Mindfulness, Myths, and More!

I will admit that seeing the title of Mindful Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Barry Boyce, recent email blast: 5 things people get wrong about mindfulness, an immediate thought came to mind, “Yeah, I can think of more than 5.”

Noticing my immediate thought, I made the decision to take a mindful pause from my day and read the article. No expectations; just to see what he says.  See, I have a trigger about mindfulness which is: mindfulness in recent years has become so popular, that it’s also become very distorted.  This distortion increased confusion and does harm to the good that mindfulness practice provides. Also, the distortion and perpetuated myths trigger me.

Mindfulness has become perceived as this “practice” this “thing” that we “do,” and schedule time to “do,” where we sit cross-legged on some fluffy cushion in silence for hours, even a full day, and then go brag about it to the rest of the world.  The sitting on the cushion practice especially irritates me.  As a mindfulness and stress consultant, I practice and teach with the value of inclusion; Mindfulness is for everyone and not dependent on form such as sitting on a cushion cross-legged.  And frankly, images of mindful practice sitting on a cushion excludes people with physical disabilities such as neuropathy from diabetes to paralysis, Parkinson’s, and other physical limitations.  Heck, after the birth of my kids, sitting for too long, my hips start barking and I gladly reach for a high-density foam roller. And yet, I “practice” mindfulness every day. Wherever I am.  In any moment. Cushion-free.  🙂

I was a subscriber to Mindful.  But then with each issue, came again an image of a person sitting on a cushion; Which is an image often associated with practicing meditation.  Well, until I saw Vinny Ferraro, from Mindful Schools. I was thrilled to see Vinny’s head-shot on the cover of Mindful.  No cushion.  Just Vinny.  Just being. Taking classes with Mindful Schools and interacting with their educators and fellow mindful peers, I gave Mindful magazine a second chance.  After all, don’t we all deserve a second chance? Yeah. I believe so.

And in the moment of seeing Barry’s email, all of these thoughts that you’ve just read came flooding into my awareness.

So, I took a mindful pause and purposefully read.  And you know what? He’s spot on. Barry brings to our awareness common myths and misconceptions about mindfulness. He details each myth, calls out why it’s a myth, and then adds his (or Mindful Magazine’s) version of truth and reality. My only recommendation is to be mindful when using the terms “meditation” and “mindfulness” with the phrase “mindful meditation.” Clear and concise writing is essential when addressing myths to illustrate the intent because it’s not clear if he intends to use mediation and mindfulness as interchangeable terms. It looks that way, but I am not sure.  Perhaps Barry will address this in his next post.

I applaud Barry and Mindful for their public efforts to bring clarity to a mucky situation. With great wisdom comes great responsibility.  Sometimes that responsibility includes setting things straight.  Bravo! And yeah, I look forward to tomorrow and Myth 3.

The Messy Meaning of Mindfulness

Mindfulness. The word is getting attention.  The meaning of the word is getting attention.  Take Mindful Magazine’s recent response to New York Times’ “The Muddied Meaning of Mindfulness.” I read both articles.  I will admit that my first learning of the two articles came as an email from Mindful Magazine landing in my inbox; I’m a subscriber.  However, as a stress expert, mindfulness trainer, practical mindfulness research-practitioner and Founder at Mindful Effect, the great debate regarding the word ‘mindfulness’ and its meaning is in the forefront of everything I do at Mindful Effect as the meaning – both formally and socially constructed means are more than the 10,000+ lakes in Minnesota.  Maybe that’s a bit embellished but one cannot argue that too many definitions of one word exists.  And that in itself causes a lot of confusion, misconception, tension, and stress.

TheMessyMeaningofMindfulness-1

Reading both articles, I found myself not siding with one powerful position over the other.  Instead, I found myself siding with both; agreeing on points from Ms. Virginia Heffernan’s as mindfulness has become an “American Brand” and whose cynicism is appreciated as she calls our attention to the shadowed elephant of mindfulness. In as much, Mindful Magazine’s Publisher, James Gimian, and Editor-in-Chief, Barry Boyce, point out the many benefits and social contributions of mindfulness yet, they do not answer their own question: “Does it mean its meaning is muddied?”

