Happy New Year! #GOALS

M.

5 Life Lessons I Learned in my 20s

Peace 20s. ‚úĆ Bring on 30 and beyond.

I’ll be 30 next month. And probably like anyone entering a new decade and saying goodbye to another, I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on what the last 10 years have meant for me.

Ten years ago, I was 19 going on 20. Things were pretty ugly back then. My stepdad had passed away the summer prior. Our house was getting auctioned off. My mom lost custody of my youngest siblings. My family life was in total turmoil. It was so distracting, it was nearly impossible to see past the fog and into a more optimistic future.

That year, I tattooed the word “hope” in white ink on my wrist. Because that’s what I held on to at that time: hope that things would get better. When I look down at my faded tattoo today, I’m reminded of what life felt like at 19 and, although I had fun in my late teens and early 20s, I’m much more grateful to be turning 30.

IMG_5644

And things did get better. Along the way, I learned a lot (as we all do!). Here are just five lessons that made multiple cameos throughout my 20s:

  1. Listen more.
    Why is listening so hard? I mean, seriously…WHY. My 20s taught me that it takes real skill (that too many people lack) to look someone in the eye while thoughtfully listening to the words coming out of their mouth. When people demonstrate terrible listening skills, it says a lot of bad things about them: They’re either insecure, self-important or boorish or all of the above.

    Likewise, I learned that most people love to hear themselves talk. But the real talent lies in the skill of listening. I think I undermined this 10 years ago. I wish I had realized the class, professionalism and intelligence that come with closing your mouth and using your ears. I’ve had to re-learn this again and again with my on-camera role. It’s my job to help my interviewee tell their story; not to interject with my own insights every two seconds.When I’m sitting around a conference room table at work, I try hard not to blurt out my opinion first. Hear what everyone else has to say. And then share your opinion if you feel moved to. I am still in practice but I know that listening never makes you look stupid. You do run that risk though when you run your mouth.¬†ūüėē

  2. Hand out (genuine) compliments more.
    People don’t verbalize compliments enough. And that is a very strange thing to me.When I was probably 22, I remember sitting in a meeting with an influential and talented director-level colleague. This woman is one of the smartest people I’ve worked with even to this day. Our small group was discussing the topic of giving feedback to one another and she made a comment that the further along she’s gotten in her career, the fewer compliments she has received. “People expect me to be good all the time,” she assessed. This was odd to me because I thought everything this woman said was practically genius. And I thought to myself, “Why is it that I’ve never told her this?” Well because, I probably assumed everyone told her how smart she was. But that’s silly – why are we sometimes so scared to tell people what makes them great?

    I think compliments – when authentic – are important, whether it’s your sister or your CEO. (Did I mention you’ve gotta be genuine about it?)

  3. Don’t get into relationships that just don’t feel right.
    I probably could’ve written an entire article about relationship-themed mistakes I’ve made but in the spirit of not doubling my wine intake while I type this, I’ll include this teeeeny tinnyyyy flaw I repeated more than once in my 20s: Getting into relationships that did not feel right.

    Perhaps you too are familiar with the drill: You see potential in someone but despite your internal voice screaming: “This should not be a thing,” you continue the thing anyway. The worst is when you swear you won’t get into anything without it feeling 100%…and you do it again. On one hand, you definitely learn from every failed relationship but in general, this is not fair to either party. Wait it out. That whole “when you know, you know” thing is just a cliche way of saying “trust your instincts.”

  4. It’s never too late to start.
    It seems like the message we get these days is: If you didn’t start the sport or hobby by age 3, you’re outta luck. And that is beyond frustrating. My parents did not enter me in any dance recitals or band lessons. (I was lucky to get to be on my elementary school’s basketball team.) So by the time I reached adulthood, I was certainly not an expert at any given thing. I was, what most would deem, of average talent. And in my teens and even early 20s, I think I let that way of thinking intimidate me.

