Monday, June 24, 2013

Laughs and Lattes - Coffee with the Masters - Tim Ferrell, Before You Speak

Coffee with the Masters -Tim Ferrell
OK, I admit - I was a bit nervous setting up this coffee date.  Why? I'm not sure.  Mostly because Tim Ferrell has been someone I have been wanting to chat with for a long time, and now, I finally had my chance.  I have admired Tim's work ever since I watched MyHoney take the stage nearly five years ago in the Portland's Funniest Professional Contest, knowing that Tim was the man who coached him, and I laughed until my sides hurt.  More importantly, I was impressed by the students - ordinary average people - who had become brave, funny, bold and daring in just eight short weeks.  This guy, I knew, was not only a Master of Laughter -but he is a Master at transforming people into performers.

I've been in Toastmasters a long time, and have studied professional comedians as they deliver their lines.  Quality writing, timing, impromptu, laugh counts - it's all a beautifully orchestrated event, and when done properly can leave an audience in stitches and repeating one-liners for days, weeks, even years to come.  There isn't a person alive who doesn't know Who's on First.  So, to be able to sit and pick the brain of the Master of Comedic Delivery and Performance - Tim Ferrell - was indeed - a treat.

Funny thing was (excuse the pun) - Once I finally got the man behind the mic in front of me, I drew  a blank of all the things I wanted to ask him and was just enthralled to sit and listen to his stories - his incredible stories that paint a picture of lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, triumphs, ah-ha moments, and success.

Tim Ferrell
Tim started out just like any other success story, really.... on a dare.  I mean - don't we all start out that way?  His friends dared him to get up on stage, try out a few lines, and he said "sure."  He grinned slyly as he leaned forward and admitted to me "getting a couple laughs was addictive"... The rest is history.  He went on to to perform comedy in clubs all over NYC, and then began managing one.

"Thing was, as the comics got off the stage, they would always ask me how they did.... so I would tell them.  After a while, I became known as the guy who gave pointers on how to make their sets better.  Finally, someone said to me - you outta do this for a living"  So, he began running comedy workshops, and has been transforming ordinary, average people into humorous, bring-down-the-house, confident laugh creators.

"It's just one of my passions to see other people do well."

Tim - what are the most valuable keys to success you want people to know? (Finally - my star-struck self started to remember some questions I wanted to ask!)

"Be willing to fail - because no matter what, you are going to make it.  The audience, your clients, your family and friends WANT you to succeed."

What do you tell people who think they wouldn't be any good?

"Give yourself permission to suck - a little bit.  No one is brilliant right out of the gates - work on yourself, and don't take criticism personally."

Laughs & Lattes - Coffee with the Masters

What do you tell people who get disheartened and want to give up?

"You need to pay your dues - You need to ask yourself, 'what can I do today to move forward' - even by just a little bit.  A good comedian makes stand-up look effortless, but it's work.  At the end of a set, an audience won't even remember your name.  They will remember you by material you said. They will say things like 'remember the guy who said the thing about the cat....'   You have to be willing to be THAT guy.  Be willing to take a chance."

Be the doorman for when opportunity knocks, be willing to take a chance, pay your dues, and no matter what - don't take yourself too seriously.  Keys to Success from the Master of Laughs - Tim Ferrell.

After we wrapped up, I walked out to the parking lot and sat in my car to review my notes.  For an interview with an amazingly funny man, I have a lot of serious business building material here.  He gave me pointers on how to improve my own stage presence.  He recommended always stepping out from behind the podium so you are in front of your audience.  He gave me pointers to improve my video blogs - such as to never sit down when presenting (unless you are being interviewed), keep your eyes on the camera (or person you are talking to), and simplify your message - "less is always more" Tim said.  I was excited for my next chance to get on stage to try his tips and techniques that would really bring my audience in... and for me, that is no joke. 

If you are interested in learning more about Tim Ferrell, and how adding humor to your presentations can boost your business - watch his presentation on Vimeo:

If you would like to learn how to work with Tim Ferrell either via workshop or one-to-one coaching -check out his website:

"Laughs and Lattes" is an installment of  the "Coffee with the Masters." Series.   If you are a business owner in the Greater Portland Area who would like to chat over cup of coffee to share your keys to success and how to reach your Key Potential - please contact me.  I'm buying!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Make Your Summer Sizzle

AH... Summer in Maine... the sweet smell of cut timothy and clover as I drive down the country roads brings me back in my mind to the hot summer days I spent throwing hay bales on my dads farm.  Summer meant hard work, but it also meant swimming, fishing, and biking.  It was a perfect mix of work hard and play hard.  Perhaps my up bringing is where I first tapped into my passion of work-life balance because nothing brought me more pleasure than finishing up  a hard days work and following it up by an evening of swimming, barb-b-ques and baseball.

