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Post from Transformation Tom: Understand that Success is Possible – Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-Speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - August 19, 2019 - News
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Here’s a phrase I teach often: “It is not bragging if it is a fact.” The fact that it took me over twenty years in the workforce to have someone provide, on record (written in my annual performance appraisal), a positive comment about my communication skills gives me the right and obligation to stand on the mountaintop screaming that I’m gaining the skills and confidence to be an effective communicator. You will learn that a person conveying a message does not automatically have the respect and trust of the audience. It must be earned. Part of earning this trust and respect is building credibility with that audience. My intention in this chapter is to build my credibility with you, the audience, by sharing information that will enable you to get to know me and understand who I am as a communicator and leader.

I went to the University of Delaware. On my first day of freshman orientation, I was told I needed to choose a major and “undecided” was not one of the options. My major could change over time, they said, but I had to at least commit to something. I like to say that I picked my major alphabetically. There was no money in Anthropology, so that was out. I never like dissecting a frog, so Biology was not an option. Everyone was in Business, and I wanted to be a little different, so I chose Communication. It didn’t hurt that the female-to-male ratio was rumored to be forty to one (the truth was closer to twenty to one, but it didn’t seem to help my love life in college, anyway).

Being a painfully shy and introverted individual had the potential to hold me back personally and professionally. I had to take action for myself if I wanted any success in the real world. I was given an early lesson, by being told I had to select a major. I was being forced to take action if I wanted to develop myself. I luckily selected a major that would become a focal point for the rest of my life as I struggled to grasp, improve, and finally sharpen my communication. I am thankful for the choice, even if it still took many more years to gain the confidence to become a master.

My specialty in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication taught me the importance of personal interaction. Both in society and at work, success comes to those who communicate effectively. I had a drive to succeed and saw spurts of success; however, I didn’t see the success at the speed I would have wanted. The delayed success was due to my inability to sharpen the skills I had and develop the ones bursting to come out.

I could put two sentences together; in fact, I could put two, three, or eighteen sentences together without a breath. As an introvert, I found that I tried to say everything necessary as quickly as possible in the hope that I would be done as soon as possible. Needless to say, I lacked key communication skills, like knowing the audience or learning to be clear. Having a communication degree did not in itself make me an effective communicator.

After college, my early professional successes were inconsistent. I started on the phones in a collections call center. My shyness was not going away, and I felt it would be better if I didn’t have to interact face to face. Except, somewhere, I must have forgotten about the daily interactions with my peers and management. Performance-wise, I achieved decent results and my confidence increased with my ability to speak to customers I didn’t have to see. My ability to confidently speak face-to-face to my peers and management team, however, was awkward at best. As long as my numbers spoke for me, I didn’t think I needed anything else.

My results did speak for themselves enough to land me a management position, in which I was responsible for leading people who worked on the phones. This was the beginning of a roller coaster ride in success. My inability to effectively connect with people who worked for me and for whom I worked left my confidence shot. I couldn’t assertively communicate, let alone give my team the assurance that they were in good hands. Unfortunately, my drive to succeed far outweighed my ability to target specific opportunities. Every time I was knocked down, I worked twice as hard to get back up. I was demoted twice in my corporate life and changed positions often.  Sometimes, the frequent positions changes were because I was wanted for my knowledge or skillset, while other times because the company needed to move me on because of my derailing behavior. I was a hard worker, but did not always work smart.

What I didn’t realize early on was that I needed a career coach. Objective people were ready to give me advice, but I was not proactive enough to ask for it and I was too defensive to accept it. My introverted behavior did not let enough people get to know the true me. They saw only the surface me. I was a hard driven, dedicated individual who had trouble sending and receiving messages. My overall success was stagnating and possibly moving in the wrong direction.

I have now worked at one of the largest financial institutions in the United States for over twenty years. I have been in a variety of roles, ranging from people management to administration, and just about everything else in between. Within the last six years, my company was bought, faced the global recession, and an announcement of significant future job cuts. Considering how internally focused I was, it took me far too long to realize that I had to be my own career coach. I learned that career effectiveness and professional development came through a proactive approach and a desire to improve. With the potential ramifications of the macroeconomics swirling around me, I started to realize that I had no choice. I needed help.

Once the choice was made to take a more proactive approach to improve myself, I significantly improved my ability to communicate up, to communicate down, and to communicate to peers and business partners. Confidence was gained in my ability to network, with that self-confidence bubbling over in my presentation skills. I was beginning to take an active leadership approach, which in turn made a difference in the businesses I oversaw and interacted with.

Action had to be taken so I was not left behind. I didn’t want to hide and hope when key employment decisions were made. I wanted to do more than survive; I wanted to thrive. My communication skills were my Achilles heel, and I needed to fix them. You many not believe the extent of my opportunities, so I thought I would share some examples of communication-specific quotes directly from more than twenty years of my performance appraisals:

“Tom needs to be more concise with his communication style. He needs to ensure he understands his audience and his ability to adapt based on who he is interacting with.”

“[Tom needs to] ask questions to ensure a full understanding.”

“Position ideas with your audience in mind…need to be more confident in presentations to senior management; don’t second guess-self.”

“Avoid shutting down when others don’t agree with you.”

There were far too many years of running on a treadmill of feedback without jumping at my main opportunities: communication, leadership, and confidence. These are the skills needed most in the business world! Maybe my problem was that I didn’t always believe the feedback; as a communication major, I believed the skills were already there. Maybe the skills were simply being overlooked somehow or not accurately being assessed.

It finally began to sink in that I would never advance—or that my job might actually be on the line—if I didn’t take steps to improve. I still took the slow train to improvement; but at least I got onboard. The theme: I had to finally cross a threshold and break myself out of my comfort zone; I needed to get past my trepidation. Baby steps were taken toward the process of improvement, but at least I was moving in the right direction. Even with a slow process, there was momentum. Once I saw my actions begin to generate praise and increased responsibility, I went on a mission to proactively grasp the most effective ways to improve my communication and leadership skills. Although no two paths are the same for any individual, I thought I would share the actions taken that made a difference in my career.

  • I found some trusted mentors.
  • I became a mentor (shockingly, teaching others reinforced what I needed myself).
  • I started a networking routine to meet with senior leaders I didn’t know.
  • I gained courage and forced myself to ask key development questions in one-on-one settings and group settings. I began asking anyone and everyone, “What can I do to improve?” After some hesitation and surprise at the question, people were more than willing to share their thoughts and appreciated that I was asking. It seemed as if my mistakes were almost a side note to the main discussion, since people knew I was giving the maximum effort to make myself stronger.
  • When feedback was provided, I always followed-up with, “How?” If someone tells you to be faster, more efficient, more effective, etc., you are still not being given the direction needed to improve. You have to ask, “How?”
  • I joined Toastmasters.
  • I stopped worrying about what people thought of me and started paying more attention to just getting the job done. I put effort into developing the skills needed to gain trust and respect for the work I was doing (the rest would take care of itself).
  • After more than twenty years, I finally saw in writing the following comment: “Tom’s organizational and communication skills are his key strengths.”

