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

I Cook, You Measure returns for Season 2

Part cooking instruction, part entertainment and all about connecting over food and wine. 

That's how I describe my cooking show "I Cook, You Measure." It's unlikely any other cooking show and it's designed to entertain both home cooks and sports fans. 

Season 2 started on Friday. Did you catch the episode with Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh? 

The full lineup for Season 2 includes current Mariners, a Mariners legend, a Super Bowl Champion and the tallest person who's ever been in my kitchen (which makes sense for a hoops standout!)

I love this show and I love this project. I also know it might feel like a little bit of a stretch or something that doesn't quite fit with my emphasis on business communication and effective conversation strategies. 

Here's what you should know about me - my goal is ALWAYS to give people a platform to tell their stories.

I do that in every post-game interview. I do that on stage when giving keynote presentations. It's my objective in...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jul 09, 2023

I had a chance to visit family over the weekend including my sports-loving niece and nephew. Both play sports and watch sports, but for very different reasons.

“Layla is there for the win. Teddy is there for the snacks and socializing.” That’s how my sister-in-law describes their approach to sports it and it totally matches their personalities.

You know what else? A lot of sports fans take different approaches to fandom. It all comes down to personal preference and personalities. That means your conversations about sports can range from talking about the outcome, to the city a game is being played in, and the best food to eat when you’re at a game. Don’t limit yourself but do start with these sports conversation starters this week.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jul 02, 2023

Yes, I really did include competitive eating in this week’s list of sports conversation starters. It’s part of Fourth of July activities and traditions. So is bocce, horseshoes, croquet and lawn darts (or Jarts if you’re of a certain age.) All of it is sports to some degree.

Here’s how I define sports – a physical activity done with a level of competition. For me that could include everything from emptying the dishwasher (yes, I really do race the clock) to running sprint intervals during my workout.

This is a reminder to take a broader view of sports on a holiday weekend when there are plenty of options for participating, watching and talking about sports. If you’d rather not talk about losing the family cornhole tournament to your brother for a second straight year, here are a few topics you can use when joining small talk this week.

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What I learned about giving feedback as a pageant judge

business communication Jul 01, 2023

The assignment seemed easy and fun when I was asked to be part of a panel of judges for the Miss Washington pageant in 2021.

Then I sat through my first judges’ meeting. About 10 minutes in I started to wonder if I was in over my head and I knew I needed to get better at giving feedback.

It took me a little bit to warm up to the idea of giving feedback to young women who worked so hard to be there. I wanted to encourage everyone and be the “nice judge.” But that’s not how it works. The participants expected feedback and they wanted it. The process wasn’t just about winning it was getting feedback so they could show up with more confidence and be more impactful in their careers and community work.

Being the “nice judge” wasn’t going to help them reach their goals. Giving everyone the same grade was only going to ruin the process.

Here’s the No. 1 rule when judging: Use the full range of numbers.

Scores are based on a scale of 1-10...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jun 25, 2023

In baseball hitters (and managers) talk about the importance of not giving away at bats. In other words, they don’t want to give in to a pitcher. They want to stay competitive. Even if the end result is a strikeout, a competitive at-bat is still a measure of success.

I don’t usually go the “inside baseball” route in this weekly note, but when I think about small talk I don’t want to give away my opportunity. I want to find a way to engage, connect and walk away with a measure of success.

My goal is that these sports conversation starters give you a measure of success in small talk this week as well.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jun 18, 2023

Every week for the last 15 years I've posted a list of what I thought were Sports Conversation Starters...but I might have gotten it wrong. It might be better to categorize them as "Conversation Joiners." 

You don't have to start the conversation to participate in one. My goal is to always give you one or two tidbits you can contribute to a conversation. So thank you Laura for sending me a note with the phrase #ConvoJoiners because that's exactly what these are. 

Out of habit I'll probably still call them conversation starters, but however you think of them I hope this list makes the thought of small talk less intimidating and more interesting. 

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Dealing with Unfair Outcomes (in sports and business)

Sports is entertainment. I get that. I'm a sports broadcaster and a fan. I see the fun side of sports every day, but I also see all the different ways sports helps us make better decisions in our own professional lives.

For example, dealing with outcomes that aren't fair. It sucks. It sucks when you run into bad luck. You know who experiences that more often than you do? Athletes.  

When you watch sports you are watching professional development in real time. Athletes are professionals. They're building their skillset right in front of you and one of those skillsets is dealing with bad luck and outcomes that aren't fair. 

Here are the two things I see athletes do most often in those situations:

1. Acknowledge it sucks. Be honest with your feelings. They definitely commiserate with each other in the locker room or clubhouse. 

2. Evaluate their effort. It won't change the outcome, but when an athlete has done everything they can to prepare and execute in that moment...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jun 11, 2023

I forgot how awesome it is to be a fan.

That might sound weird, but cheering is not only discouraged it’s not allowed where I sit or stand for games. I am doing a job. Emotion isn’t part of that. But twice in the last three days, I was able to be a fan. I attended WNBA Seattle Storm games. I cheered, yelled and remembered how good it felt to do all those things.

Sometimes sports fans want to talk to their feelings sometimes they just want to yell. I encourage you to embrace all of the emotions and the conversations that sports bring your way this week. Here are a few conversation starters to get things going. 

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Getting Better at Giving Feedback

business communication Jun 11, 2023

You mean well. It's said with the best intent. Which is why it feels like you’ve been blindsided when it backfires.

Giving false praise leads to confusion, fall out, and challenges in giving feedback.

Every time you say "Great job!" when what you should have said was "Thank you for getting the job done" you set yourself up to fail in future conversations. 

Those are the hard hitting facts right out of the gate, but I'm willing to bet most of us default to saying "Great job!" throughout the day, but do you mean it? Was it really a great job? Did that person go above and beyond? Or did they do the job they were hired to do?

I could keep writing words to describe what I'm talking about, but I think it would be more helpful to watch the video because sports gives us a very clear picture of what accurate praise and feedback sounds like. 

Let me just reiterate that you don't do anyone any favors by giving false praise.

I remember a well-meaning stadium employee who was...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversatioin starters Jun 04, 2023

I initially deleted the Google alert and then sorted through the trash bin to recover a short writeup of the Mariners win against the NY Yankees Wednesday night at T-Mobile park. The game went to extra innings. Catcher Cal Raleigh drove in the game-winning run and then joined me for the postgame interview. And here is how it was described:

“A subdued Cal Raleigh joined ROOT Sports Northwest’s Jen Mueller afterward, deflecting credit and talking about Seattle’s pitching in the win…”

I don’t know that subdued is the word I would use. He didn’t show the same level of emotion as the fans in the building, but there were contributing factors.

He’s an introvert who just got doused with two ice cold Gatorade buckets full of water (which is a shock to the system.) In that particular interview there was such awful and extreme audio feedback in the stadium it was difficult to hear and concentrate.

People aren’t always going to react the...

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