Its natural for many business owners to slow down in the summertime -the weather is perfect for the beach, kids are home from school, and there are many summer outings like family reunions, graduations, and weddings to attend.  So how can you keep the momentum of building your business up, while slowing your personal life down?
I have comprised a list things that you can do this summer to keep your business sizzling while you cool down.

1) READ. Summer is the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee in the morning and start your day out on the deck with a good book. I have a few summer favorites this year - including:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg ... Take the time to read this book.  Sheryl explains why women aren't rising to the top -and the answers may surprise you.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo.  This came highly recommended to me by a friend, and it hasn't disappointed.  The author brings us through step by step how Steve Jobs put together his presentations so that his audiences were begging him to sell them his products.

2)  Write - Summer is a great time to grab your journal and head to the beach and dream.  Dream about where you want to go, what you want to do, and what you want your business to provide for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Once you are back from summer vacation - bring your ideas to your coach so you can get them implemented.  What a great time to clear your mind.

3)  Network - With all the summer barbeques and open decks at your favorite cantinas are open - don't miss an opportunity to build relationships.  Is there a prospect you've been dying to do business with, but haven't had a chance to get five minutes with him?  Invite him out for a lively game of golf, a cruise of Casco Bay, or a walk around back bay.  Summer is a great time to connect, because chances are, the people you want to connect with are eager to slow down too.

4) Check In  - Check in with your accountability partner.  Sounds like work doesn't it?  But just like when kids are out of school, if we get into "vacation mode" too long, it can be hard to bring yourself back.  Do it gently by making plans to stay in touch with your coach, mentor or accountability partner through out the summer months.  

Summer sessions are still available at Key Potential Coaching - and coaching can be done from your chair on the beach!  To check availability, or to get a free summer session - click HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Family That Picks Together, Sticks Together...

That was my Dad's mantra for our family business for years.  When I was 8, the mantra would irritate me more than the ragweed that made my eyes water as we hunched over the 14 acres of rutabagas and hand weeded each row.  Once weeding was done, we would pull in around 1300 hay bales before finally calling it a day.  With sore muscles, tanned faces, and dirt under our nails, we would join around the dinner table and eat the casserole my mom creatively stretched to feed her family of five, plus at least five more of the hired hands.  The crew ate with us so often that I actually thought one of them was my brother, and was heartbroken to learn that he just worked for us .. but really, in a family business, more often than not, the employees become just as important as each family member.

Mornings began with tight muscles and high expectations.  Nights fell with a satisfying empty field, and the anticipation of having to do it all over again tomorrow. Dad would recant the day with us at the dinner table, and I always felt important when he discussed the crew members with us -the challenging ones, the funny ones, the non-memorable ones (what was his name again?)... I felt grown up, and part of the management team.  I think even my Dad had a hard time remembering we were, in fact, just kids.

As I watched my Dad lead, I learned to be a leader.  I watched him handle the disputes of disgruntled employees and hot and bothered hay customers.  At market, I watched him humbly hop back in his truck and drive back to the farm with a load of rejected produce. (rejected only because the buyer screwed up the order)....  I beamed with pride when I witnessed my Dad throw in a few extra rutabagas or vegetables into a person's car when he knew they were having hard times.  I smile to this day when I pull into the door yard and see my Dad walking up from the fields, and pause as he gets lost in thought as he gazes at the rolling green hills which are his pride and joy. 

And now, as a business owner, I marvel at his ability to weather the storms that washed away his hard work, his strength to keep going despite setbacks, and his faith to keep praying for rain, and just enough sun.  Often, I reach down deep to pull out some of that Hansen stubbornness and tenacity that has kept my Dad going for nearly 50 years as a business owner.  I apply his principles of customer service, pride in your product, humility, humanity, and family values to my own business every day.  I can safely say, it's made me not only a better person, but a better business owner myself.

