I am Fearless

A business associate posted a photo on her Facebook wall hat said “I am Fearless.” I took note but it didn’t quite resonate with me as it did with another person. She replied “I woke up thinking about this and realized that I am not fearless, but I really should be and want to be. I've always been a risk taker and I've always been one to push the envelope but I still have fear and there are areas in my life that I still hold back on due to fear.”

I replied “I am fearless and have been most of my adult life. Join me!” Yes, after graduating college I did everything I set my mind to and without fear. I traveled to Europe by myself backpacking from France to Switzerland to Italy and then flew to Egypt for a 7 day tour. Then a few years later I visited Egypt again and walked the streets of Cairo, fearless. I moved to a new city, with a little bit of trepidation as to my future, but I risked it and did it, becoming fearless as each day passed. I met my soul mate, Rick, on the Internet. Again, fearless. Taking a risk, meeting strangers, to find “the one.”

Do I have any fears at all? Oh yes. When I unexpectedly come within 25 yards of a bear in Yellowstone that is a REAL fear! I fear being injured in a car crash. I fear my loved ones dying too soon. But that is not the context in which I define myself as fearless. The context to which I refer to the term “fearless” is my personality and the actions I take to be who I am. My actions are a bit more risky than most, and there are times when I question, “am I being fearless or just plain dumb!” Like the time I walked through a dark park in Rome at 10pm, only to learn the next day from a handwritten sign in broken English on the bank door to watch out for “thiefs, robberys, and rappers.” The latter meaning rapists, not hip-hop singers.

So do you fear that prevents you from being who you want to be? Is it realistic? Or are the thoughts in your head lying to you? Because you do know that thoughts are NOT facts, right? Just because you “think” it doesn’t make it true. Ah, gotcha you on that one, didn’t I? Mull that over a bit and apply that statement to your next thought filled with fear or uncertainty. Are you really that shy or do you lack trust in people until you get to know them? Do you allow your thoughts about your body image control your actions thus hindering your success?

Get this: I was 240 pounds when I did a zip-line course through the jungles of Belize. I was 260 pounds and sang my first solo in front of an audience of 300. My weight didn’t stop me but it would stop a dear friend of mine. I’m not saying I don’t experience fear, I do. I just get over it quicker than most. For example, I WAS afraid of the height of the zipline and I WAS afraid of singing in front all of those people. But only for a few seconds and I sure didn’t let that stop me.

So, what is it that is stopping you? Write down your fears, check off the all non-factual thoughts from the list, and then act as if you have no fear. Get to the point of being fearless to succeed in your dreams!

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.


Watch Your Language!

In 1991, my community college Spanish teacher invited her class to her home in Honduras. Two other students and I jumped at the opportunity. We were excited to test our new language skills in a native land. After all, we spent two nights a week for three months learning conversational Spanish.

On the plane we tested our new found tongue using simple phrases such as “please” and “thank you” gratuitously to anyone who had an accent. It wasn’t until after the flight, we learned our gracious stewardess on Aero Mexico was actually from the Philippines. And when we settled into a hotel, the owner spoke English and was excited to test his language skills on us Americans. We obliged. Why make it so difficult?

Each day, our teacher and hostess took us on a little adventure, speaking to us in English and Spanish. Her brother spoke to us primarily in English to increase his language skills. It seemed everywhere we went, we were speaking English and all we wanted to do was speak Spanish.

A few days into the trip, we had a day to ourselves to explore our surroundings. We walked to a little market just down the street from our hotel. We nodded to those passing by, smiled at an old lady without teeth, stopped to pet some dirty cats, truly taking in each sight and sound of the streets.

Within a few minutes of arriving to the market, one friend, Becky, found a trinket she wanted to buy. The moment had come. She was going to attempt to speak the native tongue. And she failed. The shop owner looked at her quizzically and she tried again. “No comprendes,” was the reply. So our other friend, Marianne, stepped in and the shop owner answered. Problem was we didn’t know what he said. We asked again, and he replied. Yet, we still did not understand! After a handful of gestures and counting on fingers, Becky exchanged some change for her trinket and we were on our way.

We shrugged it off as our first encounter and took into consideration that Becky’s thick Southern accent is probably what caused the language barrier. As we rounded a corner, a western food chain, Pizza Hut, seemed to call out our name. So as not to take chances with street vendor food, we stepped in. You would think a Pizza Hut in Honduras would be the same as a Pizza Hut in Houston. Well, it’s not.