I believe the meaning of mindfulness is more than muddied.  I believe it’s gotten messy. Regardless of what I believe, the proof is in the pudding.  Just Google the words “mindful” and “mindfulness” and see the number of hits related to definitions.  Better yet, for folks with access to peer-review journal articles (yes, I know…my doc side had to include this in here) such as any within the American Psychological Association, conduct a search within any academic database and again, many articles appear with authors positioning a crafted definition.

However, is this really the best use of our time – to engage in an infinite loop of definition positioning? Or should our awareness and attention be directed to the field and practice of mindfulness?

Mindfulness as a field, practice, and industry is unregulated.  Anyone can pick up a book and read works from Drs. Kabat-Zinn or Langer, conduct a Google Search, and the next day put out a shingle and claim they are a mindfulness coach, trainer, expert, consultant…you get the idea.

Where I tend to error on the side of caution is linking everything back to the moral obligation and ethics of “do no harm.” Yes.  As with any field of study and practice, moral and ethical practices exist.  However, mindfulness is a young mainstream modern concept. I am not saying that it hasn’t existed for many years.  I am saying that the term and practice is more in the forefront today than in previous years. Which begs me to ask fellow practitioners, researchers, teachers, and the media these questions:

  1. What and who will establish the ground rules of mindfulness to ensure science and practice upholds “do no harm?”
  2. Will mindfulness become muddied, inconsistent, and lack consensus similar to other professions such as Organization Development?
  3. Will the hording and positioning of “who came up with it first” continue to cloud progress?
  4. How will continued studies, formal and informal, maintain sound methodologies and methods standards to make valid claims and call to attention ad hoc?
  5. Will Cosmopolitan-like (sorry, Cosmo) magazine quizzes pose as valid when in reality make false claims which then readers take as truths and factual information; and then show to their primary care physician/psychotherapist (gasp!)?
  6. What, if anything, will be done to prevent preying “practitioner” behavior as this industry is directly linked to people who may be vulnerable due to mental health challenges such as depression, PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, and addiction? What about working with children, the elderly, veterans, and people with special needs?

While I can see both sides of Mindful Magazine and New York Times’ articles, I would like to point out, while the great debate continues, perhaps our awareness needs to focus less on the disparities of what mindfulness is and is not and focus more on how we can create a structure to an industry and practice, develop what the structure would look like along with its components, implement standards of practice housed similarly to the American Medical Association, integrate these standards into education and academic institutional programs such as with UMASS, all the while providing a lot of help to people around the globe.

I believe it’s time to become mindful of where our awareness and attention is targeted, identify and understand our triggers which create an auto-pilot of continued confusion and debate, identify the overall purpose of mindfulness, and continue to let our awareness guide us with an ethical practice of service to others.  I mean…what could be wrong with that?

 

Corporate Policies Gone Bad

Corporate policies. Every company has them, every leadership team develops them.  Once developed, employees are spoon-fed and even become cheerleaders of their company’s policies.  Employees take pride in memorizing and knowing by heart these policies! Corporate policies offer structure, a consistent way of doing things, ease of training during the on boarding process, and can even support strategic initiatives.  These all seem within reason and good business decisions, right?  Yes and no.  Yes, when they solve problems, provide guidance and structure, and are adaptable.  No, when corporate policies backfire quicker than Cher’s backhand to Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck providing a “snap out of it” wake-up call to both the customer, company  and the company.  Where might , you ask,  does this happen?  In the front lines…in customer service.

Have you ever called a company call center with a problem and were given the candid answer of, “I’m sorry, Miss, but our company policy is……” Yet, what the customer hears is, “I’m not going to solve your problem.”

