You Matter - The Power of Thanks

The Power of a Sincere Thank You

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holiday rush upon us, things seem to be moving quite fast, don’t they? So much to do, so many people to see — lots of year-end things to take care of at work and at home…. 

In hectic times, it’s even more important to slow down, observe, and give thanks. When things are moving fast at home or it’s crunch time at work, the people you lead are also feeling the pressure. In fact, they are likely going the extra mile just like you to keep it together and avoid dropping one of the balls they have in the air.

Saying thank you, a sincere thank you, is a simple and powerful way to lift spirits, motivate, and empower. Look for opportunities to say it this holiday season — especially when you can say it with eye contact (or with a handwritten note) and back it up with the “why” behind your sentiments.

Don’t get me wrong, an email or text message that gives thanks is better than nothing. How about a thank you that comes with a smile and some supporting facts as to why what someone did made a difference to you? Now that’s a real gift.

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Invest in yourself. Do it today.

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot

I always tell people that it’s amazing what you can accomplish by devoting 15 to 20 minutes per day to something that matters to you. That’s how I started most of the things that have defined my career, including Imbue.

The title of this post is inspired by the musical Hamilton, which I recently saw in New York City. The music, the lyrics, the acting, and the visual experience of the show are so masterfully intertwined that you can’t help but be enthralled with it all. I kept thinking about the time and talent it took to create it. Yet, it had to start somewhere. 

Early in the show, Alexander Hamilton sings a rousing song called My Shot. The lyrics begin with Hamilton passionately repeating the phrase, “I am not throwing away my shot” and the song ends with the cast driving home the point that you need to rise up and take a shot, your shot — the one only you can take. It made me think of my own experience and the rewards that have come from taking risks, sharing my unique perspective openly and honestly, and generally taking responsibility for (and control of) my future. 

Don’t throw away your shot, and even more importantly, don’t limit yourself to just one. Start tomorrow and make time to invest in yourself, your ideas, and your passions. Do it every day. The payoff may not come quickly, but I assure you the time spent will be worth it. 

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Give the Gift of Your Attention

Give It. Get It.

We are bombarded with messages every day from brands, employers, clients, friends, and family members. With so much coming our way through our screens, it’s understandable that we begin to tune out the noise—anything that we don’t deem worthy of our attention. Yet attention is what you need when you want to teach, motive, or persuade.

But you won’t earn anyone’s full attention if you’re not willing to give them yours.

Here are 6 tips to help:

  1. Demonstrate your commitment to being present and in the moment by giving your full attention to others.
  2. Expect the attention of others in return, and kindly ask for it if you’re not getting it. A simple, “Let’s all focus on the task at hand without interruption” should send the message.
  3. Listen more and speak less.
  4. Listen to what’s not being said.
  5. Be open to a different perspective.
  6. Be clear, concise, direct, and kind in your responses.

Anything else we should add to this list? Tell me in the comments.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

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Time to Kill The Elevator Pitch

It’s Time to Kill the Elevator Pitch

I’ve probably written or refined more than 200 elevator pitches over the years—you know, the short blurb that you’re supposed to memorize and be ready to spew out in the time that it takes to impress a prospect during an elevator ride.

The concept behind the elevator pitch makes sense. You need to be able to tell someone about your product, service, or organization quickly and clearly. And yes, you need to be prepared to do so. 

However, when you stop thinking about “pitching” and start thinking of it as sharing or educating, you can turn a dry, planned pitch into something much more useful: a conversation. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Think about who you help and how you help them. Then write down several short statements about how you solve their problems or make a difference. These will become what I call your “library of nuggets.” Some examples: “I help people overcome their fear of public speaking.” Or “Our app helps people create secure passwords and use them conveniently on all of their devices.” Be sure to include a few nuggets about why your solution is better than others.
  2. When you meet a prospect, find out who they are before you tell them about yourself. This will not only make you more approachable (you’re showing them that you care about who they are and what they do), it will also allow you to steer the conversation in a way where you can connect with them and start a meaningful conversation.
  3. Once you know who they are and what their world looks like, pull from your library of nuggets to tailor your conversation to their specific perspective and needs.
  4. Try to start with a question that you think they will be able to answer easily, which will let you include them in the story you’re about to tell.