    Until one day, I decided to embrace a sport I’ve always been obsessed with but had zero experience in: gymnastics. I found a gym in Madison that admits adults, regardless of experience level, and I went for it. That was 2012. I still go to class every week. I’ll clearly never make an Olympic team but I’ve found something that makes me very happy every Monday night. (Hobbies coming down the pike include: learning French, piano and knitting. Stay tuned ūüôā )

  5. (Most) people don’t change.
    I was hopelessly optimistic about this one for a very long time. And I hate to end my dissertation here on something so gloomy but it is, by and large, the truth. People are who they are at their core. “When people show you their true colors, let them” are words of wisdom worth remembering.

Everyone glamorizes the whole being in your 20s thing. I’ve found it humorous (ok, maybe even borderline aggravating) just how many people have brought up my impending birthday with sorrow and sympathy. i.e. “Are you going to miss your 20s?”¬†You mean, am I going to miss being broke, insecure and in a state of perpetual confusion? No, no I am not going to miss that but I’m grateful I went through it. My 20s were full of good times but I’ll make sure to make more good memories in my 30s (and continue learning hard lessons, obviously).

Peace 20s. ‚úƬ†Bring on 30 and beyond.

M.

Before You Win, You’ve Gotta Learn to Lose

The thing is, people hate to fail. And that is ridiculous. 

‚ÄúWe can be truly successful only at things we are willing to fail at.‚ÄĚ -Mark Manson

Someone recently exclaimed in despair to me that I “win everything.” First, I laughed. Second, I denied it. And third, I thought about how badly I wanted to bluntly reply: you clearly have not seen all the ways that I have failed in my life! I didn’t though. Instead, I’m writing this blog post.

Most people don’t talk about their failures. It can be awkward and embarrassing. But such is life. Here goes!

The thing is, people hate to fail. And that is ridiculous. 

The only way to step out of mediocrity, as I see it, is to stick your neck out, raise your hand, speak up, try something you’ve never done before, and then fail at said thing a thousand times. Because failure is a beautiful, humbling, edifying path to learning the best lessons life has to offer.

Over this past weekend, I had the honor of attending the 2017 Emmy¬© Awards in Chicago. Now, I have a lot of opinions about awards like these. On one hand, it feels pretty damn good to get acknowledged for the work that you do. And an Emmy is the ultimate form of acknowledgement in my industry. On the other hand, people obsess over awards. It’s strange to me when I see someone get so wrapped up over a pretty trophy that they lose sight of the big picture. And believe me, it happens all the time – I think particularly in the TV/entertainment industry.

emmys
My friend and colleague, Teddy, and I at the 2017 Emmy Awards in Chicago! This photo was taken shortly after I got my gown stuck in the escalator.¬†ūüôĄ

Anyway, my work crew and I decided as a team that this ol’ stamp of approval was indeed a goal of ours. And we did it.¬†Two colleagues and I were up for an Interactivity award for our work on Discover Wisconsin. To get a nomination alone was a huge honor and one I am very proud of.

And I’ll admit it: I really did want to win that award. But that is not what happened.¬†Someone else walked away with it. (Congratulations Melinda Davenport!) I’m proud of the work we did but the lesson I learned was: maybe we didn’t put our absolute best foot forward. Maybe next time, we’ve gotta be even more clever, more creative and more inventive. And that is exactly what we’ll do (while keeping our eyes on the bigger picture, of course).

‚ÄúWould you like me to give you a formula for success? It‚Äôs quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn‚Äôt at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that‚Äôs where you will find success.‚ÄĚ

-Thomas J. Watson

Exhibit B: My involvement in the¬†Miss America Organization. Having competed in the program for three years, I lost far more than I won (7:1). For three years, I worked harder than I had worked for anything in my life at that point. And seven times in a row, I watched someone else be awarded the job I was so sure I would nail if given the chance. Each time, I had to reckon with the fact that a panel of five judges watched me interview, dance and sashay my way across the stage and said: “Nah.”

Each time I failed, I looked back at my performance and tried to figure out where to make adjustments. I asked my friends, family and most of all, the judges, to steer me in the right direction. I’d weed out the opinions that didn’t feel right in my gut and I’d hold on tightly to the ones that did. That’s important — following your instincts while navigating the success/failure line.

I did end up winning, only to lose a couple months later at the state level. And I learned so much about my own skill-set: I found talents I didn’t know I had. I also felt more in tune than ever with the areas I needed to work on.