I experienced two of these situations this week (hence, which prompted me to write this blog).  My first problem that I needed solving was with our home’s HVAC system.  In Minnesota, while it’s not snowing yet (yes, giggle if you will) we did experience a 40+ degree temperature drop.  The day I went to turn on the heat there was nothing.  Okay. Not a problem.  I pay for an extra service with our energy provider that allows us access to 24/7/365 emergency service.  When scheduling the customer service person suggested I check the batteries of the thermostat (that’s nice…thinking of possible solutions) and scheduled us for the earliest appointment on Sunday.  Again, I didn’t think it was a problem…we’d bundle up and get cozy and Sunday was only a few days away.  I did replace the batteries and still no change.

Then in typical Minnesota fashion, the temperature dropped even further.  Regardless if the body feels a drop from 100 to 60 degrees or 70 to 36 degrees, the first time during a season – it’s COLD!  Our house temperature was 65 degrees and tonight the temps are expected to drop even further.  Not a problem, (right?), as I thought I’d just call the utility company back and take advantage of our pre-paid emergency service.   WRONG!  When on the phone with customer service I explained that I’d like to receive same day service and was told, “We are not servicing same day heat or furnace related calls yet as it’s before our winter season service date.  The temperatures are not below freezing.” What?  Then I kindly (yes, I was kind and didn’t turn into Medusa) replied that I pay for this service and would like to get someone out today.  Again, I got the customer service representative proudly regurgitating company policy and she even said, “This is our company policy.” Did she provide me with a solution?  No.  Did she care?  No and that was clear from her tone.  Was she doing her job?  She was doing what she’s been told to do and say. What did I do?  I told her she wasn’t providing me with a solution and asked to speak to a manager.

The manager came on the line, confirmed my account, and then made the comment, “yeah, the recent drop feels really cold.  Would you mind holding for a moment and I’ll speak to a dispatcher to see if we can get out servicing you sooner.”  Wow!  This team lead lady made me feel like at least she heard and understood my problem and was doing something to help to solve it.  When she came back on the line I was told someone would come out today.  Which is great.  Problem solved.

As a business owner though, I cringe at this company policy.  It will deter current customers from renewing this extra option which means loss of customers which means loss of renewing revenue – OUTCH! I’d say to the company leaders: go back and review these corporate policies and create something that solves your customer’s problems (not to mention keeping those renewal revenues accumulating).

The second corporate policy fiasco this week was with scheduling tennis lessons.  While it might seem frivolous, those of you who’ve been reading my twitter feed know that I’ve recently taken tennis lessons which is all part of use-of-mindfulness-for-self; doing the things that you’ve “always” wanted to do is a common outcome of Mindful Living.  For me, one of those things is playing tennis and love it; it helps me reduce stress, I’ve gotten stronger, and it’s a nice way to connect with others.  At my gym, the fall tennis schedule came out and as a mom I’m juggling everyone’s schedules – thank goodness for my iPhone!

I contacted the tennis desk asking about the Saturday morning class.  The time is perfect and right after the kid’s swim classes which to me means let’s-get’it-done-efficiency.  The service person shared that the club wouldn’t start the class with only 1 person registering and the tennis manager would call to talk with me about the class.  Okay.  Cool.  NOT!  After  playing voice-mail tag and talking twice without a solution, then talking to 2 other instructors,  I was without a solution to the problem due to corporate policy.  Corporate policy dictates a minimum of 2 registered people to start a class.  Fine. My husband registered as the second person.  Oh, but wait…the company policies get better…each tennis pro manages their own schedules; one pro was not teaching on Saturday, another could teach but only 1 of the 4 classes, and the tennis manager offered me this, “well, I guess I could do some calling and see if we could get other people to join and then start a class…and I’ll have to find someone to teach….”  All of this back and forth volley was a waste of time.  One thing I don’t like to waste is time.

This company had a customer, not just 1 but 2 practically begging for tennis lessons saying, “PLEASE TAKE OUR MONEY – WE WANT TO BUY” and yet the club lost 2 sales because of corporate policies and because their people could not provide a solution to solve their customer’s problem.  Does the problem still exist?  Nope.  I came up with an alternative and “bought” from someone else.  Would I have preferred buy from my club?  You bet.  But given the situation, I got creative and solved my own problem.  Will I buy from them again?  I’m not sure.  As a business owner, again, I cringe at seeing these types of situations where employees hold to their heart corporate policies that do the exact opposite of what’s intended, that create more problems, provide dissatisfaction instead of a WOW customer experience, and bleed the company’s revenue sources.  Club leaders take note – this isn’t working….