So, while my Dad's mantra is "A family that picks together, sticks together...." I have to say not only is that true - but also, a Dad who teaches his daughter to lead, will help her to succeed.  Thanks Dad.

Did you grow up in a family business?  What life lesson's did you learn that you'd like to share?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Picture Perfect - Coffee with the Masters - Joanne Lee, Joanne Lee Photography

Almost seemed silly calling this coffee date "work" because when you get together with Joanne Lee, of Joanne Lee Photography, you are getting together with a friend.  As soon as I walked into The Local Buzz - Cape Elizabeth's newest hot-spot for coffee lovers, I got a warm hug from Ms. Lee.  It's been way too long my friend since we have got together.  I had the pleasure of first meeting Joanne Lee when she photographed me and MyHoney's first family portraits, and my first professional head-shot.  Our dogs were charmed by Joanne, and despite the fact that all Lexi, my little white Shepard-mix wanted to do was sit in her lap, she got some amazing shots.  |

So here is the deal.  I am a blogger who writes about getting together with local amazing business owners and chatting over a cup of coffee to discover how they reached their success - their Key Potential.... and I have decided to quit drinking coffee. Irony right?  After watching the barista make an amazing latte with a glorious leaf design for another patron, I gathered up my will power and ordered a lovely salad - and a water.  I walked back to the table and joined Joanne, and girl talk commenced for another 30 minutes as I munched on my salad, and got caught up with my old friend.

Pushing my plate away, and looking at my blank notepad, I realized I needed to get to the interview  - even though Joanne had already given me so much to write about!  Joanne is interesting, funny, and so talented - she adores her family, her face lights up when she talks about her hubby and two boys,  and how she loves to watch them play baseball.  Her eyes sparkle when she goes back into her memory and talks about a couple she recently photographed who had been searching for each other for 40 years before finally getting together, and getting blissfully married after all these years.....   I could see it all, and she never showed me her portfolio, or any of her photographs.  She didn't need to - the way she described it, I was there.

"It's not just about the photographs - it's about the story...."  I nodded as she smiled, and I felt emotional as she continued to describe the magic she encounters behind the lens of her camera.  "I'm allowed into peoples most intimate moments... from the bride having that last talk with her dad before walking down the aisle..... to taking a newborns first picture - I take that privilege and honor very seriously." 

Joanne's clients are not just clients - they become family.  "They invite me to photograph their wedding, then their first, second and third babies - family portraits, graduations... "  She told me that once a bride and groom took her to the Bahamas to photograph their wedding because there were no quality photographers they knew, liked or trusted there - so she went along with them to shoot their wedding.  Joannes personality is so comfortable and relaxed, I can see why that arrangement would be so comfortable for both her and the newlyweds.

Leaning in, I inquired  "Joanne, what do you contribute to your success?" 

"Well, obviously hard work and dedication - but also I listen.  I listen to the needs and wants of my clients, but I also listen to their story.  It is my job to capture their story - I won't be there later to narrate - the pictures need to speak for themselves - their story needs to come out of the photographs in a way that is moving and meaningful.  My favorite thing to hear when someone is looking at a picture of their child and they say "OH - that is SO Joey" or Justine....  That means I captured the very essence of their child.  It's important to spend time with my clients to get to know them, listen to their story, and capture it so it is reflected back for them to see for themselves"

"What is the key to being able to do that, Joanne?"

"I am always learning.  I have mentors that I think highly of, and ask them to give me feedback on my images.  I take classes in the newest techniques of lighting, contrast and art.  It is very important to me to continue to grow as an artist.... but most importantly - I like to take pictures for fun..."

She went on to tell me about renting a photo studio just to take photographs with her niece as the model - when asked by another photographer the motive for the shoot, Joannes response was "Oh, we are just having fun..." Puzzling the fellow photographer because of all the production and art that Joanne had brought to the shoot.  "It was just for fun.  I need to be fulfilled as an artist to grow as a business owner." 

Joanne - thank you for sharing your keys to reaching your potential.  Listening to your clients so you can capture their stories, continually learning as a business owner and as an artist, and having fun, so that you remained fulfilled so you can continue to grow.  That, right there, is the picture perfect formula for success. 

"Picture Perfect" is an installment of  the "Coffee with the Masters." Series.   If you are a business owner in the Greater Portland Area who would like to chat over cup of coffee to share your keys to success and how to reach your Key Potential - please contact me.  I'm buying!