When I gave up my crown a year later, I said to the next round of contestants: “Congrats to the future winner…take lots of pictures and enjoy the ride! But to all of you who don’t hear your name called tonight (I know how you feel!), know that you have an even tougher job. You can not give up. Keep trying and I promise you, something really great is just around the corner.”

Thankfully, lots of people encouraged me to keep trying before I won. It wasn’t just my own ambitions and dreams; it was also the encouragement of others. (Of course, there were naysayers, too. They will also be in the background. I liken them to “Ursula’s Garden”…remember those creepy sea creatures from The Little Mermaid? That scene is how I envision all the haters in my life.)

Polyps_from_Ursula's_Garden
Haters not welcome. ūüôÖ

The “failure journey” is maddening. There is no way around it.

Even before landing my gig with Discover Wisconsin, I must have reached out to hundreds of folks in the TV industry with the hope that just one would crack that door open. Just one tiny crack in the door…that was all I was looking for.

Unless you’re one of the golden few who just happens to get “discovered,” you will get 5,000 “No’s” before you hear “Yes!”

Persistence and the willingness to play in the first place is everything.

 

My Day as a Gymnast at Badger Gymnastics

I gravitate toward gymnastics because it requires an insane amount of fearlessness.

 

I didn’t grow up a gymnast. But I was always obsessed with the sport. As a kid, I’d sit so close to the TV as the tiny teenage gymnasts would appear one by one, each of them so powerful and confident and mega talented.

I grew up on a farm in the “middle of nowhere.” I was the oldest of five so there was no talking my parents into driving me 30 minutes away for class. My elementary school offered a gymnastics unit once a year and my eyes would light up at the sight of the vault, four-inch beam and foam mats set up across the floor. That excitement has never waned, even through my adulthood. And that is exactly how I found myself at Badger Gymnastics in Madison. It was the only place around that offered adults (with or without gymnastics experience) the opportunity to feel (and be!) a real gymnast.

Welcome to my workout with Jessie Carlson, owner and coach at Badger Gymnastics.

A Roadmap to Building Influence

You don‚Äôt need a fancy job title to make a positive and powerful impact. Let’s talk influence. First, what is it exactly? ¬†

influence

[in-floo-uh ns] noun

the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior and opinions of others.

Quite simply, it‚Äôs ‚Äúknowing the heart of the person you wish to influence and ordering your words (or more generally, communication) so they’ll act.” What I’d add here is: when they don’t have to.

The interesting thing about influence is you can be influential without being the leader. The old way was: the one with the power had the influence. Now though, the one with the influence has the power.

 

Why should you care about influence, you ask?

You’re influencing people every single day whether you realize it or not: at work, at home and everywhere in between. Employees are influencing their bosses. Parents are influencing their children. If you’re the type of person who is interested in moving the needle, you’re going to want to hone in on how to change others’ behaviors and outlooks.

Cruise through my Keynote presentation below for a deeper dive into some of the themes relevant to building influence – from self-awareness and likability to collaboration and authenticity.

Unlocking Potential #12: Q&A With Mariah Haberman

You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

This article originally appeared on garthbox.com. {Interview by Garth Beyer, @TheGarthBox}

Welcome back to another Q&A with a remarkable marketer as part of the Unlocking Potential series. I heard about a woman named Mariah Haberman when I first moved to Madison, I found out she worked at the PR agency I hope to work at, and then I got to see her speak not too long ago. (Post about impressions and link to her presentation here.)

Mariah has drive, excitement, and more passion that I thought one person could have. It will be clear as you read on. Without further ado, welcome Mariah.

Q: What motivates you to get out of your bed in the morning?

Mariah: Caffeine! And lots of it! I am so not a morning person so the fact that I make it into work before 10 a.m. is a miracle in itself. That said, I can honestly say I have never dreaded a day of work. Getting to discover Wisconsin is a cool gig but I think working alongside amazing and talented people is just the best thing ever. (Also: Free Sprecher root beer :D)

Q: What business would you say you’re in and how did you get there? What’s your story?

Mariah: I have a weird hybrid role: I’m both a television/radio host and a PR and social media marketer.

I always dreamt of working in television. In fact, I can recall writing my sixth grade career report for Mrs. Herbers about my aspirations of becoming a news anchor. In college though, I threw those dreams out the window after coming to the conclusion that a television career in Wisconsin during a recession was a ridiculous dream to have.