This was the first time I didn’t read that I needed to improve something in my communication. The biggest change was my confidence. I was also learning the importance of two-way dialogue. Although still introverted, I was beginning to understand the power of building strong relationships, a skill I would that needs to always be honed and will always work for you.

I want to share a story of how a little action can turn into a big success. After joining Toastmasters, I began working through the various certifications in communication and leadership. My managers at work became aware of the certifications and started to recognize me. The word slowly spread to groups of people who didn’t know me. When they did get to know me, it was as “an effective communicator.” My past communication gaps were being left behind. In social settings where I had previously kept quiet, I now threw in a couple of conversation starters about my public-speaking endeavors. These conversations led to strong friendships and beneficial networking. I was even getting invitations outside my company to speak to other organizations.

Word continued to spread within my corporate environment. I was tapped on the shoulder at a meeting of local managers and my peer asked me to meet with her newer managers about effective communication. It was hard to imagine! The person told far too many times that he needed to improve his communication skills was being asked to teach others how to communicate. I was in heaven. People started to listen to me. They actually sought my advice and messages because I could confidently convey them in a way that was easily understood and relate to them to the audience. I shared my mistakes and showed them that they, too, could persevere and succeed. I was gaining credibility from a group of people who saw my own growth and through that recognized that they, too, could improve.

My informal professional-development series was getting attention. Another manager in a different department asked if I could formalize the event and speak to his group of managers monthly. These sessions were a hit, and they morphed into topics that people could pragmatically develop and use for their own individual development: writing résumés, networking, organizing, managing time, managing different generations, interviewing, and, of course, overcoming fear of public speaking. The series then made me eligible for the National Speakers Association (NSA).

A month after getting into the NSA, I was selected as the 2010-11 District 45 Toastmaster of the Year. I was pleasantly surprised and humbled to see that my work was starting to pay off not just for myself, but for others. It was an honor to be selected to represent my district, knowing that there are only eighty-one Toastmaster Districts in the world (representing over 270,000 members). I felt like I was living the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. As the author Laura Joffe Numeroff writes, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for some milk. When you give him some milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.” The story continues with constant add-ons.  In my case, I was finding ways to succeed that fed the motivation to want more. This painfully shy and introverted individual was making a name for himself in the field of public speaking.

As a teacher and mentor, not only was I improving other people’s careers, I was improving my own, because I had to practice what I preached. More importantly, I was managing my time effectively, building a strong network, and constantly finding ways to improve. I was making a difference to others and making myself stronger. All of this happened because I finally took action to improve my communication skills and gain confidence in my abilities—something that required more than just a simple leap of faith.

In order to set myself on this road initially, I knew I needed to take action to increase my confidence. I knew I needed Toastmasters. I even lied to myself that the only reason I was joining was to kick-start a dormant corporate club on my company campus that had not met in over a year. My original thoughts were simply to build up my résumé. I had no idea how it would change my life after I joined in September 2008. The people I have met over the years through that organization provided encouragement and support to participate in speech contests. I moved from an unofficial club consultant to the Vice President of Education. Our club, Dirigo (“I Lead”) Toastmasters, went from never holding a meeting in over a year to being well respected within District 45, which includes over one hundred clubs within Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. I now hold advanced communication and advanced leadership certifications with the organization, including a High Performance Leadership (HPL) certification for writing my first book based on the professional development series. My successes seemed to be never ending, simply because I stared my fears in the face and won.

The contests have always tested my will to break down the constant trepidation and angst of being in front of a large group of people. I may never get rid of these feelings entirely, but the shakes, sweats, and heat rushing up from my neck to my ears are no longer the first and only feelings I get. I am now full of energy and excitement to share my messages and stories with the audience.

I found consistent success when competing in speech contests, which only pushed me to go further. I have entered all types of contests to broaden my skill set and to continue to test my comfort zone specific to humorous speeches, inspirational speeches, impromptu speeches, and speech evaluations. I have been fortunate enough to represent the state of Maine on multiple occasions in these contests.

I may need to change the word “consistent.” Actually, I have found inconsistency as the pressure has tightened at the higher levels. I have forgotten words in competition, frozen on stage because I could not remember the first line of my speech, and even repeated lines when I had a shot at advancing to the Toastmasters International World Semi-finals. I have presented with an actual jackhammer behind me and watched in horror as props were knocked over. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A speech will never be perfect and I was learning to keep moving forward after I made mistakes. More importantly, I had to identify the next actions needed for me to improve the next time. I was growing as a speaker when I actively sought to be better.  I took on a mentor after my first taste of the bigger stage when I went to the Toastmasters District 45 International Finals in May 2009, one who has reached the World Semi-finals twice (and advanced to the World Finals once). His advice as a formal mentor and fellow competitor forced me to develop.  I have even changed my practice routines: where I previously ensured that the house was dead quiet before practicing, I now can’t wait for my kids’ piano rehearsals to start. I also invite the howling dog into the room so I have distractions while I refine my skills. The goal is to strive for perfection and grow from the experience. No speech experience will ever be the same, but we should always strive to make it the best it can be.

The premise of this book is not to turn every reader into a professional speaker. The business of professional speaking is an art that needs constant nurturing. However, simple effective communication needs the same cultivation. Everyday skills that can be practiced and refined will turn an ordinary interaction into an extraordinary experience. Your enjoyment and success will skyrocket, along with your confidence level. I am not on the road each day pounding the pavement looking for speaking gigs. I have a day job. However, after years of toiling with being average and inconsistent, I have taken actions needed to succeed.

I’m not the most charismatic person. However, I am now building a strong name for myself because I am learning to relate to people with a message they want to hear. More importantly, I am proud of my ability to finally do something that needed to be done years before. My simple message will resonate with any audience at the core of their thoughts and beliefs.

  1. Effective public speaking is more about confidence than communication skills.
  2. Public speaking is more than a lectern, podium, or microphone; it is everywhere.
  3. The ability to speak publicly is not as hard as you may imagine— the hardest part is taking the first steps.
  4. Public speaking is a learned skill that must continually be developed.
  5. Your own success, both personal and professional, is correlated to your ability to communicate effectively.

As an audience member listening to presentations for years, I feel qualified to recognize what people want to hear. You should, too. As a public speaker, I have always had a clear vision for what I wanted, but often avoided the situation or taking the actions necessary to improve. I have found confidence and success on the other side of the podium. I know that I now have the skills and self-belief necessary to provide what the audience wants and needs. You too have a strong message inside you right now that is ready to come out. If I can make a difference by transforming my fear into success, you can, too.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom: Tame the Beast- Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-Speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - August 12, 2019 - News
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I just finished a speech for the local Rotary Club. I confidently explained that a few years before, I would have had difficulty presenting to them. As a communication major with over twenty years in the corporate world, communicating face-to-face or presenting in front of multiple people created far too many anxious moments in my life that I’ve repressed from my memory. My experience and background may make some non-believers say that it couldn’t have been that bad. I must emphasize that it was that bad. I’ve been demoted twice in my career and was told that I would never reach senior management because I was never seen in the role. Yet, I can confidently tell you that I have never been happier or more satisfied personally or professionally. In the midst of a down-turned economy, I’ve had more raises, promotions, and increases in job responsibility then I could ever have imagined. I am doing things I never dreamed of, including writing two books and being part of the National Speakers Association (NSA). I give much of the credit to my transformation to my increased confidence level. Learning to get over my stage fright saved my career and created an abundant amount of new opportunities to succeed.

