Category Archives: Personal Development

Power of Branding on SouthWest Airlines

Even though it’s crowded and a bit chaotic, I still am a loyal SouthWest Airlines customer.  I fly back and forth to the East Coast frequently with two college kids in New York and my twin sister, Diane, in Boston.  And I always fly SouthWest if I can.  Why?  Because they are more personal, they don’t give me a hard time, and those peanuts taste pretty good after the 5th hour in the air.

So I never really thought about the SouthWest corporate brand until a recent trip when I overheard two young boys talking to their Dad in the row behind me.  “So Daddy, why do you always fly Southwest?” It didn’t take Dad long to respond . . . “Because the fares are cheaper.  They allow two bags for free.  And they are more fun.”

Wow, that’s really what powerful branding is all about. People asking each other why they do business with certain companies.  SouthWest figured this out years ago . . . create customer loyalty through personal connection and proven unique promise of value.  This is their personal corporate brand and it’s authentic, consistent and incredibly successful.  And the yearly ratings of all the airlines always have SouthWest at the top – just like the customers are talking about.  Now that is business success!

So what can we learn from SouthWest Airlines both personally and professionally?  A lot.  It starts with looking carefully at who we really are & how we want to be know (first impressions, reputation & legacy); the unique value we want to bring to others; who we want to be engaged with and then finally being able to communicate that value to them.  The overall result is an authentic personal brand profile that is in alignment with you in this time of your life

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What Do People Hear? 7 Tips to Say It

It’s not what we say but rather what people hear.  And I love this picture for showing us the power of non-verbal communication.  Both this little girl and delightful dog are communicating with not a word between them.  But they know what they both are saying . . . “I see you and I care about you”.

What people hear – not the words said – is what makes communication so challenging.  How often we find ourselves saying “But I told him!”  And then he says “But that’s not what I heard!”  Sounds familiar?!  But how do we fine-tune those communication skills?

So here’s the answer . . . use language (verbal or non-verbal) that accurately conveys what you want the other person to hear and understand.  Sounds simple but it actually takes self-awareness, empathy and on-going practice to develop these strong and effective communication skills.  The benefit? You will find that you will be less stressed, more focused and able to minimize unnecessary work when interpersonal communication is flowing smoothly.

7 Tips to Use Your Words More Effectively

Here are some ideas that I introduce in my communication workshops that can work very well for structuring positive, powerful communication.  Now go ahead and  add your own – you have learned and know what works best for you.

  1. Use Phrases That Subtly Open Up Options
  2. Use Phrases That Emphasize Commonality
  3. Use the Word “We” Rather Than “You”
  4. Chose Words That Normalize Issues & Concerns
  5. Avoid Phrases That Escalate or Dramatize the Issue
  6. Avoid Phrases That Back Someone in the Corner
  7. Watch Yourself:  Be Aware of Automatic Thoughts & Distorted Thinking

And More Ideas . . . 

Here is the icing on the cake . . . time proven tips that participants in my recent workshop “Communication That Builds Bridges” sent me just last week.

  • Always start with a smile
  • Use “and” instead of “but”
  • Look for the right time and place to talk
  • Know your desired outcome
  • Appreciate the other person’s perspective & opinion
  • Always use professional courtesy (please & thank you)
  • Slow Down!

Bottom line is taking the time to think before you speak; while you’re speaking and after you speak.  Let me know how it is working for you and how I can help you fine tune these valuable professional skills.

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Dogs Sit in the Front Row of Life

I had to look twice!  It was early evening on a beautiful warm night in Greece.  And here are two doggie pals sitting together on the tin roof of a house along the main street of Amadaoli, Crete. Would they slide off?  Nope.

They were perfectly content to watch the action down below on the street and when something really exciting happened (like their Greek Orthodox priest owner coming home) they would dash down to the first floor barking wildly to greet him.  After taking care of that task, they would scurry back up to the roof to take their front row seat again and resume watching the tourists, party-goers and Global Volunteers (that’s us) returning home from our day of work.  It was the best seat in the house – they didn’t miss anything and were right in the middle of the action.  Why don’t we all do that?

It’s Simply a Habit – Hiding in the Back Row

Every evening they were there . . . and I had to think they certainly had the right idea.  They were positioning themselves to be right in on the action.  Sitting in the front seat of life not hiding in the back row.  How often do we figuratively sit in the back and avoid being front and center.  We find lots of reasons to do that . . . it’s our personality; the situation isn’t right; it’s too risky, etc.  But it’s actually simply habit.  We simply go to that comfort zone and default to pushing the “No, I don’t think so” button over and over again.

But what does that get us?  Not very far and probably a bit bored.  Yes, it’s comfortable and there are no surprises.  And that’s the problem . . . it’s very, very comfortable and there are no changes, challenges or opportunities to stretch our wings.

How’s It Working For You? 