So I picked public relations. And upon graduating from UW-Oshkosh, I threw a few suitcases in my tiny ’02 Corolla and with my shiny, new diploma in tow, I made the trek to Chicago. There, I worked as a temporary assistant at an entertainment PR firm. Next, I decided to freelance back in the Madison area and then I worked at a wonderful marketing agency in town.

Meanwhile, I spent three years competing for the title of Miss Wisconsin. That endeavor really reignited my desire to pursue television. So, I reached out to the one contact I had at Discover Mediaworks and asked if, by any chance, they’d ever consider letting me guest host an episode or two. After several months of back-and-forth, the crew finally invited me to come in for an interview and audition. Apparently, they saw something in me, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q: What are four life lessons you’ve learned from following your muse?

1) Make things happen for you.

2) Be nice to people.

3) Own up when you’ve messed up.

4) Never take yourself or your work too seriously.

Q:¬†You‚Äôre constantly putting yourself out there. How have you dealt with fear ‚Äď be it of rejection or failure or even success?

Mariah: I hate to quote the most buzzed about kid flick of all time, but when it comes to being in front of crowds, you really have to just let it go. I’ll get nervous from time to time during the preparation of a big shoot or speaking engagement, but once I am on stage, or those cameras are rolling, I don’t even let myself go to that place of self-doubt. You’ve really gotta own it and believe in yourself, and when you make mistakes, you assess and move on.

So much of the television business I think is listening to your own gut. You are going to get people who absolutely adore you and your work. And the opposite of those people are Internet trolls :). I take it all with a grain of salt‚ÄĒboth the compliments and the critiques.

Q: What do you do to continue growing in your field? Are there a few special practices or habits you think people reading may benefit from doing too?

Mariah: The idea of being stagnant or out of the loop as both a host and marketer downright scares me. I am constantly trying to learn and get better at my craft whether it be through improv classes or online marketing research‚ÄĒyou name it. Regardless of how long you‚Äôve been in the biz, learning is essential.

The beauty of working in the agency world is that you’re surrounded by folks who specialize in all sorts of things that you may not necessarily be an expert in. But making an effort to understand their work inherently makes you better at your own.

Q: What has been a major highlight of your work?

Mariah: A viewer reached out to me on Facebook the other day to tell me that he and his daughter make it a weekly tradition to sit down every Saturday morning and watch Discover Wisconsin together. Hearing things like that ‚Äď from people who make our show a part of their lives ‚Äď is the kind of stuff that sticks with me.

Q: What is one characteristic you’ve noticed every successful marketer has? Better yet, what the heck does it take to become a remarkable PR pro or marketer?

Mariah: Great marketers want to learn; they are asking questions. They are paying attention not only to what other brands are doing out there, but more importantly, they‚Äôre noticing what people care about, why they do the things they do, buy the things they buy, and hang out with the people they hang out with. I think a marketer has to be easily fascinated by and curious about the world around him or her‚ÄĒand I‚Äôd say the same thing applies to great TV/radio hosts.

When you understand why people do the things they do, the ideations, strategizing and executing for brands comes a whole heck of a lot more naturally. (It’s still a tough gig, don’t get me wrong!)

Q: Would you tell us about a time you almost gave up and what you did instead?

Mariah: Interestingly enough, I actually have to tell myself to let go of things more often. (Noticing a theme here?) I get invested too easily. I love to dream big and I think the upshot of dreaming big is that you tend to bite off more than you can chew. So while ‚Äúgiving up‚ÄĚ often has a negative connotation, I really have to continue to remind myself the importance of walking away from the stuff I can‚Äôt or shouldn‚Äôt fix.

Q: How do you try to live your life? Do you have a life motto or a particular quote you stand by?

Mariah: Nah. No life quotes really. I just try to live life to the fullest…you know, find the silver lining in even the crappiest of days!

Q: What is a dream you have or a project you want to create that you haven’t had the time for?

Mariah: Sooooo many. I want to write my own book(s). Open a wine bar. Learn French. And piano. And how to cook (better). And more time for travel would be lovely!

Q: Where can people find you and your work? (Shameless self-promotion here!)