Most people want to improve themselves, including a countless many that have a targeted desire to improve their public-speaking skills. The most difficult part is crossing over the threshold from change-thinking to change-actions. As an example, just look at the countless New Year’s resolutions broken immediately after we announce we want to improve ourselves. What I want to provide is a guide to ensure you stay on the right track toward achieving your goals.

Have you ever been lost while driving without having an accessible map or GPS? We have an instant panic attack about what we need to do. The anxiety builds up more with each wrong turn. We lose our ability to think clearly and make rational thoughts. The exact same feeling occurs when we approach the podium to give a speech. Our mind plays tricks on us, which impacts our body. What if you could control if not even block these feelings, so you are able to clearly and confidently articulate your points?

I have seen people with normally rampant stage fright who have given amazing eulogies. I found it interesting that these individuals were so caught up in the anguish of death that they forgot, even if for a small moment, that they were supposed to be scared to be in front of a large audience. The thought of the death instantly jumped them to the last stages of what experienced speakers are taught: it’s not about you; it’s about them, the audience. The frightened thoughts are substituted for ones of passion and love for the deceased. With regular public speaking, you can take actions that will allow you to give rousing speeches and presentations that you once thought were never possible.

As a general rule of thumb, our minds are often numb to the potential triumph because we are too occupied with the heart-stopping anticipation of what is in front of us. What if you could be trained to think about the endgame and the potential success? It is possible. This book will cover many ways to identify the varying symptoms that often come with the pending act of public speaking. The symptoms are driven by deep-seated causes that we may not even fully understand about ourselves, yet. When you fully recognize the correlation between the onsets of symptoms with the ability to control your thoughts, you will see exponentially greater success, and get a deeper understanding of your own potential.

This practical guide provides examples and techniques that will make it real for you. It will show you that speakers of all levels of experience and anxiety will be capable to retrain their hearts and minds one tip at a time. The ultimate goal is to control the symptoms, and more importantly use them to your advantage to relate to any audience. Here are just some examples as to why we get anxious when we think about speaking in public:

  • Uncomfortable situation
  • New environment
  • Potential failure
  • Possible embarrassment
  • Fear of boring the audience
  • Inexperience
  • Anticipation buildup

Each of these examples can create the symptoms we fear: dizzy head, heart pounding, shaking, sweating, shallow breathing, and that sick feeling in our stomachs. These symptoms most likely will never go away completely, but they can be controlled with practice and preparation.

In Janet Esposito’s book Getting Over Stage Fright—A New Approach to Resolving Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing she discusses approaches that tie in the inclusion of spirituality and meditation to get the mind and body stabilized to find “inner strength for outward support.” Her premise is based on the need to understand that the escalation of anxiety is completely normal for most of us. Many actors as they approach the stage have varying levels of fear, but what makes the experienced ones different is their ability to teach themselves to transfer these feelings to their art. The important fact is that there is a direct correlation between your ability to tame the mind and your ability to control the body.

I took a class in college more than twenty years ago on visualization. As I walked into the first class laughing, I was expecting some easy credits. It was taught by one of the university sports coaches, and the class was full of athletes. The study of visualizing and sports psychology was a growing field at the time, and was not fully understood. We were asked to take one routine act, such as shooting foul shots, and start tracking our progress physically as we slowly introduced new mental practices to calm ourselves down. The intent was to visualize our own success and growth through true focus. I was skeptical for much of the semester. I selected a three-mile run that I had been doing for years. I had been doing it for so long that I typically finished close to the same finish time each day. I saw very little room for improvement. There may have been some times when I could sprint through it for a quick event-driven improvement, but the goal of the class exercise was sustained improvement.

I watched in amazement as I worked on my breathing techniques, on measuring my strides, on keeping my arms straight rather than having them come across my chest, and—most importantly—on the belief that I could accomplish more. My times continued to go down regularly. I did reach a plateau, but it was at a stabilized level that was far better than my predicted outcome. Visualizing success is now a common practice among athletes, and it can be important to your own success when preparing for situations that cause stage fright. Maybe the old fictional character, Stuart Smalley, played by Al Franken on Saturday Night Live segment that first aired in 1991, wasn’t too far off when he said the following catchphrase into the mirror: “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonit, people like you.”

It is now normal to watch athletes and actors visualize their performances. They are making every effort to stretch their peak performance. I recall seeing Olympic skiers on TV with their eyes closed and hands in motion as they simulated their progress through the course. Their hands moved smoothly in unison with their thoughts by going side-to-side and up-and down to mimic the exact course they were about to go down. I believe that they all saw themselves as the winner.

Limiting thoughts can significantly impact performance. Shaquille O’Neal was a consistently poor free-throw shooter in college and in the NBA. His physical technique was often identified as an issue because of the lack of arc he had when shooting the ball into the hoop. However, as his career continued and more coaches and sports psychologists became involved in his training, his issue was often noted as a mental block. He finished his career with a 52.7-percent success rate. Wikipedia states that in the NBA, most players make between seventy to eighty percent of their attempts. A combination of more mental focus, physical preparation, and practice could have increased these results substantially.

Some people see the deep-rooted causes of their own public speaking as obstacles too large to break through. We fill ourselves with excuses that it’s too hard to try to identify and fix due to personal time constraints. We convince ourselves that it’s not worth the effort or we are unable to visualize our own success. I was one of those people until I ironically got more personal in a speech and showed a significant amount of vulnerability. I begin to sing onstage for part of a speech. My apprehension turned to confidence when I saw the audience’s reaction. I was consistently off key and had no rhythm, yet there were tears in the eyes of some of the audience members as they began to relate to the message of my story. You can use your own individual hurdles, roadblocks, and triumphs to strengthen your own message.

There are many options that can be taken to create synergy between your mind, body, and soul. I am not an expert, so I suggest consulting the professionals. However, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and yoga have been identified as potential alternatives to prepare you for the big meeting or your moment on stage. I’ve even turned to the Nintendo Wii game console to do yoga on the Wii Fit Balance Board before a speech competition. The exercises are calming and relaxing, while it stretched out my building tension. I continued this routine before I got mad at the game. It predicts your fitness “age” based on certain physical tests. At the age of 40, it continued to tell me I was over 60 years old. This was not helping my mental stability. I needed to visualize success, not being 20 years older.

Once we understand the potential causes of the fear, we can take the actions to build our confidence level. The psychology of fear can have a devastating direct link to the physical effects of the built-up symptoms. An article from www.owningthestage.com notes that there are certain things you can’t control such as “…your genes. Some people are simply more prone to anxiety than others, and if you’re unlucky in the DNA you probably know it. Blame your parents. With the genetic factor, you have to play the hand you are dealt.” This argument still allows for the possibility that we have the ability to control much of the causes around us. We will cover much of this in detail later in the book. The article does go on to state that:

“It’s ‘only’ in your mind. It’s important to understand that stage fright is subjective: it exists only in your mind and your own perception. It might be painful, but it’s not like a poke in the eye. It’s a purely inner struggle.