In practical mindfulness, sticking to something that no longer serves its purpose, no longer works, and adds to problems…that’s called “mindlessness.”  Other terms and phrases to describe “mindlessness” are “lights are on but no one’s home,” “zombie,” and auto-pilot.  These corporate policy situations are examples of “mindlessness.”   When employees lack of awareness they become mesmerized (heck, hypnotized) by corporate policies that don’t work and contribute to the already stack of business problems organizations face every single day.  So, be mindful, be aware, people.  Reevaluate corporate policies, reflect, and answer questions such as:  what’s created to work and is it working, what’s being done because we’ve been told to, does it make sense (really?), does it solve our customer’s problems, and if not, then change it!  Create corporate policies where employees can be mindful and aware, that solve customer problems, and provide both financial (renewals) and non-financial (wowed customers) rewards to the organization.

 

 

 

Some Facts About Stress

Everyone experiences stress and yet there is a lot of information floating around about stress.  Some of the information is correct while some information is incorrect.  Just yesterday I read an article from a Twitter link that was clearly incorrect.  I thought about responding to the Twitter feed and including a source that would have invalidated the article.  However, I decided to post a blog that shares accurate information.  Also, the situation reaffirmed my commitment to producing sound scientific research in an applied environment, adhering to the ethics and practice of “do no harm,” and to share this information for the betterment and legacy of people, organizations, societies and our planet.

So, here are some facts about stress:

  •  For over 9 decades, studies of stress have been gaining popularity within the behavioral, social, and health sciences. The term stress originated from the field of physics to denote how manmade structures must resist deformation caused by external forces. In physics, stress referred to the external pressure or force applied to a structure, while strain denoted the resulting internal distortion of the structure (Hinkle, 1974). Borrowing the term from physics to apply it to the behavioral sciences, Hans Selye (1974) adopted the term stress and changed its usage to mean circumstances that place physical or psychological demands on an individual. Historically, the three main theorists of stress are physiologist Walter Cannon, endocrinologist Hans Selye, and psychologist Richard Lazarus.
  • Stress means different things to different people; therefore, there are several definitions of the term.  Stress researcher Hans Selye (1974) defined stress as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it” (p. 14).  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defined job stress as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 1999, p. 7).
  • Stress at work leads to a variety of consequences for both the employee and the organization.  In a 2011 study conducted by The American Psychological Association, 70% of Americans indicated that work was a significant source of their stress: a consistent finding of the past 5 years (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011). Another study conducted by NIOSH (1999) showed that 40% of employees indicated their jobs were very or extremely stressful.
  • Just as in the United States, workplace stress is a common problem worldwide. In a 2011 study conducted by The American Psychological Association, 70% of Americans indicated that work was a significant source of their stress: a consistent finding of the past 5 years (American Psychological Association [APA], 2011). Another study conducted by NIOSH (1999) showed that 40% of employees indicated their jobs were very or extremely stressful. While the United States and the Netherlands place more work demands on employees requiring longer working hours (Kenny & Cooper, 2003), countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom are finding that stress is a major contributor to employee disease, depression, and injury, and lowered company productivity (Price, 2004; Ryan & Watson, 2004).
  • The financial impact of workplace stress also affects businesses all around the globe. Workplace stress is estimated to cost United States organizations more than $300 billion dollars every year in lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and medical, legal, and insurance costs (Rosch, 2001). In Canada, the issue of workplace stress costs 6 billion Canadian dollars annually (Price, 2004). Further, the United Kingdom reports that an estimated 200 million working days each year are lost due to illnesses caused by workplace stress (Ryan & Watson, 2004). Additional financial effects include employee lawsuits for workplace stress with monetary awards (Rosch, 2001), an increase in workers’ compensation, and an increase in disability claims (NIOSH, 1999). These and other reports suggest that workplace stress is a growing global epidemic.
  • To address workplace stress, many organizations have responded by integrating stress management interventions (SMIs) such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs (Kabat-Zinn, 1990) and relaxation techniques such as breathing practices, meditation, guided imagery, and yoga (Feldman, Greeson & Senville, 2010; Schure, Christopher & Christopher, 2008). The purpose of these programs is to improve the workplace environment and reduce employee stress. Although they have been proven effective and continue to gain interest, these programs are not part of current standard business practices. One proposed reason for this is that executives require interventions to be effective and inexpensive, and require low time investment with an immediate change (Applebaum, 1975; Burke, 2008; Kotter, 1996). Secondly, in order to measure effectiveness, today’s researchers, clinicians, human resource professionals, and OD consultants use traditional quantitative surveys and questionnaires that were developed and validated 15-25 years ago (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961; Brantley, Waggoner, Jones & Rappaport, 1987; Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983; Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Rosenberg, 1965; Vitaliano, 1985). While they are practical to use within business environments, these survey measurements are outdated and do not represent today’s workforce, organization, and global economy.