Mariah: Why, you can watch ‚Äúmy work‚ÄĚ every weekend on your TV screens (or laptops or tablets or smartphones)! Broadcast guide here: www.bobber.discoverwisconsin.com/broadcast ‚Ķand because social media is my thang, I‚Äôm pretty easy to find on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ūüôā

 

Stay Positive & Curiously Alive

 

Garth Beyer is a Madison-based writer and Public Relations Strategist focused on telling stories, running through trend-making PR strategies and trying new things in life.

10 Tips and Tricks to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

I don’t know a single soul who was born a brilliant public speaker…

I live for a great speech. I think that to¬†write and give a speech confidently is a powerful talent¬†to behold. It’s a big deal to me. I was probably one of the first people to follow¬†Obama’s original speechwriter on Twitter. (Hi @jonfavs¬†#iswearimnotastalker). And my penchant for¬†watching commencement speeches on YouTube has turned into a full-blown side hobby. (All-time favorite? Eh, it’s a toss up between Conan O’Brien at Harvard and Jim Carrey at Maharishi University of Management.)

So yeah…to summarize: One could conclude I have a bit of an appetite for communication, specifically public speaking. I suppose it’s¬†something of an obsession. ūüôā

And truth is, I’m not the only one obsessing.¬†According to The Book of Lists,¬†“speaking before a group” is the #1¬†human fear. For point of reference: Death is #7 on this list! Jay Leno put it best:¬†I guess we‚Äôd rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.

I’ve been pretty fortunate to hone my public speaking skills by way of my profession. Thus, I thought it might be helpful to¬†share a few¬†tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Here are 10 ways to channel that executive presence¬†while all eyes are on you:

  1. Practice. Practice. Practice.
    The most boring and obvious tip on this list is also, undoubtedly, the most essential.¬†I’d credit about 95% of the growth I’ve made as a public speaker¬†to practice. Rehearse¬†in front of your significant other or kids, in small groups at work, at your local non-profit…just put yourself out there. And be warned: To practice does not mean to memorize. When I’m¬†getting ready to speak – whether it’s a premiere party for Discover Wisconsin or a speech at a wedding – it’s not uncommon for me to¬†just make an iPhone note of three to five points I want to make or stories I want to tell. If I’m more anxious than usual for whatever reason, I’ll practice out loud¬†several times in my car. (I’m sure those who pass me on the beltline are all sorts of confused when they spot¬†an animated orator in the right lane! ūüėā)
  2. Watch Yourself Speak
    One of the “luxuries” of working on-camera is I have easy access to playback footage of my own work as a communicator. This has been incredibly helpful. But I was doing this long before I had a job in TV. In college and throughout my pageant days, I’d film my speeches and interviews and solicit feedback from my peers and professors. A major mistake people make is spending 80% of their time writing their material and only 20% of their time rehearsing it. You need to flip those numbers.¬†Surprise! It’s less about what you’re saying and more about how you’re saying it. We’re getting a bit into¬†paralinguistics here but people really have a tendency to mirror your emotions as a presenter. If you are communicating¬†in an animated, exciting, cheery way, chances are, you’re going to notice some smiles on people’s faces. If you’re going for a more solemn, dramatic mood, expect some pensive crowd reactions.
  3. Study Others
    Whether it’s a bridesmaid speech or the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, I’ve learned as much from others as I have my own speeches. There are always little nuggets to glean. For example, by watching a¬†speaker I admired, I learned to be okay with a little silence – to embrace it actually. When I was in front of a group and unable to come up with¬†a way to wrap up a point I was trying to make, I’d feel my face get real hot and search for¬†words – any words – to fill the silence.¬†But a little break in your flow is just fine. Take¬†President Obama, for example. An incredible orator, inarguably, but one thing that has struck me about his speeches and interviews is the fact that silent pauses are trademark Obama. You can tell he is searching around for the perfect word, the perfect way to wrap up what it is he’s¬†trying to communicate and it sticks with you because it comes across as authentic and not rehearsed (even if those dramatic pauses are¬†indeed rehearsed).
  4. Tap Into Self-Awareness
    While studying others is helpful, knowing yourself is essential. Capitalize on your strengths Рare you an amazing storyteller? Do you have a sense of humor? Are you able to simplify complex concepts? Or do you have a flair for drama?
  5. Consider the Audience, but Don’t Overthink It
    Knowing your audience is paramount. It can be daunting to try and guess what it is they’d like to get out of your talk. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to ask the host/moderator/event planner: “Is there anything in particular your group wants me to address or share?” That said, don’t overthink the audience factor. I find a lot of people focus a little too much on¬†the audience and not on their own material. Don’t worry so much about them – they are not there to watch you fail.
  6. Ruminate Over Your Transitions
    Ah, the transitional trap…Picture this: The Best Man¬†is at the head table – mic in hand. He’s really getting into a funny story about the groom¬†and he’s telling it pretty well! But now we’re nearing¬†the end of the story, and you can tell he’s¬†unsure how to transition to the next point. He didn’t think that part through and this is where you usually get an awkward “So…yeah. I thought I’d share that…with all of you…” Gah, facepalm, we were off to such a great start! One of the biggest differences between a¬†great speech and a mediocre one comes down to the orator’s ability to smoothly transition from point to point. In other words, he or she has built a roadmap for the entire speech and didn’t just work on¬†the individual topics/stories.
  7. Get Your Audience Involved
    If¬†it makes sense, consider asking questions in the middle of your talk. This shift in your presentation pace may re-energize the audience and also give you a chance to recalibrate. Plus, fun fact: people learn best in 20-minute chunks…which is a major reason why¬†TED Talks are as popular as they are.
  8. Do not personalize the audience reactions.
    This lesson was a BIG one for me. I’ve always considered myself pretty¬†attuned to how people are interpreting my messages. So during my first talk with an Alcohol and Other Drugs class at UW-Whitewater about a highly personal topic (alcoholism in the family), I was a little discouraged when the 75¬†students I spoke to seemed rather¬†apathetic and incurious throughout my talk. As I would speak and make eye contact with each student, their expressionless faces had me thinking: “I’m not getting through to them. They’re not interested in what I have to say.” This is probably the worst feeling to have as a presenter. With every passing word, my¬†confidence further dwindled while my anxiety gained momentum.Two weeks later, I received 75 feedback forms in my mailbox from the professor of that class. I dreaded looking through them, so sure these college students would rip me apart. But I was numb with emotion after reading every last one of those feedback forms; they told me what I had to say really moved them. Some of them shared their own personal stories with me that were over a page long. I was shocked. They weren’t at all disinterested…they were simply concentrating hard on what it was I was saying.

    Side note: This is also why, as an audience member, I always try to make a point to give presenters non-verbal cues while they are on stage. Whether it’s in the form of a head nod or even a smile, I think it’s important to let presenters know: “I hear you. And I like what you have to say.”

  9. Just Breathe
    Man, adrenaline is one hell of a hormone. When your mind and body are under stress, your¬†fight-or-flight response kicks in. When I’m nervous, I pace back and forth. I tend to make everyone else around me nervous but I need to move around, it helps calm me down.¬†Take deep breaths and reassure yourself that all the preparation you’ve done up to this point means you’ve got this.
  10. Know That It’s Okay to be Nervous
    Actually, nervous¬†energy is a good thing. It means you care about this thing you’re about to do. Even though it’s my job to speak in front of people and on camera, I still get nerves – sometimes it’s just an adrenaline rush before I walk on stage and sometimes it’s full blown chest-tightening, hand-wringing¬†nerves. I’m not convinced it’s anything you’re ever completely “cured” of. In fact, of all the speeches I’ve given, there is a handful of¬†which I felt a bit disappointed with¬†my performance and of those, there was one common thread: I didn’t feel nervous beforehand.

Most importantly, don’t just decide that this is something you’re bad at. I don’t know a single soul who was born a brilliant public speaker. It’s a learned skill and like any learned skill, practice makes perfect. So get out there!

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16 of the Craziest Things I’ve Done on Discover Wisconsin

Cheers to another year full of adventure, mishaps and fearlessness!