Here’s an example:

Hi, I’m Thomas. What’s your name?

I’m Dana.

Nice to met you, Dana. What do you do?

I’m in commercial banking. How about you?

Well, in banking I’m sure you know how people have so many passwords to remember these days, but they don’t always use secure ones. 

Yes, it’s a problem. I have too many passwords to remember myself!

Right, and most people use the same insecure password for a lot of their accounts. That’s not good. But it’s impossible to keep track of multiple passwords that are secure. My company created an app that creates and keeps track of all of the different passwords you need and makes it really easy to call them up when you need them. 

That sounds great. What’s the name of the app?

And here’s another example that I used the other day:

Hi, I’m Michael.

Hi, I’m Andrew. What does your company do?

Do you know anyone in marketing at your company?

I’m in HR, but I talk with our marketing director Connie a lot. She really has a lot on her plate.

Yes, solo or small marketing teams are usually stretched pretty thin. We actually work with a lot of in-house marketing directors who have some really good plans in place, but they don’t have the writers, designers, and digital marketers on staff to get everything done that needs to get done. My team helps them with that.

Wow, I think Connie needs to talk to you.

I’d love to speak with her. Some of our clients just need a really good creative team to help execute the plan that is already in place, and some need our strategic guidance to guide or expand their plan. No matter what Connie’s situation is, I’m sure we can find a way to help.


Not every introductory conversation will be the same, and that’s the point. An elevator pitch is written for one person, you. Real connections require more. Give them the courtesy of a conversation—just be ready with your library of nuggets so you feel prepared to tailor the conversation for each individual.

Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash
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Tips for Being Heard at Work

Be Heard

When we feel we aren’t being heard, a common reaction is to talk louder. Or interrupt. And if you’re an introvert, you might lean the other way and keep your comments to yourself instead of trying to share them with those who need to hear them. 

Your voice counts. Considering how your brain operates in certain situations as well as how the specific people you communicate with listen and process information will help you be heard, and more importantly, understood. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Let kindness lead the way. You can never go wrong by being kind, and doing so diffuses tension and helps others avoid feeling defensive. Even in the most difficult conversations, when you show the other person that you care, you make your communications more tailored to their needs—and more effective. 
  2. Read the room. If you have experience with the people in the room, you likely know how they operate. Some may just want the facts quickly while some may like to dive in deep and understand the background. Whenever possible, try to tailor your communications to the needs of the people in the room and give them what they need to be able to connect with, and understand, you.
  3. Listen now and speak later. If you can’t formulate the right response on the fly, give yourself the time you need to process everything and craft a response that you can feel good about. You can always have a second conversation later when you’ve gathered your thoughts, or send a follow-up message with your response after the heat of the moment has passed.
  4. Don’t hide or procrastinate. It’s easy to hide behind emails or text communication because you can lob your thoughts over the fence to get it off your shoulders/mind/plate and plop it in their court. Consider when you need a call, videoconference, or meeting to discuss a topic, move something forward right away, or put an issue to bed. 
  5. A good visual can make all the difference. Some people need a visual aid to help them grasp a concept. Consider when a topic might benefit from something people can see to help them connect the dots. This can be something you prepare beforehand, or a quick sketch you create on a whiteboard to help people grasp the idea.
  6. Sometimes you just can’t beat a blowhard. There are people who need to hear themselves talk and refuse to listen. Don’t try to win. Instead, figure out how you can slowly persuade them over the longer term. Share your perspective but don’t expect to convince them to agree with you today.
  7. Let others be heard. Listening is probably the most powerful tool you have in your communications toolbox. Everyone wants to feel that their voice matters. 

And don’t forget, most people never get thanked for the good work they do—and it means a lot when they do. Thank people for contributing and validate when you hear something that contributes to the conversation.

What else should we add to this list?