Sometimes stage fright can feed on itself, like when you’re deathly afraid of getting stage fright! It might seem crazy but we’re not talking about rational, logical thoughts here. This leads to a kind of perfect storm of anxiety. You might make a little mistake, like a slightly out of tune note or a badly timed entrance or a loss of balance. That triggers a bit of anxiety, which kicks off your overblown fear of anxiety, which causes a few more mistakes, and so on until you faint, or have a coronary, or at least consider faking one.

And even though stage fright is ‘only in your mind,’ it is still very real for a lot of people.”

The Eric Education Resource Information Center notes that many inadequate theories of stage fright tie into the “cumulative effects of emotions” that include “neurological, body reaction, and a two-factor theory of body reactions and environmental cues.” However, they theorize that stage fright goes beyond that to become a culmination of “behavioral, physiological, and the cognitive.” In other words, the behaviors of avoiding the situation of public speaking because of perceived failure or embarrassment, leads to physiological symptoms of sweating or shaking that impacts the “consciousness of both.” There is a continuum of mind, body, and behavior actions that are related to each other. All can impact our ability to give our best unless they are controlled.

Some ways to prepare for your time in the spotlight include: write out what you want to say; practice by repeating the message often; increase your stage time; and be a student of yourself. Specifically, being a student of yourself can include your ability to be more willing to be open to feedback and videotaping.

As you continue your public speaking growth through mental and physical preparation, you will be taught how to visualize success and how to get to know the audience. Additionally, you will begin to truly believe that the audience wants to listen to your message, and understand that not all of your feelings are fear. Some of your built-up anticipation might just be excitement to be there. On the physical front, you can prepare with deep breathing, stretching out the tension, avoiding caffeine, exercising prior to the presentation, and staying within your routine, if possible. Many of these tips will be detailed in later chapters.

You can become a solid public speaker, or simply someone who doesn’t faint when they do it. It takes time and effort. However, the preparation and practice are easily accomplished with a commitment to get better, and are not as difficult as you think. The beast of public speaking can be tamed. You can find the way to sustained success. It is time to cross over the threshold from wanting to change to actual change.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom: Find the Sources of Stage Fright- Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-Speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - August 5, 2019 - News
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You are approaching the lectern for the “big” presentation, or you’re about to have the interview that will change the course of your life. You get dizzy; your heart pounds; your mouth gets dry. It seems to happen every time you need most to be calm, cool, and collected! What if you understood the root causes of your stage fright and anxiety? Understanding the sources of stage fright will enable you, the potential speaker, to take the steps necessary to address the fright head-on. The choice is fight or flight. It’s time to fight back and get you to be the calm, cool, collected person you can be.

Make the anxiety go away. It may not be possible to make it go away fully, but wouldn’t you like to have command over these feelings so you can take advantage of the opportunities presented to you? Stage fright can be categorized as biological, psychological, social, cultural, or a combination of all of the above. Some people might stop reading here, and say that there is far too much to go through to “solve” the public-speaking anxiety, so maybe avoiding it altogether is the best course of action.

I wish it was that easy. Depending on your job, for example, it may be a little easier to avoid these situations. However, what happens when you’re asked to be the best man or maid of honor in a wedding? What if you are forced into the unfortunate duty of delivering a close friend’s eulogy? What if you want to buy a car and need to negotiate? It should be becoming clear that avoiding public speaking situations isn’t as easy as you might think, because it is everywhere. When you learn to address the symptoms straight on rather than avoiding the situation entirely, you will find that each new situation will get a little easier. Your confidence levels will skyrocket. You may not notice it right away, but the invested time to practice and prepare will pay off in the end.

Can you “unlearn” the pent-up fears that have kept you from being your best? My wife often notes that I’ve successfully untrained everything she has taught our dog. Therefore, I have to believe we can turn the tides on our own emotions and confidence level.

I know what you’re thinking: Can’t you just give me medication? Is there an “app” for that? In a culture where we are constantly looking for a quick fix, they are available. If you do a search on iTunes, for example, it will bring up podcasts and applications relating to the topic of public speaking and stage fright. As far as medication, some jokingly may say, “Have a drink.” I have read many books and articles on public speaking that reference the use of alcohol to calm nerves. All have very clearly stated the obvious risk of overindulgence, when you go beyond the calming of nerves and begin to impact your ability to think and speak clearly.

There are similar risks associated with taking medications, which only conceal the symptoms for a little while. You must remember that public speaking is everywhere, so reaching for medication may suffice for that one-time event, but may not always be there for a chance meeting that can change your life. The website www.changethatsrightnow.com was one of many sources offering tips for quick resolutions to stage fright. There are many medications suggested to combat anxiety and stage fright. The organization Change That’s Right Now describes the following three medications:

“Beta blockers are used for relieving performance anxiety. They work by blocking the flow of adrenaline that occurs when you’re anxious. While beta blockers don’t affect the emotional symptoms of anxiety, they can control physical symptoms such as shaking hands or voice, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.

“Antidepressants can be helpful when the feelings of fear are severe and debilitating. Three specific antidepressants — Paxil, Effexor, and Zoloft — have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration phobias.

“Benzodiazepines are fast-acting anti-anxiety medications. However, they are sedating and addictive, so they are typically prescribed only when other medications have not worked.”

As with any discussion about medication, please check with your doctor before taking it to fully understand the impact it may have on your mind and body.

My caution for these suggestions—besides the side effects that may take some television commercials far too long to disclose to meet the regulations, at least in the United States—is the fact that the taking of this medication does not get to the root cause of the issue. Drugs are for short-term solutions. In fact, I think solution is probably too strong a word. I think it should actually be mask the symptoms. There are long-term, sustainable resolutions to control the onset of symptoms of stage fright. For those individuals willing to invest the time, they can have a lifetime of success versus the Band Aid you might find by going straight to your medicine cabinet.

In our anxiety over public speaking, our thoughts instantly go to a scene of us standing at a lectern in front of hundreds of people. Culturally, we are brought up from the time we are young to believe that public speaking and anxiety is synonymous. It would almost seem unnatural if I didn’t include the statement that most people fear it more than death. This cultural myth has permeated our thoughts from the beginning, so we often perpetuate the myth by doing everything possible to avoid public-speaking situations. We are inadvertently taught about fearing fear itself.

We often create our own self-fulfilling prophesies. You can run from those presentations in front of hundreds of people periodically.  However, each day presents itself with a new challenge that we could rise above if we simply learned the appropriate techniques to effectively communicate in a public setting, regardless of whether it is with one person or with thousands.