So, what can we do about this? Well, for starters this is one of the reasons why I built a company founded from my doctoral research.  Our continued applied research is scientifically sound, practical, and uses an innovative device for stress measurement.  Our proprietary processes are proven to reduce employee stress and increase employee well-being as well as increase performance and productivity. To find out more or request a complementary consultation, contact us at info@debralindh.com.

References:

American Psychological Association. (2011). Stress in America: Our health at risk. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/final-2011.pdf

Applebaum, S. (1975). Management development and organizational development: An integrative approach, Business and Society, 16(1), 25-30. doi:10.1177/ 000765037501600104

Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561-571. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710120031004

Brantley, P. J., Waggoner, C. D., Jones, G. N., & Rappaport, N. B. (1987). A daily stress inventory: Development, reliability, and validity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 10(1), 61-73.

Burke, W. (2008). Organization change: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385-396.

Feldman, G., Greenson, J., & Senville, J. (2010). Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts, Behavior Research and Therapy, 48, 1002-1011. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2010.06.006

Hinkle, L. E. (1974). The concept of “stress” in the biological and social sciences. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 5(4), 335-357. doi:10.2190/91DK-NKAD-1XP0-Y4RG

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Review Press.

Kenny, D. T., & Cooper, C. L. (2003). Introduction: Occupational stress and its management. International Journal of Stress Management, 4, 275-279. doi:10.1037/1072-5245.10.4.275

Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). Maslach Burnout Inventory: MBI.–. Consulting psychologists press.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (1999). Stress at work. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/pdfs/99-101.pdf

Price, C. (2004). Workplace stress costs billions. Benefits Canada, 28(12), 83.

Rosch, P. J. (Ed.). (2001, March). The quandary of job stress compensation. Health and Stress, 3, 1-4.

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSE). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Measures Package, 61.

Ryan, D., & Watson, R. (2004). A healthier future. Occupational Health, 56, 20-21.

Schure, M., Christopher, J., & Christopher, S. (2008). Mind-body medicine and the art of self-care: Teaching mindfulness to counseling students through yoga, meditation, and qigong, Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 47-56. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6678.2008.tb00625.x

Selye, H. (1974). Stress without distress. London, England: Transworld.

Vitaliano, P. P., Russo, J., Carr, J. E., Maiuro, R. D., & Becker, J. (1985). The ways of coping checklist: Revision and psychometric properties. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 20(1), 3-26.

 

 

Change…

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Change.  Looking up the word ‘change’ generated over 2 million search hits on Google.  It’s time for change.  Over the next few weeks and even months, the Dr. Debra Lindh website will be going through, well, change.  Yes, this is true.  Change is often difficult to embrace.  Some people do embrace change, while others shy away and even some completely avoid change.  I’m fully embracing this change.  Thinking of change, these quotes came to mind, “when one door closes, another opens,” “a chapter ends, and another begins,” and “things do not change, we change.”   At the same time, thinking of change has brought these songs to mind:  Don’t Go Changing by Billy Joel, Roll With the Changes by REO Speedwagon, and Changes by David Bowie.