Photo by Headway on Unsplash
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Too Many Emails from Brands

You Could Have Kept Me if you Gave Me a Choice

There are many companies that I like to hear from through email. I like a good deal, and want to know about upcoming sales. I also like to stay in the loop on new technology, and trends in the world of branding, marketing, and communications. However, most brands don’t let me control the amount of content they send to me.

That’s a shame, because I often want to stay in touch. But I get too much email at home and at work, and I’m tired of weeding through the marketing emails in order to get to the messages that truly need my attention. Retail brands are especially aggressive in this regard — does anyone really want a daily marketing email from a company they just bought something from?

So, unless you give me the opportunity to limit the amount of email you send me, I’ll unsubscribe. The brands that give me the option to reduce the frequency of communications as part of the unsubscribe process usually keep me as a subscriber. Those that don’t lose me forever.

If you’re a marketer, consider the power of choice and give it to your subscribers. You’ll keep more of them engaged over the long term.

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Brand Messages Need to be Focused

Don’t Be Afraid of Focus

Focus is sometimes scary because it means potentially missing out on something else. 

But if you’re not focused, you won’t connect with the human beings you want to connect with on the level that makes you engaging and credible. This is true in business and life in general. 

Think about it. When you’re distracted, you can’t participate fully in the task at hand, whether it be a conversation with a loved one, or a personal project you’re working on by yourself. 

In business, when you’re distracted, the noise you create makes your messages unclear. Clients and customers won’t spend much time figuring out if you’re the right fit for them. You need to tell them clearly and quickly.

I’m not saying that we can’t be visionary, entrepreneurial, or open to new opportunities. Just be sure that your communications with colleagues, prospects, and customers are focused and tailored to the human beings receiving them.

Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash
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Parents are a Model of Leadership

Parents and Leaders

I was recently asked a simple question by a colleague: “Who do you admire?”

Wow, what a loaded question. I admire many, many people—they are mentors, good friends, and talented colleagues. I also admire several artists, musicians, writers, athletes, and educators. The people I admire most are those I find talented, honest, kind, and giving. I also admire people who have the courage to lead, whether they are the type that does it quietly or the kind that enjoys the spotlight.

But when I think about who I admire most, it’s probably parents. I don’t have children myself, but when I look at parents today and consider the magnitude of the task of raising children in a world that seems to be moving faster than they can possibly keep up with, I have to give them kudos for being the leaders that they are.

Parents love through the times when those they lead are the most unlovable, guide their children to do what’s right even when it’s not easy, and sacrifice their needs for the health and success of the family. They show up every day, teach and train, troubleshoot, motivate, and lead by example. 

A good business leader shares a lot of traits with a good parent, don’t you think?

And while there are some essential things that make a good parent, everyone finds their own unique way to perform the role. Just like the best leaders.

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash
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Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

I love shopping with Zappos. They make it easy and fun to shop with them, and very easy to return things (which is important when I buy shoes because I have oddball-sized feet).

And their packaging sends me messages that make me want to give them more business.

“Build open and honest relationships with communication.”

Agreed.

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Listening to Nonverbal Communication

Listening With Your Eyes

What’s not said is sometimes more powerful than what is said. Some experts even suggest that nonverbal communication represents nearly two thirds of all communications. That’s a lot of messages that are largely available to your eyes (not to mention your other 4 senses).

That’s why I prefer to meet with people in person or through videoconference whenever possible. I am more effective at listening when I can see the people I’m speaking with. Their nonverbal communications give me much more insight into what I’m hearing and I can read more deeply into what is being said — which often gives me a better sense of where it’s coming from. And when I can see how they are reacting to what I’m saying, I can tailor my communications in real time to connect with them on a deeper level.

Speaking of being face to face with other people in real time, studies show that during social interactions people’s movements tend to become coordinated, which enhances rapport and fosters cooperation. Research also suggests that this “nonverbal synchrony” makes people more likely to successfully pursue joint goals. Interesting, right?

Think about a recent conversation you’ve had with someone through emails or text messages where the outcome wasn’t what you wanted or expected. Then think about how that conversation would have been different if you could have heard the other person’s voice or seen his or her facial expressions and body language.

Considering the value of nonverbal communication going forward will help you determine when a face-to-face meeting is in your favor.

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
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