Anxiety is glossed over in a small section of many public-speaking books as being an inevitable part of the equation. Unfortunately, either through genes—which prove that some of us have a higher propensity for that type of anxiety—or cultural inundation of the horrors of public speaking, we all believe we can simply suffer through the few times we’ll be required to speak publicly. In some cases, we are pointed toward a quick fix designed to simply get us through a single moment. My goal is to get you to stand tall and confidently present yourself in a commanding and influential manner that will cause the receiver of your message to take notice as a result of the power of your words, gestures, and vocal inflections. I want you to be able to stand in front of a crowd with a smile on your face, and truly mean it. That smile will show the world that you are having fun and that your messages are being heard. I can teach you that the rising heat up the sides of your neck and a flushing face should be an afterthought rather than something that impacts your ability to attain your public speaking goals. In fact, let’s strike the afterthought comment, and set a goal to not even think about it at all. With preparation and practice, it is possible.

I have an almost existential view of public speaking. Don’t psych yourself up so much that it takes away from your ability to rationally state the points necessary to make an impact, and don’t talk yourself down so much that the audience’s enthusiasm wanes at your own lack of passion. Repeating the same words, “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” as you struggle to stand upright on your walk to the lectern most likely won’t strengthen your presentation. In addition, the repeated mantra won’t resolve your deep-seated fear unless the true investment of practice and preparation are also part of the process. Stage fright may not ever fully go away, but it can be controlled with the right invested actions and efforts. These actions and efforts will most likely all filter back to practice and preparation.

Public speaking is a journey that needs the roller coaster ride for the audience to feel the emotions that you’re feeling. The audience wants to be a part of your message and success. They want to walk away with some meaningful, inspirational, or motivational message. Public speaking surrounds us. It is a normal fact in our life and culture. Although technology has changed how we communicate, for the most part we still can’t avoid the need to interact in some way on a regular basis. Even if you are more on the latter half of fight or flight when it comes to hitting the topic head on, you will need to use many aspects of public speaking, such as writing or sending a message. Some people would rather communicate behind a computer screen within social media channels, but in this book you will also learn the importance of the written word and understand what your message says about you, the writer. Your personal and professional success is directly linked to your ability to communicate effectively.

Thomas B. Dowd III books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide are available under “Products” on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the links to be re-directed:  Amazon.com

Post from Transformation Tom: Step into the Public Forum- Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-Speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - July 29, 2019 - News
0


My first memory of public speaking was in the fourth grade. I was asked to present some topic that I can’t even recall in front of a class of about twenty students. What I remember is the heat running up to my face and head, and the heart palpitations that caused greater tension and fear as I walked to the front of the room. After what I remember to be a dreadful display of public speaking, I became disoriented. I walked down the wrong aisle and sat down in someone else’s seat.

This frightful performance was followed a few years later as I awaited my turn to present to my seventh-grade class. I misread the ending of a classmate’s presentation and prematurely went to the front of the room. Not knowing what to do, I sat frozen sitting on the desk beside her while she spent the next five minutes finishing her thoughts. I was dumbfounded, and could only hope the entire class could not see the panic running through me for my mistake, all the while dreading the embarrassing performance to come.

I could go on with many other stories that show my own failure in the public forum. Instead of focusing on the paralyzing potential of the public speaking world in this book, I will share with you the observations and lessons that have taught me to be a confident and successful speaker. I want to teach you how to change that fear that freezes so many of us and turn it into positive energy so that you can not only survive a public-speaking experience, but can gain the confidence to want to share your message with others.

Public-speaking fear emerges early on, as childhood inhibitions slowly turn to hesitation and angst. We’ll discuss some of these sources of stage fright shortly. We each have our individual reasons for why stepping in front of a group of people becomes so daunting. I know firsthand the physical and mental anguish of stepping into a public forum when my words became gibberish and my thoughts left my mind. I have had to work hard to gain control of my faculties to be able to successfully share thoughts, feelings, and stories in such a way that people want to listen to me. Shockingly, I can’t wait to do it now. This learned confidence has made me successful personally and professionally.

As a public speaker and author, I have taken the lessons and observations that have worked for me and turned them into practical tips that speakers at all levels can use. My approach teaches hands-on, realistic applications that can be implemented right away. I can’t say that it’s not as hard as it looks to stand in front of a group of people, but I can say that implementing the information in this book will make the experience easier, and—believe it or not—even enjoyable.

In this age of headline news and information overload, who has time to read a book on public speaking? We decide we will work on these skills later, when we have more time. Maybe simply avoiding the topic will somehow make the fear go away. Be aware: it is not a matter of if you will have to speak in public; it is a matter of when. Will you have to give a Thanksgiving dinner toast? Will you have to make a cold sale to a new potential client? Do you have a burning question as an audience member, but are too scared to ask it?  Are you sitting at a cocktail party or at a business networking event where you don’t know anyone and are paralyzed against a wall?

There are plenty of books on this subject, ranging from an academic approach diagnosing physical and mental barriers that cause stage fright to guidance on becoming a professional speaker. This book won’t show you how to perform academic research on what’s going on in our body and head, or how to break into the speaking profession. I realize that everyone’s motives for improvement will vary. My intentions are to provide speakers of all levels with the foundation to give them the courage to take action to develop and grow. The fact that you picked up this book is a good indicator that you want to improve.

My approach is straightforward. Let me intentionally repeat myself: my approach is straightforward. Let’s break down the fundamentals of practical public speaking. You will be ahead of the game if you take nothing more out of this book than the following:

  1. Effective public speaking is more about confidence than communication skills.
  2. Public speaking is more than a lectern, podium, or microphone; it is everywhere.
  3. The ability to speak publicly is not as hard as you may imagine—the hardest part is taking the first action steps.
  4. Public speaking is a learned skill that must continually be developed.
  5. Your own success, both personal and professional, is directly related to your ability to communicate effectively.

These fundamentals will permeate the suggestions and recommendations throughout this book.

Most people I have coached through public speaking already have some communication skills. Skill levels vary by individual. Many of them can have what seems like a normal conversation in person or over the phone, until they hear the phrase “public speaking.” I have seen a roomful of people freeze in horror when they are asked to step up front to provide a one-minute introduction. Here is a key lesson: speak of something that you know or that relates to you. Whether you are asked to give a quick introduction or a full keynote speech, integrate familiar stories into the presentation. Why? Because you know yourself better than anyone else does, which should make you more comfortable. This fact alone should give you a small dose of confidence that you know what will be coming out of your mouth next.

Although the majority of references in this book involve public speaking, many of the road blocks to successful speaking are not about the speaking portion of communication at all. We can all improve our ability to formulate a thought and then express it; however, a large hurdle people run into is confidence. How can you gain confidence? Having someone tell you that you need to increase your confidence is like having someone tell you to relax when you are tense. It’s not easy, but there are specific steps we can take to become more confident.

Confidence can be gained through preparation, practice, and repetition. The fact that you are familiar with the material you are about to present should be a powerful boost. Every time you do some form of public speaking, a little bit of discomfort or anxiety goes away. Look for small wins. You may not notice the gains immediately, and the discomfort may not go away completely, but you will start to realize that you are improving. If you want proof, simply videotape yourself for a week. Give a short prepared speech (length is not relevant). Tape the presentation each day for a week. I can promise you that you will see improvements that will bring a smile to your face. Imagine taking that feeling over weeks and months and years. Find ways to knock down your personal barriers one step at a time, and turn your uncomfortable situations into manageable situations that will result in greater confidence.