I found it interesting that as I planned for change, I noticed that change was already happening.  Everything from planning out the changes, the details, meeting with people to discuss ideas, and putting into place some of the ‘doing’ items.  So, what exactly is changing with the website, what does it look like, and what does it mean for you?  Here are some of the answers:

  1. Stress.  The Dr. Debra Lindh website is a resource for stress research and consulting; particularly in the areas of occupational stress and employee wellness at the individual, group, and organization levels. This means that sharing of current research, case studies, and publications as well as other resources.
  2. AIR.  This is an acronym for the process known as AIRwhich means: Assess, Integrate, Results.  This is the type of work I provide: to assess stress, integrate a stress reduction intervention, and measure results.  Why integrate and not implement? I recently said to someone, “Implement means to do.  Integrate means to become.” Thus, people learn a new still that becomes part of them which then reduces stress.
  3. Quantum OD.  Quantum ODinvolves the application of integrating energy-based practices rooted in quantum physics and cultural traditions from Asia, Europe, and the United States to promote transformation and development for individuals, groups, and organizations.  Quantum ODworks with subtle energies associated with intuition, consciousness, and energetic levels.  These energy-based practices are recognized and practiced by colleagues in organization development as well as psychology and recognized by professional associations such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.

Other changes and additions are part of the planning. The above list is a few details with more to come.  Of course, on Twitter I continue to share “Mindfulness Monday” and “Mindfulness Tip” postings as well as supporting images on Pinterest.

Hobby Turned Business

Labor Day.  What did you do on this holiday?  Some people worked.  Some spent time with their families and friends to celebrate the last weekend of Summer.  The day for me was filled with a blend of preparing for back-to-school, time with family, and reflection; reflection of what Labor Day means with recent awareness and conversations; primarily asking the questions: Is your job a job or is it something you love to do?  Is there something you love to do that you wish could turn into a business?

Reading articles about employee satisfaction and engagement, job satisfaction, and social media postings about people’s thoughts about their jobs often times the revealed information is that most people find a job just a job and not very fulfilling. Which means that most people aren’t really doing what they want to do or enjoy doing.  Of course, there are many reasons why, however, there’s always another way to do things.

Ask people about their hobbies and they’ll share interests from custom making bbq sauces, competitive bbq cooking, canning, custom auto-motorcycle painting, woodworking, cake decorating, knitting, singing, photography, fashion blogging…the lists go on.  The one consistent factor about all of these conversations is how the person’s tone of voice and excitement levels increase when talking about their hobbies. Their enjoyment of loving the hobby is very apparent as they talk at lengths about their loved interest.  So, here’s my question:  Can you turn your hobby into a business?

Now before you say “ah, yeah – no!” let’s think about some known people who did turn their hobby into a business.  The first person that comes to mind is the late Paul Newman with Newman’s Own salad dressings and other food items.  The story of how his hobby-turned-business is well known and an example of making a love of labor into a reality.

Another hobby-turned-business is Mrs. Field’s Cookies.  The story of Debbi Fields is inspiring to those with a skill they love to do and wish it could transform into a business.

Now while both of these examples are related to food many people posses a skill that’s their hobby which they love to do!

In these days of uncertainty, what skills or hobbies do you have?  Is there something that you love to do and wonder how to turn it into a business?  Think about it.  If the answer is yes, then learn from those who’ve done it!  Read up on their stories, learn from their successes/mistakes and put together a plan.  Who knows, the next inspiring hobby-turned-business story could be yours!

All the best,

Deb

 

 

 

Branding….You. Yes, YOU!

Branding.  How many articles are there about branding.  A lot.  Just do a search for the word “branding” and almost 200 million hits appear.  When thinking of branding, what comes to mind is product branding or company branding.  But what about branding you – yes, self branding? What does this mean?  How do I go about branding myself?

In a recent presentation, I talked with the participants about branding of self.  One participant shared she thought self-branding was about what she looked like, her clothes, and how she networked.  And she’s right – partially.

