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Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.

Learn from a Leader: Own the Arena

Here’s a TV pro tip for making your eyes and your entire face look less tired – wear a dark or brightly colored shade of lipstick. The pop of color draws attention away from your eyes (and the dark circles or bags underneath them) and helps off-set a lack of sleep.

I’ve done this many times and I can tell you from personal experience it’s a small thing that makes a big difference, not only in what the audience sees, but in how I see myself that day.   

Showing up is half the battle as that quote goes, but as an on-air personality the way I show up counts. As a leader it’s not enough to show up. The way you show up is part of your brand and the message you communicate to others.

It’s up to you to own your space, or as former professional tennis player and past USTA president Katrina Adams would say “Own the Arena.” She joined the Learn from a Leader series to talk about her new book and the many leadership lessons she learned...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Your favorite athlete is part of your personal brand. There’s a reason you were drawn to that athlete. There are things you appreciate about the way they approach their craft, or show leadership or show up in the community. Favorite athletes are not accident. It’s not a name you drew out of a hat.

Your favorite athlete says something about you which is why it’s part of your personal brand.

It’s another example of how sports conversations are more than stats and scores. You can convey messages about who you are and what you value in the way you talk about a game, athlete or outcome – as long as you’re strategic and intentional in your messaging.

Spend a few minutes thinking about what you want to communicate this week. See if you can tie it into one of these topics that are already making headlines and enhance your personal brand using sports small talk.

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Preparing for In-Person Conversations

The NFL schedule was released yesterday. I love schedule release day. I actually enjoy most schedule releases because it allows me to plan, prepare and map out the future.

Unlike my own schedule, the NFL schedule only changes in minor ways. Teams don’t flip-flop days or change their bye weeks. They play the game on the schedule. When it’s time for the season to start there is no option for a team to push back their season opener a few days because they don’t feel ready. It’s go time.

The start of the NFL season (August for preseason, September for regular season games) will also be go time for many people returning to an office building or transitioning to a hybrid work environment. The actual date might not be as locked in as the NFL schedule, but it’s happening.

Now is the time to prepare for that schedule change, the transitions that will take place and the communication skills you need to make it all work. That’s the skill you need to focus on...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters May 10, 2021

It should not come as a surprise to you there are topics you shouldn’t be talking about in casual conversation at work: politics, money, religion and sex. Common sense should tell you those are polarizing topics.

Common sense doesn’t always win out. Passion often does. Passion mixed with hot-button topics leads to disagreements, fights and issues at work. It’s not just the disagreement that causes problems it’s what you think about your colleagues and how they perceive you after the fact. That’s why some companies have banned talk of politics at work.

 Every conversation is part of your personal brand, whether you see it that way or not.

Here’s the problem when you move away from those hot-button topics, it feels like you’re limited in what you can talk about… and the weather isn’t worth talking about.

Here’s the solution – sports small talk. 

You can have a passionate, lively conversation that reflects...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters May 02, 2021

“We see each other as we really are, we break down barriers and form connections.”

This quote stood out to me almost as much as the headline of the article it came from: It’s World Naked Gardening Day and Seattle is the No. 3 city for celebrating it.

It’s certainly one way to break down barriers. 

If that feels a bit over the top, I have another suggestion – engage in conversations that go beyond the topic at hand to find out more about the personality, background and makeup of the people you work with. These sports conversations starters can do that. 

Or you can show them the gardening article, whichever you prefer.

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Learn from a Leader: Collecting Talent vs. Building a Team

The NFL Draft isn't just about building a football team. It's talent evaluation being covered and talked about as a sports event. 

Every leader and business owner makes the same types of decisions as NFL general managers. They can also make the same types of mistakes. Here's the biggest one: acquiring talent vs. building a team.

There's  one thing that determines whether you are building a team or just acquiring talent: the job description itself. 

Former NFL GM Randy Mueller explains why that's key when evaluating talent and identifying the best fit for your team. 

Learn from a Leader is a monthly series hosted by Jen Mueller and features CEO's, visionaries, thought leaders and action takers. Join the conversation and the next Learn from a Leader session for free. 

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Sports talk tip: The topic you start with isn’t the only one worth talking about. Sports can be a springboard to other conversations and this week the NFL Draft is a great conversation starter in your business meetings. Here’s why – the NFL Draft is about talent evaluation, identifying and addressing talent gaps on a team and onboarding new team members.

You might only have a passing interest in which order the quarterbacks get drafted but there’s a very personal interest in who you have on your team at work, gaps that need to be filled and how you get new team members up to speed in a virtual or hybrid work environment. The NFL Draft is a timely topic to bring up those conversations this week.

Here are a few other sports topics you can use in your small talk:

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How are you? Struggling. Here's how to communicate your feelings

It was the article in the New York Times that convinced me I should talk about me week. Fridays I generally post an update on my Instagram account that I try to keep upbeat. 

I have not been upbeat this week. 

I’ve been struggling. 

In fact, I admitted this to two different people. I actually typed the words “I’m struggling” and choose to say that instead of “Fine” or “Good” or “Ok” when I was asked, “How are you doing?”

You have heard me talk about this before, and I will keep talking about it because your response to “How are you?” is a critical point in every conversation. The New York Times article I’m referring to hinted at that. If you haven’t seen it just type “languishing” into a search engine. You’ll find the article and you’ll discover that languishing is between depression and well-being on the mental health scale. It describes what a lot...

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Talking to People in Real Life: State the obvious, it's uncomfortable!

I know there’s a lot of angst and anxiety around returning to work and I know part of that stress comes from the thought of social interactions. Talking to people in real life is something we haven’t done much, if at all, in the last year. In fact we pivoted to the exact opposite. Virtual interactions with a mute button and an option to keep your camera turned off. 

It is possible that you’ve been silently hiding for more than a year and now showing up, being seen, being heard and talking to people is a huge overwhelming shift. 

And if you’ve had a few awkward encounters already… well, that doesn’t help your confidence or make it any easier to believe that  you can do it AND that it’s important you talk to your colleagues again in person. You might prefer to work virtually and stay hidden away but when you work with a team, they might need you to show up an engage in person for the good of the team and its collective goals.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

You don’t have to share the same sports interests to have a sports conversation.

Which means you don’t have to predict the fandom of the person you’re talking to before you start the conversation.

If you’re a baseball fan go ahead and ask your colleague if they saw the game last night. Wait for the response. Your colleague will tell you if they are a baseball fan and watched the game, or if they spent time watching golf instead.

Use their response to formulate follow-up questions and guide the conversation. Don’t overthink which one of these sports conversation starters will work this week. Pick one and see where the conversation takes you.

 

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