Not everyone is scrambling to jump behind a lectern (unless it’s to hide) or command a stage to extend a message. Have you ever run into someone in the hall at work? Have you ever been interviewed? Have you ever been in a business presentation where you were asked a question and needed a quick response? Everyday situations surround us where, if we had confidence in ourselves, we could turn our fear into success. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can avoid public communication. Your success is often directly aligned with your ability to confidently present yourself.

It is obviously a fact that we are surrounded with everyday interactions that can change the perceptions we have about ourselves, and the perceptions other people have about us. Imagine taking action on your desire to improve your confidence; you can do anything you set your sights on. You can be the person, communicator, and leader you want to be. Your improved confidence and skills can translate into promotions, better interpersonal relationships, or just about any other goals you’ve set.

As someone constantly on the go with work and life, I have often felt I didn’t have the time to address my public speaking shortcomings. I was too busy in the daily grind to lift my head up enough to see that if I improved my communication skills and confidence, I could improve other things like my leadership and time-management skills. For example, when I managed a team of about fifteen people, I constantly found myself answering the same questions over and over, or repeating myself. I learned to confidently convey messages and expectations that were clear, concise, and actionable. Guess what? I found myself saving time by not repeating myself, and more importantly, started to see people taking the actions to be autonomous because they started to believe in themselves. I began to believe that I had the ability to inspire others.

Improving yourself is not as hard as you think. The fact that you want to improve is a huge step. I chose to join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a proven method to improve communication and leadership skills with approximately 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs worldwide. Their mission statement reads:

“The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”

Joining Toastmasters is not a prerequisite or the only way to improve public-speaking skills, but it is a methodical approach to self-paced learning in an encouraging environment.

Before you start your journey, have a goal in mind. Obviously this goal will evolve, but you need a starting point. When you reach this goal, set another, slightly higher goal. For example, if you simply want to confidently read a story to kids in the library, then keep working towards it. You can start reading in front of a mirror to yourself. Once you are comfortable, ask family and friends to listen to you. After you are comfortable with them, then you can go to the library, ready to read to the kids. You are surrounded with opportunities; you simply have to cross the threshold.

Crossing the threshold to take action is hard only if you are holding yourself back. I worked with an individual to improve her confidence level in order to be able to lead her team of twenty people in a daily morning meeting. When I suggested joining Toastmasters, she said she’d been thinking about it for a long time. The next natural question was, “Why not join now?” I heard the same excuses and comments I hear far too often: I don’t have the time, I need to work it into my schedule, or I have it on my to-do list. That to-do list is not getting any shorter, nor is it getting enough action. I gently pressed on to say that the improvement happens only when the person is ready to take the action to improve. Her completed Toastmasters application was on my desk a couple of hours later. She is now on her way to becoming more successful.

These practical tips are intended to be a reference guide for you. This book isn’t about staying ahead of the curve with what’s hot (I like to call it flavor-of-the-day business jargon), or creating and using buzz words. This is about the fundamental tools of public speaking. The tools referenced will remain timeless.

I would be naïve to say that communications have not advanced. We have evolved to different communication channels, from rotary phones to “smart phones” where we can “tweet” our own message to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people at once, to webinars as a way of public speaking. What will remain constant, however, is the need to communicate our messages clearly and confidently. No matter what the means of communication are, we still need the critical skills.

Public speaking is a learned skill that can and should be developed, refined, and honed. I do not believe that some people have it and some people don’t. Everyone can pick up these skills. As with most things, the more you do it, the more comfortable and successful you will be. Public speaking is a learned skill that needs nurturing.

Not all chapters in this book will be relevant to your speaking evolution at the same time. However, as you grow with your skills and ability, different chapters will meet your needs and timing. The information will show you how and what to do to make a difference personally and professionally. The tips are easy to follow and easy to implement. Exercising your public-speaking abilities will stimulate your whole being until these abilities become locked into your inner core. Despite what you may have heard, public speaking shouldn’t be scarier than death. Public speaking is a skill waiting to be harnessed before your death. Congratulations. You are about to start your journey to success.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Revisit the Things That Made You Better and Stronger: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 22, 2019 - News
0

Stronger

Go back and revisit all of the things that inspired you, taught you, and
motivated you. Go back and read your collection of leadership books,
self-help books, watch your DVDs, or anything else from which you felt
you received a strong message that made a difference in your development. Find your old notes from mentor sessions, or interesting technical reading about your industry, or anything that interests you. Dust off old performance appraisals and make sure you have implemented the feedback.

What you choose to go back to is not as relevant as reinvesting the
time to reinforce past teachings. I personally dedicate at least an hour a
week to reference past material and review information I may have forgotten. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase from someone who has been around the block for a while, “I’ve forgotten more than someone else
knows.” Don’t let that happen to you.

You are a constantly evolving, learning creature. Some of the revisited
material may seem brand new, while others may simply be viewed from
a new and wiser perspective. Keep the learning alive for a better professional and personal future. Most of us are surrounded with learning
materials that are right at our fingertips. Be wise and use them.

I have written many times about investing time with mentors and
supporters, and surrounding yourself with great teammates. However,
only you can take the final step to transform your professional life. I am
grateful for everyone who has provided me enough guidance to inspire
me to make the choices I have. I believe everyone has a choice to transform
their life. I know, because I have. I, the cynic, did not believe in
myself—or many others, for that matter—early in my career. The twists
and turns of my professional life put me on a path to build my self-confidence and self-awareness. I am the same person, but with a brand new
outlook and the confidence that I can make a difference in my life and the
lives of many others. I can make a difference in my professional career.
I can make my business better. I can share my experiences so others can
prosper. I have finally learned to take a step back and invest for countless
steps forward.

Much of what you have read in this book seems obvious. I like to be
the king of the obvious sometimes, because if it was so obvious, then why
did it take me so long to grasp hold of much of it? My years of interaction
with professionals has proven that we are creatures of habit, and need a
little tweaking to find the good habits that make us better. Keep going
back to the basics that have proven to work and you can’t go wrong. Pick
out the ones that work for you. Keep learning from the past and strengthening  the future, but stick with the basics.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Value People: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 15, 2019 - News
0

Value People

When I was in a position to support my business, I was responsible
for keeping the day-to-day components running smoothly. I found I had
a group of go-to people I constantly needed for assistance. There was one
person in particular who worked in technology that I found I was constantly calling to fix something. His sense of urgency and my sense of urgency were quite different. I had the constant need to ride him and follow up to get things done. I would stay on him, and he would quietly get to my requests in his own sweet time.