One of the key elements to self-branding is a great professional photograph.  Why?  First, at some point you’re going to need to submit a photograph to a workshop, media release, or for your website. And this photograph needs to show you at your best, reflect your essence, and be compatible with your self-branding – which is (should be already) part of your overall strategy.

I cringe when I see  workshops or conference guides and the keynote speaker’s photo was cropped from an obvious casual group photo.  Again, is this good self-branding?  Another place where people plug in personal photos is on the professional social network site LinkedIn.  We can do better.

But how do we find a photographer to take that professional photograph?  Who should we go to? I’ve had many photos taken.  I remember being out at the Golden Globes and seeing my photos from different photographers and knew that one day, I’d have a celebrity photographer take my professional photo!  The difference in how they capture a person is like going from deer-in-the-headlights to Wow!-is-that reeeeally ME?!.

In the Twin Cities, we are really lucky to have celebrity photographer, Brent Dundore, of BD Portraits part of our must-go-to for pictures.  Brent used to live in L.A. and has worked with many celebrities.  Now living back in the Twin Cities, I was able to schedule a meeting with him.  But before our shoot, Brent sent me a list of ideas, clothing and make up tips, as well as things that I didn’t even think about to know before our shoot.  Again, you don’t know what you don’t know but soon find out when working with an A-Lister photographer like Brent. Priceless!

The day of my shoot I had all my outfits and was ready to work.  At Brent’s south Minneapolis studio he greeted me like we were longtime friends, a cup of Mexican style coffee (yum!), and then I met Tress…his beautiful dog.

With the music going, Brent put my so serious side to ease and before I knew it I was laughing and dancing the whole shoot.  Brent would occasionally pause to look at his camera and show me real-time photos and I couldn’t believe how fabulous I looked!  His eye for capturing the essence of a person to support their goal of self-brand is beyond words.  Actually, I was so impressed with his skill and talents I had a very difficult time choosing which photos to buy.  Brent was great giving me feedback on how to categorize the photos for each purpose; amazing.

My second shoot (yes, he’s THAT fabulous) was with my family.  The last time my family had our photos taken was for my son’s baptism…that was over 5 years ago.  So, we were overdue.  Seeing Brent work with my kids – he’s like the pediatric photographer!  The kids love him!  He captured the softer side of my oh, so serious chess champion daughter…and the sweet side of my comical-go-lucky son.  Then is was time for all of us together…my husband and I were thrilled with our family pictures and again, faced which ones do we pick. Brent to the rescue…what’s our goals?  Well, to send to family living in Europe.  So, we have a set for us of particular pix and then another group to our family abroad.  Again, priceless!

If you are within the Twin Cities, I strongly suggest taking a peek at Brent’s work at BD Portraits as well as on his Facebook page and having a professional (let him know you read my blog…and no, he does not know I’m blogging about him – yet!).  Why do this?  Because in this world of branding and self-branding you need to work with someone who understands business, goals of self-branding, and who best to do that with than a celebrity photographer?

All the best,

Deb

Why I do What I do….

In my previous post, I wrote about T1, T2, and T3 networking.  Networking is never easy.  It can be very taxing especially for an inventor and/or entrepreneur. We only have so much time in a day to accomplish many tasks. However, we recognize it’s importance and value.

One promise I made to myself was to make time for others.  To walk the talk as a T3.  Although the past couple days have been very stressful, I find that through times of stress is when small reminders manifest and appear as reminders of “why I do what I do.”  Today is one of those days.  You see in the mail I received and unexpected note from the Minnesota Inventor’s Congress.  The note was handwritten from the one and only, Ms. Deb Hess.  Amazing.  I’ve know Deb for a few years now, and the MIC has been a keystone for me.  When Deb asked for my help, I didn’t even hesitate…I simply asked, “How and when do you need me?”

To some, a handwritten note is a small gesture. To me it’s huge. It means that someone took their time to thank me for what I do.  And what perfect timing?!  Ironic, my days have been stressful and then I receive this kind note out of the blue?  There is no such thing as coincidence. What a wonderful gift! Now, I need to get back to what I do….