One of the more popular questions I get asked is: “What’s the craziest¬†thing you’ve ever done on Discover Wisconsin?”¬†There’ve been so many wild moments, but here are 16 that come to mind:

  1. Completely bombed a waterski jump on Lake Arrowhead…three times in a row
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  2. …but redeemed myself by waterskiing behind a seaplane!
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  3. Kept the bulls at bay as a rodeo clown in River Falls
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  4. Competed in a smooshboarding competition in Hudson
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  5. Judged a “Show Me Your Fur” Contest during Fun on the Frozen Flambeau in Rusk County
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  6. Kayaked these CRAZY rapids in Black River Falls…
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  7. Floated above Lake Geneva in a hot air balloon
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  8. Motorcycled my way around southeastern Wisconsin
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  9. Toured Lambeau Field with former Packers kicker Chris Jacke
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    Dressed up as an 1800s dame at the Baker House in Lake Geneva
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  11. Competed in a barrel racing competition in Buffalo County
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  12. Buzzed around Lodi’s Smokey Hollow Campground in a giant shopping cart
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  13. Made my way around the backwaters of La Crosse by airboat
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  14. Flew over Oconto County in a helicopter
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  15. Played snowshoe baseball at Blizzard Blast in Conover
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  16. Performed with the Rock Aqua Jays Water Ski Show Team in Janesville
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Ah, the memories! Hats off to the #DWcrew for putting¬†up with my shenanigans ūüėÄ If you have a favorite moment or episode, comment below. Let me know if you have a destination you’d like to see featured on the show, too!

Cheers to another year full of adventure, mishaps and fearlessness!

What I’ve Learned From 13 Jobs in 13 Years

Work work work work work ūüé∂

There’s a lot I have yet to figure out about life but here’s one thing I know with absolute certainty: having as many varied experiences as you possibly can is a major and direct contributor to personal and professional growth. It is so much of what¬†determines how quickly (or conversely, how slowly) one¬†develops.

Many¬†of the jobs I’ve held seem, at least on the surface, rather unremarkable. Others truly put the¬†“odd” in “odd jobs.” Each¬†– while diverse¬†in the skill-set required – has impacted me in a¬†pretty¬†profound way. First,¬†the super quick rundown:

Skipping the years I spent baby-sitting, my first “big kid” job was as a¬†cashier for Piggly “Shop the Pig!” Wiggly. (I can still recite a handful of PLUs. Bananas: #4011) In high school and early college, I also was a waitress at a few different restaurants. (And subsequently, was quickly made aware of how sucky my multitasking skills were.) Then my dad, who worked at Oscar Mayer for 13 years scored¬†me a stint¬†as an assembly line worker¬†in the factory’s ham slice department. He told me this job would teach me to stay in college. He was right. That same summer, I also worked the p.m. shift as a retail associate at Hollister at West Towne Mall. (Not sure which environment I hated more: 40 degree, smoked ham-smelling basement vs. the “So Cal” cologne-infused teen dungeon.)

Later, my lifelong obsession with gymnastics would draw¬†me to a kids center near my hometown where I worked as a gymnastics assistant. On campus at UW-Oshkosh I worked as a journalism assistant as well as a phonathon caller, where yes, I called and convinced alumni to fork over some cash. (i.e. “I totally understand $50 won’t do but how bout a tax-deductible $5 gift to the UWO annual fund? Every dollar counts!”) And then there was the summer I was an¬†MMA Ring Girl. (It wasn’t as interesting as it sounds but…$$$) I was also a bartender at a couple different golf courses as well as a bar in downtown Oshkosh. And then post-college, came all my recent stuff AKA¬†social media consultant, marketing strategist, TV host and producer, etc.

And now for the analysis.

The thing is, in my early 20s, I was pretty insecure about how many jobs I had already held for my age. I had to defend my ADD-inducing resume at almost every interview I had. Working consistently at the same place¬†for multiple years seemed to be the idyllic¬†route¬†– decided by my peers, my employers and by society. There is something to admire about that, for sure, but as you’ve probably guessed, I’m here to tout the opposite¬†ūüôā

For starters, working this many various¬†jobs throws you head first into a lot of weird, wacky, frustrating, challenging, stressful, exhausting and rewarding situations. You’ve gotta buckle up, adapt quickly and brush off the stress¬†when you show up for your waitressing shift, and the¬†only two other scheduled¬†waitresses called in that day and it’s Mother’s Day and you have the ginormous¬†patio all by yourself and oh my God, you just spilt the entire pitcher of ice cold water on THE MOM and it’s MOTHER’S DAY. Shit. She’ll give you a good tip though because she pities you. Not all is lost.