On one occasion, I really felt that my request needed to be prioritized—
although everything seemed urgent to me. He gave me the same
response that he gave me every other time: I would wait in line with the
other requests and he would get to it. I felt the need to sit down with
him this time and explain that I really needed him to get to my request
now. We sat together for an extended period for the first time ever. It was
not just a quick phone call or email request—we had a real conversation.
I explained my reasoning and rationale, which differed from past
terse requests, “I need it done now.” I hoped in doing this that he would
come to understand why my request differed in priority from the other
requests he had in his queue. He seemed to understand, and we were
able to work out a decent agreement that worked for both of us. I let him
know how much I appreciated him jumping on it, and thanked him for
the past work he had done for me. I clearly let him know that the work he
had done in the past was done with high quality and he should be proud
of it. I was not doing this because I just got what I wanted. I was doing
this because I felt we finally connected and he deserved to hear it.
Although he was taken aback to begin with, he saw the budding relationship as well and graciously accepted the compliment. He also thought it was a good time to provide me with some honesty of his own. He matter-of-factly said, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” I had heard this proverb before, but never directed specifically at me, but I got the point quickly.

Our relationship continued to grow over time. He continued to
increase his sense of urgency, when it made sense, and I started to get
more requests done without follow-up. He would move my requests up
the queue with a wink, at times. Although this lesson isn’t about being
someone’s favorite, it didn’t hurt. In reality, he wasn’t working faster,
showing more urgency, or even any favoritism, he just wasn’t intentionally
delaying my requests any longer. I had deserved the delays before
because I was not respecting the value of the work he did. It also took
an event in which I really needed something badly to force me to tell
someone he’d done a great job. Sometimes, people just need to feel valued
and appreciated. As a peer or a manager, we should appreciate the whole
value of what someone is offering, not just a single event. Don’t wait for a
particular moment to give a simple compliment and provide recognition.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Be a Teacher—You Will Learn More: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 8, 2019 - News
0

Learning and Teaching

I have known many people in the teaching profession who have dedicated
their daily lives to teaching children. I often hear how gratifying and rewarding it is to them as individuals. There is also a humbling pride I have witnessed in many school teachers as they watch “their” children grow throughout the school year.
I remember the first time I was asked at school in the fourth grade
what I wanted to be when I grew up. Possibly out of panic or the unknown,
I said I wanted to be a teacher. Being a school teacher wasn’t in my future.
I have found I don’t have the necessary patience. I have observed teachers—including my wife, who is a teacher by profession—who have shown
more patience then I could ever dream of.

I may not have met my fourth-grade goal of becoming a teacher, but
I have found myself teaching throughout my professional years. I have
gone from teaching cold hard facts, to teaching technical aspects of a
given job, to investing my time in teaching people how to increase their
confidence and improve themselves. I have presented to groups of people,
mentored one-on-one, and managed teams of all sizes. I have taught new
hires, new managers, tenured employees, and tenured managers over the
years. I guess I too have witnessed firsthand the humbling pride of watching others grow.

Watching people learn a new business and better themselves is
powerful. However, this feeling of pride is overpowered by the amount
of learning I find myself doing whenever I am in teaching mode. I have
begun to pick up on the common teachings of patience and humility
myself. There are so many things to learn as a teacher of others. I have
learned that I could be a better listener and ensure that there are two-way
discussions, even in a classroom setting. I have room to improve my
style, my delivery, and my preparation. I have learned that I do not know
everything, and sharing what I do know is intoxicating. I have learned
that as a teaching mentor, I can make a difference one person at a time.
I constantly learn from attendees in the classroom setting. I see an
eagerness to learn and a thirst to share ideas. I have learned that there
is no single best way to do something and that people learn at different
speeds. I have learned through the years that people learn in different
ways: some like books, some learn visually, and different generations
learn differently. I have learned that I need to vary my approach to be
more flexible and plan for the unexpected.

One of my biggest lessons is the recognition that I had things to
teach. I already knew I had business skills to teach that increased people’s
technical acumen. However, I found that I had a story to tell, and there
were people who wanted to listen. We all have our own background and
stories that can be shared. I found that my job satisfaction and success
increased when I shared my own lessons learned and best practices.
I found there is an audience to teach. It can be an audience of one or
an audience of one hundred. There is an active and willing group of people
who are willing to take the steps to be better, learn from one another’s
wisdom, and get the nuggets of information necessary to strengthen their
resolve and confidence—so that they, in turn, can eventually become the
teacher. It is a constant and progressive process.

I have found no better learning experience than humbly standing in
front of a group of people who want to be there. Whenever possible, seek
opportunities in your professional world to be the teacher. Teach someone
something—anything—and you will invariably be the student. Your
thirst to share will pay off in more knowledge for you to absorb. This
ensures a perpetual cycle of teaching and learning.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Treat Each Day Like an Interview— another Paradox: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - July 1, 2019 - News
0


Treat each day like an interview

In one breath I tell you that you should be yourself; work hard, and
things will take care of themselves. In the second breath, I will tell you
that every day is an interview. Isn’t that contradictory? A good friend of
mine, who has years of Human Resource experience, once told me that a
job interview is like a first date. You’re about to see someone’s supposed
best and everything he or she has to give. I had an interview recently
where the person was a couple minutes late for our discussion. He had
no specific reason, and he didn’t know a lot about the job. He even mentioned
that he was hoping I could tell him about it. He didn’t ask for clarity
about the role or more details about the job, he wanted me to tell him
about the job he applied for. Although some of his answers were decent,
and I saw some growth potential, I walked away from what I will describe
as an average interview. As much as I wanted to take a chance on him, I
also wanted him to put a little more individual effort into what could have
been a career-changing moment. If this was his best for our “first date,”
I should have concerns about what he can do for my team in the future.

The person interviewing, like on a first date, typically will be dressed
well (or should be), prepared (or should be), and ready to give you his
or her ‘A’ game. As the person making a hiring decision during an average
interview, we sometimes want to justify the candidate’s efforts, and
hire him anyway. We either have a hiring goal we need to achieve, see
something between the lines, or just want to give someone a break. All
are legitimate reasons to make a thoughtful decision. As you are making
this thoughtful decision, the question needs to be asked of yourself, “You
just saw his or her best. Does it go downhill from here?” I have found too
many examples of instances when the decision that average was good
enough went badly. The person was not a good fit for the company or job.
He or she should have given you his or her ‘A’ game, but we accepted their
‘B’ or ‘C’ game, thus setting the expectations and bar lower right off the
bat. It may well go downhill from there.

Once you are in the company, the interview process doesn’t stop.
Your ‘A’ game shouldn’t go away just because you entered the building as
an official employee. I know that brand new cars instantly lose their value
as soon as you drive it off the lot, but you are not a new car. Your value
should grow as you enter the building—every day. Every day you should
strive to raise your game. There will be bad days, but you should make an
effort to minimize those bad days and strive to add value to the company
each day. This includes interactions with people you work with, work for,
and the people who work for you. Don’t let your guard down and coast
for a day. It only starts you down a path of building bad habits.
For example, have you ever been caught off guard when someone
started to use profanity because “it’s just the two of you.” Have you ever
been involved in rumor-mill chatter, or bad mouthing a colleague? How
about a casual conversation in the hall that turns into a confidential dialogue? You need to realize that you are constantly being watched, listened to, and judged by people at all levels and your reputation is constantly being evaluated.