All the best,

Deb

Networking – T1, T2, or T3?

If you’ve attended one of my workshops or heard me speak then you are familiar with what I mean by “paying it forward.”  For those reading this blog who’ve never seen me speak, then you’re in for a treat.  The meaning of “paying it forward” links to research I’ve conducted during my doctoral studies.  In one particular study, I was looking at different types of networking and devised a classification of networking types; T1, T2, and T3.

T1 and T2 are people who network that are in it for themselves; basically, what is the best interest for them and their goals. T1 is an individual who will use words like “need” as in “you need me.”  T2 are two people who know one another as colleagues and/or associates from related industries.  Examples of T2’s are the insurance professional and a financial services professional OR mortgage and real estate professionals who form a pact to help each other increase their businesses. Again, their best interests come first.

T3 people are connectors.  They are matchmakers. They know someone who will know someone (and this person is also a T3 connector).  They put people in touch with the right person who will help out.  Best yet, the T3 person has YOUR best interest at heart and are not working off of a self-serving initiative.

T3 people help people by paying-it-forward mainly because someone did the same for them!  They have no expectation of anything in return and will ask you to pay-it-forward when the time comes and someone asks you for help. T3’s enjoy seeing other people accomplish what “others” say cannot be done.  They bet on the underdog and see potential where “others” may see as unpromising.

How can you tell a T1, T2, and T3 apart?  Well, don’t get me wrong T1 and T2 people are very good at what they do…they’ve mastered being fast talkers, are typically articulate, and persuade people giving reasons to work with them.

BUT – there’s always a but.  Being a T3 is something a person cannot fake.  You either are or you are not.  It’s that simple…and that’s where T1’s and T2’s miss the boat…because it’s not their primary behaviors.  Their primary behaviors reflect for self interest…not for another person’s benefit. T1’s and T2’s will waste your time and money…

So, why am I bringing this up?  Simply because it annoys the heck out of me that greed and selfish behaviors are running rampant. Even after delivering a presentation about networking I was contacted by a person who was clearly a T1.  So, I called this person on it.  What did they say?  This person laughed and said, “Yeah, I guess I am.”  Pretty scary.

Again, one of the main reasons for my website is to share practical information.  Stuff that you can use right NOW…not later…but now.  So, strike up a conversation with someone “new” at a networking event and see for yourself – who are you meeting?  T1, T2, or T3? Happy networking!

All the best,

Deb

The Creation of Something New….

Change.  Change is good.  Change is scary.  Change is uncertain yet exhilarating.  Right? Well, it is if you’re an inventor, entrepreneur, a risk taker..someone who likes a challenge. That pretty much sums up life as Debra Lindh.  And one of the main reasons why I’ve decided it was time to change my website.  I’m always looking for ways to do things better.  The rapid changes of technology allow me to review and examine the “latest and greatest” techie gadgets.  Not to mention that my husband is a technology gadget person who is always saying, “Deb, you just gotta check out this ______(fill in the blank)!”  Generally, he is spot on!  I still cannot believe I held out so long on the purchase of my I-cannot-imagine-my-life-without-my-iPhone…it’s still mind boggling.

Typically, inventors and entrepreneurs are very much into the latest and greatest, however, at the same time we are extremely resourceful folks!  We take pride in making something out of nothing…or making something last way beyond it’s typical lifespan…which means sometimes we hold on to stuff because it’s stuff we made or have endured and made it do stuff beyond it’s capabilities.

Nonetheless, my first post is about creating something new…which is the official website for Debra Lindh.  Why did I create this?  Well, I needed a place for clients to see what I’m doing, a way for people to contact me, and a way for me to reach out to you!

What you’ll find from this site is various types of information, a lot of sharing, some lighthearted factoids, a bit of theory and research, and a lot of practical ways to use and apply the information.

So, please join me in celebrating a new milestone – post a comment, follow me on twitter connect on LinkedIn, or send an email!

All the best,

Deb