Sitting in the back row of life may have worked just fine for you over these last few years.  But is it working now?  Is it getting you to where you want to be next?  For many of us, that answer would probably be no.  So I encourage you to move up a row or two – stretch that comfort zone until you’re sitting in the front seat of life like the doggie pals sitting on the roof.  And I bet they are still there too!

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Push That “Yes” Button!

It was a small boat in a small town on the eastern shore of Crete. The winds were up and the water was rough. The regular tourist boats were closed due to the May 1st holiday but our taxi cab driver (in a pink tie & driving a Mercedes) had a “friend” who had a boat to ferry people out to the famous island of Spinalogue, an old leper colony and one time prison.

Did we want to go?  My adventurous twin sister, Diane, said “of course” as I was still contemplating a cappuccino in a cozy tavern on the shore.  But that’s Diane . . . she has always been the one to push the “Yes” button before me.  And I’m so glad she does! We’ve had the best experiences over the years including on this special holiday seeing this piece of history from the sparkling blue waters off Crete.

One of our wonderful Canadian team members, Sheila Davis, embraced this idea and became our inspiration.  She is more fun, full of life and certainly is willing to say “yes” to anything anywhere.  I’ll travel with her anytime!

Saying “No” Becomes a Boring Habit

It’s interesting how easy it is to get in the habit of just saying “No” to new things especially when they change up our normal daily routines or stretch our cozy comfort zones.  We are quick to think of why it’s not a good idea . . . and much slower to think why it may be a good (even great) idea.  It actually becomes a habit – saying no before we even really think about it.

But what does that kind of automatic response do for us?  Not much.  Sure, life rolls on very safe, comfortable and (dare I say) a tad bit boring.  And we can find ourselves saying afterwards “Gee, I wish I had done that”.  But we can if we get out of our own way and let those adventures in.

Building Your Resiliency Skills & Your Career

Challenging yourself to stretch, grow and learn benefits not only you personally (you’re much more interesting) but also your career.  By using those adaptive, change muscles regularly you will be pleasantly surprised how much more resilient you are during times of significant change.  You have that inner confidence and knowledge that you can be flexible, creative and adaptable.  It actually very empowering – a real boost.

Make “Yes” Your Default Button 

So my challenge to you is to make “Yes” your default button.  Yes, default to yes as often as you can.  It will take some practice to say “yes” first to new opportunities unless you can think of some really good reasons to say “no”.  Now I’m not saying to do anything so wild and crazy that it’s foolish or unsafe.  I’m talking about just adding a bit of spice and adventure to your life.  Let me know how you do and then we can plan our next great adventure!

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Working in Greece & Opening Doors

I’m back!  It was a fabulous 3 week adventure in Greece working for Global Volunteers on the island of Crete.  My twin sister, Diane, and three other wonderful women from Canada, Kathleen Close; Sandra Close and Sheila Davis made up our volunteer team under the wise leadership of Sam Pinakoulaki, our country host.  We called ourselves “Sam’s Chippy Chicks” and what fun we had!  The wine was flowing; the food was terrific; the sun was hot; the  buses were crowded and the laughs were endless.


Greek Hospitality is the Best! 

One of the best parts of the trip was living in the family hotel, Hotel Hankadas, and becoming part of the Greek extended family that gathers there every morning, afternoon and evening to talk, watch the political news, eat, work in the vineyards around the hotel and share a glass of wine with us at the end of the night.

We loved Paul who runs the hotel with his two sisters, Irene & Suzanne and his wife, Catherine.  There are also lots of other community people in and out including several traveling salesmen who sell linens out of their trucks up in the villages.


Our Work in Greece – Opening Doors for Future Volunteers

We were the 87th Global Volunteer team (and the first for 2012) to work in this small community, Amoudara, just outside of Heraklion in Crete. Our work assignment changed upon our arrival – from working each day in a local school teaching English to more community outreach and liaison work.  As one door closed another opened!

We were honored to be invited to work in a battered women’s safe house planting a garden and cleaning the house for the residents.  There are only two battered women’s shelters in the entire country!  In addition, we represented Global Volunteers at their monthly Board Meeting meeting networking with many of Heraklion’s most influential women activists – from age 80 to 20.  Our hope is that future teams will be allowed to work with the shelter especially in supporting the organization’s future children’s orphanage “House of Angels”.

We also learned that “volunteerism” is a very new concept in Greece.  We had a chance to meet with a newly formed group of women volunteers through a special invitation by the Vice-Mayor of Gazi.  In the local government chambers we participated in a joint meeting sharing our visions and commitment to volunteerism in all communities.  It didn’t matter that we spoke different languages – smiles & laughs communicated all that we need.

Over the next few days, we were invited to participate in a larger women’s meeting at the local Chamber of Commerce and then to visit a local kindergarten for young children of working parents.  The weeks ended with a phenomenal trip up to the mountains to visit Saint Spiro’s center for mentally delayed adults (more on that later!).

I have many funny stories and wonderful lessons learned.  I’ll share many of those over the next few weeks.  And if you see me packing my backpack again you know where I’m going . . . to Hotel Hankadas!

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