The menu was completely different, and guess what? In Spanish! Ahh, another opportunity to speak Spanish! I was so excited. I successfully placed an order for a slice of “pepperoni y queso” pizza. I knew the word queso which was great because I love cheese. But Marianne wanted to know what kind of queso. She attempted to get an answer but after several failed attempts she just placed her order for a slice without queso. I asked her why and she said there are some cheeses she can’t tolerate. Well, I don’t know about her but I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza. I noted the cheese tasted different but I enjoyed this special North American treat in the middle of Central America.

Later that evening, our hostess stopped by the hotel to make sure we were okay. Marianne replayed the conversation at Pizza Hut. “So exactly what kind of cheese was this queso,” Marianne asked. Our hostess replied “Oh. Goat cheese! It is good, no?” I about died. I had never had goat cheese in my life and I am not very adventuresome when it comes to my food. “Well,” I said wide eyes and a huge grin, “I am still alive and not sick so I guess, yes, goat cheese is good!” We all got a chuckle out of it.

So I can’t speak Spanish all that well but in business, I do speak my own language extremely well. I use different jargon when designing websites, when brochures are being printed, and even for laying out a book. When speaking to my clients I must remember that they may not understand my unique language. It’s easy for me to rattle off a list of things I need from my client but words that seem self-explanatory actually may not be. 

The last thing I want to do is send a message that I cannot effectively communicate with my client.
So I have started speaking in basic terms and while speaking ask if what I say makes sense. If it doesn’t, I go back and provide a visual image with my words. I find that when I explain something visually, people get the idea right away. In fact, I take pride when I hear a client use jargon that she has learned from these explanations.

I encourage you to be cognizant of the language or business jargon you use when working with clients. If they understand your message clearly, then there is no confusion and everyone is on the same page. It makes for better customer service. Tu comprendes?

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.

Evaluate. Repair. Learn. Move On.

The wind came in fast as the sky darkened. The temperature outside dropped 10 degrees, a welcoming side effect of the coming rain storm. I sat on the back porch, enjoying the coolness of what had been a hot day, 96 just a few minutes earlier. Trees danced as the wind picked up and the rain moved in.

Back of the Room Products TipAfter relaxing for a bit, I came inside to begin dinner. Standing at the kitchen sink window, I hear a really weird sound. Kind of a crack, crack then soft thud. I open the blinds to the back yard and see half of my 30 foot Bradford Pear tree split in half. Half still standing while the other half rested on our wooden fence. “Rick!” I call out. “The wind broke our tree.” Rick emits a grumbled, annoyed response.

Just a month earlier, we were talking about this tree. That it was time to come down. The grass wouldn’t grow, it affected our other tree’s growth on one side, and it wasn’t a long living tree. Rick actually began the quote request on tree removal from a few vendors. And while I was relaxing in the wind last night, I was still debating on whether or not I was ready for that tree to go. I really liked that tree. It blocked my back door neighbor’s view into our yard. It brought robins, cardinals, blue jays, and mourning doves to the yard. It displayed fiery red leaves in the fall and bright white flowery dots in the spring. Well, Mother Nature settled my debate!

This morning, we woke to a heavy, hot task of cleaning up the mess of limbs and leaves. We surveyed the damage. Fortunately, the heavy tree missed our carport by a foot. And only a few boards on the wooden fence will need to be replaced. It would be a fairly simple repair job. Next we moved onto the task of clearing away the fallen branches. Rick used his chainsaw to cut limbs into manageable sizes. I raked limbs and leaves into a wheelbarrow. Everything was neatly arranged in a pile in the front of our home for pick up.

Back of the Room Products TipAfter our job as done, I sat on the back porch with a cold drink to rest. I noticed something interesting. A pair of robins appeared to be looking over the damage of the tree. The bright red-breasted male surveyed the grounds where chunks of bark and leaves rested. Then he flew to the fence near the tree appearing to investigate the large crack in the trunk. The female robin began to pick up sticks and leaves off the ground. She flew into a nearby tree where she was rebuilding a nest.

Back of the Room Products Tip
I thought about this scene. We humans are not much different from a pair of robins. There was damage, items were displaced, we picked up the pieces. We moved on. There are two lessons from this story, one being if you wait long enough, someone will handle it for you. But I’d like to focus on the other lesson: when something goes awry, pick up the pieces and move on.

We all have experienced a poor outcome when working with clients. We are human; it will happen to the best of us, and it will happen even if you have followed all the “rules.”

Sometimes things just happen. For whatever reason. The best thing to do is: evaluate the situation, do damage control, and move on. Even after suffering damage to their nest from the storm, the “Robins couple” moved on and possibly learned they need to build a stronger nest. You, too, can learn from your mishaps and apply them to the next time, the next project, the next goal. Evaluate, repair, learn and move on.

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.