Search for that Second Layer

police, photography, intesne, fear
Last week I was recalling a story that not many people in my area can share. You see, there is this police officer who is known for being cold, intimidating, some might say gruff. Most folks view law enforcement this way, but in our town, it simply is not the case. We have some of the friendliest and most helpful police officers in the area with a high level of integrity.

Many years ago, my husband and I used to ride along with police, taking photos of the men and women who protect our community. I typically rode with the funny and sweet ones, always avoiding this one officer: Desmond. He was tall, with a strong jaw, sharp eyes, and you could see his strength underneath his pressed blues and bullet proof vest. He never acknowledged my presence, seemed to look down at me (well, he IS 6’4” and I’m 5’2” so that was easy enough), but I didn't feel welcome in his presence.

One night my husband and I walked into the police department, and only three officers were working. Rick and one officer headed out the door for an urgent call, the sergeant was doing paper work, and that left me, alone, with this giant gruff of a man. He looked at me, sighed, and said “let’s go.”

I could feel the tenseness of my intrusion as he moved his bags from the passenger seat to the trunk. And for the first thirty minutes or so, we didn’t say one word to each other. I just knew it was going to be a long awkward night! He fiddled with the radio and turned to a station that played popular music and asked “Do you like that music?” I replied with a chipper “Yes!” thinking, now we have something in common. He gruffly responded, “Great. You like the same crap my wife likes” and then switched the channel.

I felt defeated. How was I going to make it through the night! I thought maybe I could call Rick in a couple of hours to switch cars. As the clock ticked on, Desmond began to talk a little bit but only after I prodded him with questions like “How long have you been married? How many kids? Etc. Etc.” He humored me with his short answers.

A little later into the shift, Desmond thought it would be a good idea to take a break and have a sandwich at the local deli. He mentioned that I was like his wife in that I'm nice, bubbly, and sweet; and then he added that he wasn’t nice or sweet. Not even a split second after he said it, out of my unstoppable mouth came the words I immediately regretted, “Why do you think you are that way?”


He looked up from his sandwich and into my eyes. I thought “Oh, crap. I am about to be beat up by a cop in public!” I retreated in my seat and wished I could take the question back!

Desmond softly replied “I don’t know why. I need to think about that.” He shrugged with acknowledgement and took a bite of his sandwich.

Apparently, that was all that was needed for us to become buddies. Every time we saw each other after that, he would smile and open his arms wide and hug me. We tease each other every time we meet. Aside from his family and close friends, I think I am the only one in town who knows this side of him. I admire him for his career choice and how much he loves his family. And I am thankful he let me in to see his second layer, the softer, sweet side.

How does this relate to business? Oh, you already know the answer to that. When you meet someone who is gruff or surly, don’t brush them off. Look for that second layer, or let it happen serendipitously as it was in my case. Ask questions to determine their needs and learn who they really are so you can provide the best for them. Don’t let their sour attitude sway you. Just be yourself and success will follow!

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2012.


Butterfly Wings

author, business advice, business tips, design, expert, honesty, integrity, networking, photography, speakers, speaking, writer
Someone was commenting on the fact they can't find something to wear. I, too, have this challenge because I am a large woman and the shirts they make today do not have the longer sleeves that I prefer. I like sleeves that cover my big and saggy upper arms. I actually refer to my upper arms as butterfly wings. Funny story on how that came about.

You see, Becca is the lovely daughter of some dear friends of ours. She and I formed a bond when she was two or three. I loved this little girl with all my heart and soul. And she loved me. I still remember years later, that crooked grin, little pug nose, and those piercing brown eyes looking into mine and feeling overcome with unconditional love.

One day when she was about five, she was sitting on my lap and she poked on my big belly. She asked "why are you fat?" As her mother rushed over, interjecting "I'm so sorry" I brushed it off and told her the truth. "I eat too much, Becca." I took that moment to share and educate about how eating too much food can lead to people being fat. She then pinched my upper arm and said "Is that how your arm got so big?" I said yes. She snuggled closer to me, resting her head in my bosom and said "That's okay. They look like butterfly wings."

I share this story because I think most business owners have lost their ability to be direct and forthcoming. It happens as owners are left with the reoccurring challenge when partners and/or clients break contracts and commitments. Over time, we become jaded and, most often, distrustful of the next person we do business with. You can prevent much of this by having signed contracts and STICKING WITH the terms of the contract: For example, don't start a project until your payment terms are met even if this client or partner is a good friend.

For the next month, try greeting potential clients and partners with the same directness as a five year old. Be your genuine self instead of putting up those walls. You will soon learn that person's integrity, and if it is a good match, stick with the plan. If not and you have an "icky" feeling, be direct and honest, like a child, and say "It's just not a good fit for me."

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2012.


Hello! Hola! Ciao! Salut! Aloha! Hej! Hallo!

Welcome to Alicia Speaks! I have been putting off starting a business blog for many reasons. One, is I fear I will share too much of my personal life. Two, I feared I didn't have anything pertinent to say that my readers and business associates would find useful in their business.

Well, I have since discovered that not every blog post has to pertain to business advice. And apparently it is okay to share personal tidbits because people relate to you as a human. And that is how trust and respect is born. And when people trust and respect you, they refer you to their family, friends and associates.

So it is with this first blog that I welcome you and thank you for following my blog. To get started, I guess I should share a little about who I am:

I am loyal, friendly, funny, sometimes down-right hilarious, smart, creative, a perfectionist, genuine, direct, blunt at times, happy, a good listener, and successful.

I love to design, laugh, help, travel, photograph, dance, eat, play, talk, make beaded jewelry, swim, decorate, karaoke, and relax.

It feels really great to thoroughly please a client, discover new methods, complete a project "perfectly," plan and accomplish a goal, hear Rick's laugh, have belly laughs with my parents and friends, be comfortable in my skin, think about the future of my career, plan retirement with Rick, go to Yellowstone.

And for those interested in my life's path and successes:
- As an only child, I was raised in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
- I love my mom and dad and miss my grandma.
- Three years after graduating with a nuclear medicine degree, I moved to Greenville, Texas.
- My husband, Rick, is my soul mate (it DOES exist!).
- Rick and I were married in 1996 and it was the most wonderful day of my life!
- In 1996, we built our first home in Wylie, Texas.
- Jazz, a Husky-mix, became our first furbaby.
- In 1998, I went back to college and graduated with honors with a BS in Mass Communications.
- Rick and I became fire photographers for Wylie Fire-Rescue in the summer of 1998.
- I founded a local community message board in the summer of 1998.
- In 2000, Rick and I became members of Box 4, a volunteer group serving firefighters in Dallas.
- After employment in both a non-profit and corporate setting, I started a graphic design firm in 2004.
- In 2006, Rick introduced me to Yellowstone National Park. This was a huge reset button in my life.
- In 2010, became the founding president of the Wylie Citizen's Police Academy Alumni Association.
- We have two cats, Callie and Alex, and a Husky-mix, Bailey Mae (named after my grandma).
- April 2012, published my first business book with Michelle Ketterman for E3!
- Started the Speakers and Authors Briefcase in 2012, the first of its kind in the industry!
- In the process of writing two photography books.
- August 2012, Nominated for Leader in the Small Business Influence Awards.

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2012.