Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Master Of Her Domain

Jenny Severson is talented.

She has a genuine, intelligent quality about her that I have seen since we first met, working together at a SuperCamp program in Illinois back in 1994. Since then, she has developed into a sought after educational presenter and consultant.

Last week I had the chance to hear her present information on group and personal motivation, which was a treat-and-a-half because she is so well read and does her homework (versus typical motivational speaker syndrome).

Key points I took away both during and after thinking about her presentation:
  1. Motivation is increased by surrounding oneself with people who give us an emotional jolt
  2. Some people have an incorrect mentality of: 'The beatings will stop when the morale improves', that decreases motivation
  3. Principles: level one is to know them; level two is to do them, level three is to be them
  4. It can be good to feel regret over decisions made - this can motivate us to want to improve
I also took away some observations on great presenting, like the value of having a repertoire of stories and the ability to tell them in varying lengths of available time. When a person deeply understands Beginnings, Middles, and Ends of communication, they better know how to engage and end conversation markers on emotional upswings, for example. They can also generate and quickly 'grab' examples from their mind that relate and support the conversation at hand.

Also, Jenny treats her time with the audience as time within a bigger picture, not time about her. She related her dialogue and points to points made earlier by other speakers and audience members - not toss off relations, but meaningful, thoughtful ones. This is an advanced move, as beginners are naturally too focused on themselves to go outside their own head much.

When I listen to and watch a truly masterful public communicator, it focuses my thoughts, letting me think and dwell on a topic in a more organized fashion, going along for a ride with someone who brings freshness and life to it.

Thanks, Jenny.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I believe courageous people know how to set boundaries with their work. Their self-esteem is not so wrapped up in the number of hours they work or their job title, but rather in their balance of family, friends, personal endeavors (physical, artistic, or intellectual activities that fill up one's soul), and work. This has recently become more clear to me as I navigated some changes in my career.

Consciously leaving the office after nine hours most days is hard, because I get engaged in what I am doing. Work is a fun, complex game, and I love games. But I need to remember to spend time away. Even though I love it, the intensity has burnt me out when I don't stay aware of myself and others in my life, regulating my time and energy.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Youth Is Wasted On The Young

I recently heard that quote. I had a reaction to it. It rings as a frightening idea, stopping me for a moment from thinking about what I am gaining as I get older and causing me to consider what I am losing. There is a sense of sadness in the quote. Like that line from the movie Straight Story, when the old man says, "I guess the worst part about being old is remembering when you were young."

I am pretty sure that is the scariest part for me - accepting mortality. I am working toward things that are so meaningful to me, such great fun, making things better in my life and work, and I know I will lose it all.

I feel a need for frantic pacing. And I feel impatient when people don't have that same fire to get things going.

And I am inspired by people who have the fire. I just saw former astronaut Jim Lovell in an interview. He said people who have "the right stuff" are people who love to work by objectives and not just a 9 to 5 job. Basically, you really have to love what you do so much that it is not so painful to spend huge chunks of time working. The word "work" has different emotions attached to it for different people.