When you work a lot of jobs, you’re never anywhere for too long. This means you’re always the new girl in a foreign land, which is translation for:¬†learn how to have thick skin, especially when the veteran lady line workers¬†at Oscar Mayer gave you¬†major side eye when you stack up 3 feet of ham because sweet jesus, the bubble packages on the line MOVE SO DAMN FAST. Next thing you know, they’re shutting down the entire line because “COLLEGE GIRL CAN’T KEEP UP.” And because you’ve learned how to adapt well in previous roles, you’re able to shamelessly retort, “My dad is the maintenance guy here…just FYI” any time¬†those nasty ol’ ladies get real out of line. Works like a charm!

Working this many jobs as a teen and through my 20s, also helped me weed through what I was looking for in a career¬†and in the team I wanted to surround myself with. I mean, let’s be honest, you don’t have to hold a lot of jobs to know that terrible bosses¬†are a dime a dozen. I’ve certainly got a real vivid depiction of “Manager I Don’t Ever Wanna Be” but unlike a lot of other professionals (so it seems) I’ve also had the good fortune of working for some amazing people. And as much as I learned from the bad eggs, I also¬†eagerly consumed every ounce of leadership lore that I could from¬†the really great ones.

And these¬†are just paid gigs¬†we’re talking about. If job-jumping has you feeling uneasy, there¬†are umpteen other ways to take in a variety of experiences like volunteering, travel and classes,¬†just to name a few.¬†However you decide to weave in and out of your own lane, I think these experiences will make you¬†more sophic, open-minded and perceptive of the big picture.

Speaking of the big picture, here it is: The more people, places and positions you experience, the better you’ll be for it.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think below.

 

Please Stop Saying “You Complete Me”

To have a partner in life is a bonus, not a prerequisite to survival.

“You’re my other half.”

“My life began after I met you.”

“You complete me.”

No. Just, no. These bathetic, saccharine phrases may sound romantic at first pass. They’ve been written into narratives, scripts and screenplays. They’re repeated at our own friends’¬†wedding ceremonies as if they were plucked right out of the “How to Write the Perfect Wedding Vows” article on TheKnot.com. You may think I’m being cynical but I’m not; these phrases don’t offend me personally. They just evoke a major bout of, “Do these people truly¬†believe this about themselves? Or, is this the best way they know how to write/speak romantically?” If its the latter, said offenders may be forgiven because I realize some of us pay more attention to wordage than others. I totally get it. But if there are masses of people in relationships who think they’re¬†only half of something awesome, that to me, is a really big problem – societally speaking.

Bottom line: If you’re one half of something, you’re broken. Broken people should not be in relationships. They should be working on healing and becoming whole by knowing themselves.

I¬†get that “You magnify my best self and also call attention to the areas I need to improve and together, we as a couple are extraordinary!” doesn’t quite roll off the syrupy¬†tongue in the same way “You complete me” does.

And I know¬†that “I can handle life without you but man, I really, really, really love experiencing things with the love of my life by my side.”¬†doesn’t quite pack the same punch as¬†“I can’t live without you.”

I held on to the hope that¬†women younger than me were sure to embrace the importance of being whole. And then the Twilight series blew up and I became seriously concerned. I was concerned because Bella from Twilight is not cute. She’s pathetic.¬†Perhaps you read the books too; if so, you also¬†know the storyline is as pedestrian as they come but the real tragedy is Bella’s character. She was literally physically weak every time her guy left the room…she irked me to my core. She’s everything that is wrong with men and women¬†who put too much pressure on equating self-actualization¬†with their significant other. Had she said, “You complete me” in her wedding vows to Edward, I’d have believed her, sadly. But to have a partner in life is a¬†bonus, not a prerequisite to survival.

If you need to idolize a fantasy couple, it needs to be Elizabeth and Mr.Darcy. Bella + Edward < Elizabeth + Mr. Darcy

What do you think? I’d love your thoughts – Chime in below please!