If someone witnesses your ‘B’ or ‘C’ game, it may leave a lasting
impression for a while. Every interaction can be viewed as an interview. It
doesn’t mean you can’t have casual or confidential interactions with others;
it means be conscious of your actions and words. Every interaction
can be a lasting one; make it a good one. Seek to maintain the reputation
you want—the reputation that you are making a top-notch effort every
day. I am also not encouraging you to be uppity, snobbish, or to act better
than anyone else out there. I am, however, saying that we should all set an
example for others to emulate. Be a role model. Being your natural self
should include all of this.

So, is the message to be constantly on guard and never have fun? No.
Regardless of whether you are a company leader, an emerging leader, or
someone who just wants to be respected in the workplace, you should
competently be aware of your surroundings and actions. You should
make the effort to be in control of your actions and understand the
impression you are leaving on others. This includes being fun. If you create
a professional and fun environment where employees work hard and
are rewarded for their efforts, people will take notice and respond. They
will make their own effort to be professional, want to have fun, and work
hard because they see you doing it. If their leaders are doing it, then it
must be all right for them.

Be yourself and bring your ‘A’ game each day; be aware that you are
a potential role model and you can take the lead to set the tone. You may
even get noticed by other decision makers who think you would be a
great fit in their shop because they are impressed with you, ironically, for
what you may consider an everyday event. Treat each day like an interview—it will pay off.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom™- Be Yourself—the Paradox: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - June 24, 2019 - News
0

Be Yourself paradox

Dress to impress. You are told you are constantly onstage and people
are constantly paying attention to you. Your manager is watching your
every move. Now, just try to be yourself. We panic and get uptight when
our boss’s boss asks for something. Thoughts go through our mind, such
as, “Will this be good enough for them?”, “I need to impress them,” and
“What do I need to do to get noticed?” When we have senior leaders visit
our building, everyone seems to panic. Messages go out to clean up the
work areas, and all of a sudden our business-casual dress code goes away
and the ties come back out. If the suits and ties aren’t on, there are at least
blue blazers everywhere.

I used to wonder if I didn’t get that last promotion because my shirt
was wrinkled that one time. I now can’t remember what I wore yesterday,
let alone keep track of everyone else. This isn’t about how you dress, it is
about how you present yourself…everyday. You shouldn’t put on an act
just because there are special guests. In fact, what message does that send
to people who work for you and work with you if you suddenly change?
There are higher ranked people out there, so what? The key is to find your
personality and be consistent with it. If you like to create a fun-looking
environment with decorations all around, why can’t your upper management see it? If you made the decision to put it up, why can’t it stay up? If you maintain a clean and safe environment all of the time, there shouldn’t be a panic the night before someone comes. I learned to rarely fret over my environment because I maintain it on a regular basis and attempt to teach everyone the importance of presenting themselves respectfully every day, anyway.

I had to learn to stop trying to impress everyone, all the time. I
wanted to take care of my manager, take care of my peers, and take care
of the people who worked for me. I wanted to be everywhere, all the
time, and give everyone what they wanted when they wanted it. I got
disappointed in myself if my boss requested changes or offered suggestions.
I took it personally because they were not impressed with my work.
I found I tensed up during presentations, used words that were not natural
to me, and tended to be over the top in making the effort to ensure
that I was noticed.

When we were in the midst of my former company being bought
out, I had a choice to work harder and impress more people, or just do
my job to the best of my ability. I was concerned about the unknown, but
had confidence in my own ability. I found that the stress of this transition
brought out personalities I had never seen before. I saw selfishness
in some people who wanted all of the glory, I saw people give up, and I
saw people who I thought had loyalty to the company turn their heads. It
was an interesting time for everyone. However, the ones who impressed
me the most were the ones who never changed along the way. I learned
a valuable lesson about the importance of being myself. What did I have
to worry about? I was comfortable in my own skin and my confidence
had been growing. I was always commended for my hard work, so what
needed to change? I had feedback given to me on how to improve, and
the only challenge I now had was how to implement the feedback and still
be myself. I began to understand how I could do that.

I can’t tell you how much more satisfied and content I was with
my job and the company when I let down my guard enough to be Tom
Dowd. I was not Tom Dowd the Banker, or Tom Dowd the Manager, or
Tom Dowd (place label here). I was starting to be more engaging and
had more personal conversations to get to know people. It wasn’t wasting
time like I had always thought in the past. I could carry a conversation
and I could also balance it with my business needs. I was relating to
people, because they were starting to relate to me.

I could attend my child’s play, concert, or game on my own terms
because I wanted to be there, because I was being myself, knowing that
the job would get done. I was building a stronger bond with the people I
worked for and worked with, because they knew exactly what they were
getting with me. I had the confidence to know what needed to be done
at work and when it had to be done. If there was a conflict, I used my
strong relationships to talk to my manager about it. I would instill in
them enough confidence to know the job would get done, whether it was
by delegating or working different hours. That’s not trying to impress,
that’s just getting your job done the right way.

I have never whipped my cell phone out to look busy in the hall, and
have never intentionally sent emails at all hours of the night to impress
someone. I have also never been accused of not getting my job done on
time and I am always cited as doing it with the utmost quality. There is a
balance to what I do now. I ensure that I am conscious of my work quality
from the beginning and I don’t have to panic at the last minute. Work
hard. Work smart. Success will take care of itself if you work in the right
company and for the right people. If you work in a place where you are
constantly on guard, ask yourself, “Is this the right culture for me? Can I
be myself?”

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Know the Whole Story: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - June 17, 2019 - News
0

know whole story

I have had far too many examples of instances when I allowed my emotions—such as frustration—to dictate my mood, my decisions, and my
interactions. There have been plenty of times when I needed to practice
one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and “seek first
to understand, then to be understood.” You can’t reinforce this enough
in both the workplace and at home. I thought I would share a personal
experience to illustrate how easy the concept is and how conscientious we
need to be to practice it.

I have a neighbor of over eighteen years with whom I rarely had any
issues. We are not close, but have a cordial relationship. He has been a
good and helpful neighbor. He does, however, have a dog that I have often
worried about when it was near my kids. Admittedly, the dog has never
barked loudly enough to scare me, charged after anyone or anything that
would have caused my angst. Instead, I didn’t like the look or the breed,
and simply had a bad feeling about it.

Late one night, the dog was out in his yard barking loudly. It was
atypical and was getting on my nerves. The barking and whining wouldn’t
stop and went on for many hours. I was tired and cranky, and I couldn’t
sleep. Yet, I didn’t do anything to check on it or fix the problem. It became
obvious that my neighbor was not home so in my eyes there was no one
to call; I guess it was just easier to stew over the situation and periodically
complain to my wife.

After hours of this barking, my wife couldn’t stand it any longer and
walked across the yard in the dark. The dog was tangled and stuck, and
was calling in its own special way for help. Although I had a predisposed
nasty and angry attitude about this dog before this event, it was only exasperated as the barking continued. My wife quickly understood the situation, untangled the dog, provided him water, and said he was the sweetest thing. We later found out that another neighbor was supposed to let him out and had forgotten.

I’m sure that there are more professional examples that I could share,
but the innocence of an animal made this example stand out. We need
to fully understand situations prior to judging and overreacting to them.
There are more sides to a story than just our own.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby