Friday, December 23, 2011

July 4th Birthday at Christmas in Airport

The best birthday in an airport I could ask for

Yes, my birthday is July 4th which makes me more patriotic than most, more proud to be an American than most and always cry during the national anthem or America The Beautiful. Imagine my surprise and my pride when departing from Midway airport in Chicago en route to NYC to spend the holidays with THE son:-) when I heard applause across the airport.

I was in line at a restaurant paying for a bottle of water when I turned to see what celebrity might be passing. Instead, I saw masses of people on the outer edges of the concourse part, like Moses parting the Red Sea (OK, it is Hanukah:-) so that groups of soldiers returning from Iraq could revel in the applause afforded to them by ordinary citizens. I felt like I just got the best holiday gift to be able to participate in that applause. OK, that's it, can't write anymore, crying again.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Last in Argentina:-(

Last Day in Argentina

We had a full day planned and actually got to do most of it. After our leisurely breakfast in the garden, we hit the ground running. Took a taxi to Plaza de Mayo, the center of Buenos Aires and immediately stopped at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in BA for some tea and scones (which puts my Brit pal, Chris into hog heaven:-)

Walked the city streets till we got to the government buildings, pink, I might add and took the photos de rigeur. It is one crowded bustling city. We walked and walked, been averaging 10 miles a day so feeling very righteous about the "fab" food as Chris would say that we have been indulging in. Hopefully it all balances out, pun intended.

From there we to walked to the Colon de Teatro, the famous opera house. We had wanted to cram in a ballet that was playing this week but you just can't do it all. There is so much to do here, we'll just have to come back:-) Then lunchtime, ah lunchtime. We were referred to Tomo 1 and we walked and walked and still couldn't find. When you are standing on a street holding a map, you don't have to ask anyone, they come over to you. The Argentinians are just the warmest, friendliest people ever. Finally, success and much to our surprise and delight, it was a beautiful, first class dining experience, white tablecloths and all. Great food, great service, great ambience and a perfect way to end our last lunch together.

Time for another taxi so the hotel next door called us a radio taxi. There are two types, the radio kind (safer) and the general kind (we never took). Apparently, there is much crime that thankfully we never saw. Pickpockets in the squares, cab drivers that take you the long way or the wrong way. Counterfeit money in exchange for your money and locks on every store door as you have to ring to get in or else security guards inside.

We wanted to go to Caminitos where the buildings are very colorful and tango dancers in the street but alas, alack, no time so we headed straight to the Faena Hotel and Spa for, you guessed it, a massage to end our trip with. Well...we were left breathless by this GORGEOUS hotel in all areas. It is one of the Leading Hotels of the world, 5 1/2 stars and up there with the best I have ever been to. We walked the hotel areas and each one more magnificent then the next, the pool, the restaurant, etc. Rooms start at $600 per night US. Got to the spa with a fitness center that put most US health clubs to shame. The spa was one of the most beautiful and classy I have ever been to (Sam says, I use infinite superlatives a lot, she is right:-) but truly it was and I have been to many spas. Took a sauna, then the relaxation room till called to massage. Here I go again, that was the BEST massage I ever had. She gets on the table and uses her knees, elbows, it was strong and just what I needed after two weeks of dancing and walking.

We were going to try to get to Caminitos on the way back but the city traffic was horrendous and we wanted to get our new coats as Chris is leaving early tomorrow. We got there just in time altho' mine had to be refitted. My leather jacket was custom made overnight at the leather factory...simply amazing. Now exhausted, we cancel our plans to dine at Casa Cruz and opt to eat at our hotel for the last time and it has a wonderful restaurant. It was a gorgeous night, weather wise so we ate outdoors which we had never done at night. It was perfect, again, white tablecloths, overhanging lights, gardenia bushes all around us, music playing, no one out there and a perfect ending to a perfect two week vacation with my Wales gal pal and travel buddy extraordinaire, Chris Leach, affectionately called Leachee Nut.

I leave tonight so the next blog will be back on US soil. Thanks for reading and keeping up with our trip, it's been fun to be able to journal this way as opposed to the "old days".

The trip was mucho bueno:-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ZAPATOS, ZAPATOS, ZAPATOS IN ARGENTINA!

Shoes,shoes,shoes...we are in shoe heaven and you know how I love shoes. OK, I digress..it was a shopping day, starting with our typical non Argentinian breakfast and it was oh so cold today. Cold in that people were wearing winter jackets, a fluke of a day, the wind was so strong, I thought I was in Chicago.

The goal of the day was "leather". Armed and dangerous, I had gathered a list of the best places to visit. I do a lot of research before I go on my international trips as to restaurants, shops, hotels, etc. I enjoy the planning, the tips from friends and strangers that I gather all year. At first we were disappointed but then, but then, but then...the last store was IT! A fur coat and leather jacket for us both. No guilt, we both worked our butts off this year. On the way back, we found so many great stores, I did all my holiday shopping here.

We had some "tourist" things planned but shopping got the best of us so we will cram it all in tomorrow. We took a lunch break at our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Clunys then back to the mall to exchange more money, the only place to do it. Back in time for our last private tango lesson, just can't seem to fit it all in. Goes back to that first week again which was all lost time, oh well, we'll just have to come back:-) I reiterate, the Argentine tango is the most difficult, most beautiful, most sensual dance I have ever tried to master...and I will. Got great new tango shoes to go home with to continue with lesson and milonga's (where they dance the tango) and practica's (where they practice the tango).

We were exhausted, we walked 10 miles today (wear my pedometer so I know). Went back to Clunys for dinner then treated ourselves to our last Freddo (oh the ice cream is as magnificent and the shoes, shopping, weather, people...

And to all a good night!

Hasta la Vista (sounds very arnold doesn't it?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gorgeous Latin Men in Argentina

Now that I have your attention, we have found none:-) However, they have the greatest ice cream and shoes so we are happy campers. The dollar and Chris's pound are so strong that everything from food to clothes are ridiculously cheap, for lack of a better word.

Today was very full and believe it or not, we started at the cemetery, a place everyone tells you that you must visit when coming here. It defies description, (and I'm too tired to post all my photo's) it was amazing. We turned left at Christ (sorry, did not mean to be sacrilegious, but that's exactly what we were told) to go and see Evita Peron's family vault, the Duarte family.

We then walked around Plaza Francia in the Recoleta district, the most upscale area in Buenos Aires and enjoyed tea at the famous leading hotel of the world, Alvealor Palace. We continued to walk (six miles today, I've been tracking with my pedometer) and with the gorgeous hot weather, we take the occasional outdoor cafe break. Chris with her agua con gas, me with my agua sin gas.

Tried to lunch at Gran Bar Danzon which was on my recommended list but it was closed for lunch as many are and a lot of restaurants don't even open till 8:30. From there we went to the most respected tango store, Comme il Faut and when the door opened it was packed with people and shoes everywhere. We didn't understand how to know what they were selling as there were no displays of shoes. What they do, is ask your size, then bring all they have in your size. I must have had 20 pair surrounding me. I couldn't decide between two so of course, I bought them both.

We dashed back to our hotel to change for our private tango lessons with Maricel and Aliel. After our first milonga, we found it so intimidating, we decided to take some privates at each of our own levels. It was fabulous and we should have done it everyday so we will now till we leave. We came back to the room in time to change for our nightly sessions at La Viruta and off we went. Had another two hours of tango lessons and practica then salsa. Ah, I was now in my element. Chris had never done it so she tried and loved it and I went right to the advanced class and was oh so happy. We danced till there wasn't a dry spot on our bodies then left to grab a bite to eat at Bar 6. A very long, very physical day, we are exhausted but exhilarated.

We laugh and laugh between her British words and my English ones. Here's a typical Chris sentence. It's cold in the room and I didn't bring my woolly jumper and I was running around in my knickers before. That tango show absolutely gobsmacked me but now I am knackered and must take a kip as your rabbiting has worn me out. You figure it out:-)

Lazy in Argentina

Today was a national holiday, (I have no clue how to write it) so everything was closed, forcing us to exhale and take our own holiday from running all over like the crazy tourista's that we are. So...we did our 6 mile walk or rather hike to the mall (no, not to shop) but it is the only place to exchange money and we seem to have to go there rather often:-) Not much to do so we were relegated to lie in the sun and oh, how I hate that. And if you believe that, than I have a piece of land to sell you on the water in Kansas:-)

After our sunbathing, we ventured into our neighborhood, which we love. Palermo Soho (and yes, the Soho is patterned after NY Soho) is filled with outdoor cafes, boutiques and people and more people wandering the streets. We thought the shops might open at 2PM as they do on Sunday and we were right so we got in about an hour of our mutually favorite shopping time.

At night, we were picked up by the Carlos Gardel Dinner Theatre where we enjoyed one of Buenos Aires' most famous tango shows, just google Carlos Gordel to watch.


We were going to the milonga at Ricoleta but the show lasted till midnight when the milonga was over so alas alack, a day without tango is a day without sunshine for me, oh how cliche!

As my favorite woman, Scarlett O'Hara says "tomorrow is another day".

Avere un giorno meraviglioso, i miei amici!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Milonga in Argentina

Tonight we dared..we went to our first authentic milonga in a 100 year old rotunda (for lack of a better word) People of all ages, shapes and sizes doing the most incredible tango's I have ever seen, Chris and I were awestruck and more than slightly intimidated. Women and men stand around the perimeter of the space and women wait for a man to nod to them. Complete strangers dance intimately with fluidity and grace that is difficult to put into words. I was almost afraid to have someone ask me to dance not only due to the language barrier but for the intricacy of the steps. I danced! It was not easy, he is still alive and I too survived my first milonga. It is the most soulful, beautiful, artistic dance one can ever watch. I am in awe of the technique that takes years to master, I am more in love with it then when I came.

It was a fabulous and busy day. We went right to Plaza Dorrigo for the outside markets, tango dancers, gaucho's (that would be Argentinian cowboys:-) and a day of shopping, watching, listening to tango music everywhere, crafts, handmade leather, soft alpaca, it's a shoppers' paradise. We lunched at La Brigada, one of the most famous of all the steakhouses. Walked to Mansion Dandi Royal, a 100 year Art Nouveau restored mansion, now a hotel with a tango palace within it for guests.

Returned to our 'hood, which we love the most for a dinner at Mott at 10PM (OY these late night dinners) and yes, more Freddo ice cream..., irresistible.

MIdnight in Argentina

Sorry I am late with this but late was the order of the evening. I don't think I've seen 1 AM since I was a teenager, let alone dance till then. The days seem to be filling up faster maybe because we kinda sorta lost a week with all that airplane hoopla. Anyway, Saturday started with our usual leisurely breakfast in the garden. Interesting buffet if I haven't shared earlier. Fruits...mango, kiwi, honeydew, pineapple. Swiss cheese platter with almonds sprinkled over it. Muesli, cocoa powder, corn flakes. Croissants, brownies and pound cake with nuts, all of which is expected to be spread with dulce de leche...caramel the equal to butter here. A platter of ham or prosciutto and the best damn yogurt I have ever had.

Running out of money, we had to walk to the only place to exchange, the mall, a good 6 mile walk. The dollar is 1 to 4+ here so everything is beyond cheap, from restaurants, to clubs to shopping, oh yes, shopping. Never have Chris and I so enhanced an economy:-)
The weather is perfect, hot during the day (we stole two hours at our rooftop pool) and balmy at night. Our neighborhood is fabulous for strolling, safe, hip with outdoor cafes, music coming from all of them, shops open late, people everywhere, friendly, warm people. Our area is clean as opposed to everywhere else which has broken streets, garbage and graffiti.

We had lunch at our hotel as we have an award winning chef so the food is wonderful then walked to the famous Freddo for the even more famous ice cream, the lines are always a block long. Alejo, the owner of Vistage Argentina has challenged us to a taste test at three of the most famous ice cream places and the ice cream here is extraordinary, we are up for the challenge...and happy about it too:-)

Time to dance, back to La Viruta for our class then took a break during the practica and went to a recommended restaurant, Olsen, yes, Scandanavian and it was beautiful and tasty, OK, interesting! Then back to La Viruta for milonga (which is where they dance). Men nod at you, you go to them, you dance. Yes, again, I reiterate a very
male dominant dance but more fabulous than I can write about, it takes my breath away to watch and to do, challenges and excites me. Latin dance has always been my talent, my passion, my interest so this whole experience takes me to to a new level.

Adios muchacha's...Time to go to our first public milonga in the park, slightly nervous but up for the challenge. Buenos Noches...my Spanish is more like Spamish:-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Miracle in Argentina!!!

My luggage was found and arrived in one piece, there is a God:-) I felt bad for my friend, Chris to have to spend one more miserable day with me sans clothes, it was beyond challenging. I started the day early, a car picked me up to go to Vistage Argentina and train 20 Chairs, that is not furniture, they are group leaders as I am in Chicago with two executive advisory boards.

I need to say this...Buenos Aires is a dirty city with more graffiti then NY ever had BUT the people are extraordinary, kind, fun loving and warm. Our neighborhood Palermo Soho is very hip and chic as is Recoletta and I'm sure others we haven't seen yet but overall..., dirty. When I got to the meeting, they all welcomed me joyously and so appreciative in having me there. I remembered how much I loved my first three years which was all international speaking. I worked with two wonderful simultaneous interpreters today, Juan and Drizella and they were just fabulous. It took awhile for me to get back in the groove of knowing when to slow down, when to put on the headset, when to hand the mike to someone. I guess those are the pieces that made me nostalgic about all my past international speaking engagements, their challenges and the fun of it all.

Most of my audience were 60 year old men, one woman, they soaked up everything I taught, participated fully in my games and asked a myriad of questions. It was a perfect event. The car took me back and Chris and I walked to a bank or so we thought. We walked miles, way beyond the directions, we are finding out they are not very good at giving them. The language is a huge barrier with hardly anyone speaking English. By the time we found a bank, we were told they only work with customers. We bagged the bank idea for now and headed for lunch at Cluny's, an absolutely fabulous restaurant, named after a convent in the South of France.

We were on Armenia Street, a mecca of shopping especially for these two shopaholics. Yes, we enhanced the Argentinian economy:-) It is a beautiful cobblestone street and the weather is picture perfect day and night. Back to the hotel in time to change for tango and off to our classes at La Viruta where they are starting to know us. We tango for a few hours then head off to a late dinner at Nectarine and a must stop for the famous dulce de leche ice cream on the way home.

Chris is exhausted, I wear her out with my turbo walking and distances and she is already sound asleep and I could go clubbing. As I sit here writing this blog, I am facing my suitcase and a little smile has crossed my face. Buenos Noches!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Scarlett O'Hara in Argentina

And so she said, "tomorrow is another day". Well and so it was. The day started off great with plans galore but you know what they say,"when we make plans, God laughs".
Being the optimist I usually am, I was anxiously awaiting my luggage while Chris and I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast in the outdoor garden, the weather is magnificent.

At noon, my friend, Alejo Canton who owns Vistage Argentina came to pick me up for lunch as I am training all the Argentinian Chairs tomorrow. I was told the number 1 restaurant we had to go to was La Cabrera, so I made reservations for it tomorrow night as soon as I got here. Much to my surprise, Alejo takes me there for lunch as it is owned by a Vistage member. I told Alejo to order for me as I wanted to taste what is most indicative of the area. We start with empanadas and three sauces which I cannot begin to describe. Then the grilled provolone cheese covered with a sun dried tomato sauce...amazing. We are then treated to a Kobe steak, a rib eye steak and a sirloin steak (if you haven't figured it out yet, the Argentinians are famous for meat), hence all the Argentinean steak houses now proliferating the US. With that comes a myriad of sauces, bowls full of pumpkin, applesauce, potatoes and more than I have room to write about. We sample everything.

The owner, Gaston Riveira come over to welcome Alejo and proudly shows me an article that appeared in the NY Times about his restaurant. We take a photo which I'd love to show you along with all the others, but more about that later. He tells us he wants to open an ice cream store (the second thing they are famous for) and brings out a platter of eight different scoops of ice cream with waffle cone cookies all around it. Of course we must sample all to give our opinion. Yes, I am known to love superlatives but this was by far the best ice cream I have EVER tasted and trust me, I've tasted many:-)

The flavors...dulce de leche, of course and THE best, sabayon, almond brickle, strawberry, vanilla, American cream, lemon, chocolate, oh yes, chocolate. Then Gaston comes over and gives me an authentic native steak knife in a leather pouch and they bring out a lollipop tree to end the meal. Specatcular!

I come back to the hotel to meet Chris who opted for a pedicure and was quite upset to hear what she missed. The hotel told me my luggage arrived and I was ecstatic only to find out they delivered my small bag of toiletries and soneone else's suitcase of clothes. They were told it was a set so hard to believe what they brought.

At this point, I lost it, I'll let you figure out how. I spent the next hour or so on the phone with LAN and American Air to no avail. I am now five days with nothing to wear and they simply don't care, couldn't resist the rhyme. So instead of tango'ing, I had to go shopping. Now I know you're all thinking what a joy that is for me and normally so but not this type. I simply had to find a mall where I could get basics from a hair dryer to a nightgown, shoes, shirts, etc... at the very least something to wear to my speech tomorrow.

We just got back at 11PM, my leg has ice on it as my ankle is aching for walking miles in improper shoes while I try to prepare for tomorrow. I wish I was reporting how exciting my trip to Argentina is going and how I am loving all the tango classes and milongas and things we had planned but so far, alas, alack I cannot. So as Scarlett said, "tomorrow is another day". Pray for me, Argentina!

Oh yes, Happy Thanksgiving all!

I Cry for Me, Argentina!

OK, OK, Evita might have sung it differently but then again she probably had all her clothes. Yes, alas, alack, still no luggage, however the good news is that my friend, Chris from Wales who was diverted to Rio finally arrived today or was it
yesterday...FYI, this is Wednesday's blog.

Soooooo...I got up at my leisure (or as Chris would say, Lezure) After vacationing with her, I usually come back with a British accent:-) Walked over to the fitness centre, coveted the machines I could not use (did I mention that I had no luggage...translation... no workout clothes), came back to hotel for my first Argentinian breakfast. I would be sharing photos at this point, but my plug is in my...you guessed it...my luggage. They serve Dulce de Leche with everything which is basically caramel with the consistency of butter. You put it on brownies, yes, for breakfast, croissants, bread, etc. In the spirit of full disclosure, I HAD to immerse myself in Argentinian culture and try it. It was fabulous but if I did that everyday the fact is that I came over as a passenger but would be going home as cargo.

Our fabulous hotel has a lovely garden eating area so I stayed out there and read my book, "Great by Choice". Went up to rooftop pool to read and sun in the same outfit I traveled in (did I mention I had no clothes?) I took a walk through our very hip neighborhood, Palermo Soho, were you expecting anything else (yes, like NY Soho) and tried to pass the time till Chris arrived. I made list upon list of all the things we would do and see. I love doing that...researching restaurants, bars, shops, tourist attractions, etc.

Chris arrives at 3PM, hooray. we giggle like two schoolgirls at a dance, make fun of each other's words, ie, she's absolutely knackered, translated means tired. We grab a bite to eat then plot and plan our days. Chris loves all that I chose as she hates to do that. it's wonderful to have a friend that you are so compatible with in travel. I'm blessed with many.

We decide to check out one of the many recommended tango places Il Vitra then go to the famous Tango store, Comme de Faux for the shoes and clothes we will need. did I mention that not many speak English here, quite challenging as neither Chris nor I speak Spanish...but I'm learning fast. We arrived too early so we walked, talked and window shopped.

When we got to Il Vitra people were lining up to pay to get in to this massive ballroom. Spanish speaking all around us till I spotted a guy wearing a Nevada T shirt and asked my usual...English??? He was from Spain but yes, spoke "American". Why are we the only ones who speak one language? I digress. He explained the process and before you know it Chris and I were in our respective tango classes, beginner for her, intermediate for me. I am a dancer but I can confirm that this is THE most challenging dance ever. Let me affirm the definition of the Argentinian tango..it's a vertical expression of a horizontal desire:-) Sam, are you lovin' all my smileys?...she hates them, LOL (that would be "my Samantha, my Director of Everything)

Oops, gotta run, time for Dulce de Leche, I mean breakfast. So let me sum up last night, we danced for hours, 1 1/2 hour lesson 1 hour practice with men who could not speak a word of English then line dancing, then rock and roll as they call it (was really east coast swing) which I know very well then Chris's jet lag hit and we walked back to hotel at 10PM. Guess what I asked when we arrived back...oh you're so smart and yes...no luggage!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tango in Argentina...almost

I have had an experience list long before someone came up with a bucket list. Which btw, I don't like the idea of things to do before you die, I like the idea of expriences while being fully alive. My experience list has had tango'ing in Argentina on it for awhile and yesterday, I moved it to the top of the list to be able to check it off.

Ah, "the best laid plans of mice and men"! Boarded my flight to Miami at 3PM yesterday to catch my 8PM flight to Buenos Aires. A big, beautiful American Airlines 777, first class, life is good:-) I was scheduled to arrive the next morning at 8AM and meet my friend, Chris who would be arriving at the same time from London. Chris and I have been friends for decades when we met in the Israeli desert while speaking for life insurance agents. We take many international trips together, our last one to Prague.

Well, at 2am, our plane was diverted to Santiago, due to volcanic ash from a rumbling volcano in Chile. I found that out when I awoke at 4am from my ambien stupor. The American Airlines flight attendant told me that ash destroys planes and their first concern was safety, who am I to argue with that?

We deplaned in Santiago and I found myself in a throng of people, none speaking English, nor did any of the airline personnel. Hey, I got to see the Andes, my glass is still half full. I overheard a young gal speaking English (there is a God:-) She was Argentinian but lives and works in the Cayman Islands and was coming home to visit family. Laura became my saviour and I became her shadow. We found ourselves in the line of Chile's airline, LAN and it seemed they were booking all of us to fly to BA. Of course, I was wondering why they could but AA couldn't but followed like sheep till we were re-booked.

The good news, yes, finally there was some, was getting on the next flight out at 10am whereas all others had to wait till 10PM. The bad news ... especially when going international. I had no phone, Chris had no wi-fi so we could not connect. Laura tried to call and email her as we had a driver waiting for both of us at the BA airport and were trying to reach them and the hotel without much luck. Until..., Horatio appeared, a friend of Laura's from days gone by and he used Skype to contact the hotel who had still not heard from Chris.

I finally arrive in BA at 1PM, I have had three flights and flown 14 hours. I'm tired and cranky (yes, even inspirational speakers get cranky) and find out that with any luck I might get my luggage TOMORROW and I have nothing with me, nada!! When I arrive, my driver tells me he hasn't heard from Chris so we have no idea where she is. He takes me to my hotel, an hour away from the airport and when I arrive they have not heard from Chris either. I check in, email Chris (with what little battery power I have left, yes, my plug is with my luggage) whose assistant, Judith informs me that Chris was diverted to Rio,has to stay overnight and will get here sometime tomorrow.

I decide to take a walk to check out the nearby fitness center as my hotel does not have one. Walk a few more blocks through the Palermo Soho area where our hotel is and then decide to stop for a late lunch at a little cafe which was delightful. I made many networking connections before I left and so I have an email from Dante inviting me to my first milonga tonight. I am tired, dirty and have no clothes to change into so I opt out of that wonderful opportunity to hit the sack, slept for hours, watched Law and Order in my room and will probably fall asleep again.

All in all, not an auspicious start to what I know will be a great trip and on the bright side, a whole lot of new material for my speeches:-) Buenos Noches!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A whale of a story! | Video

A Whale of a story, enjoy!

Most of you know that I am an experience junkie with an experience list not a bucket list. This wasn't on my list, so I added it then checked it off. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking for Kurt Harrington's Something Fishy company, out of Providence, RI. Kurt has become a dear friend over the years so unbeknownst to me, he wanted to give me a special surprise after my presentation. And so, I had private time with Juno, a 1300 lb. Beluga Whale who may grow to 2000 lbs (and no, has nothing to do with caviar as I thought:-)
Not only did I get to pet Juno on his blubbery head to feel it jiggle, I got to pat Juno's tongue (which he loves) after his trainer threw a fish in. He is the youngest whale at Mystic Aquarium in CT, about 12 Feet long and light gray in color and just adorable. So smart as I watched him move to just the hand signals of his trainer, listen to the many sounds he can make and take many pics, which I'll share in next month's ezine. Juno was born at Marineland of Canada in Niagara Falls, Ontario then transferred to SeaWorld in 2006 and is currently on a breeding loan (I won't go there:-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rick Perry's Speaking Gaffe

Rick Perry's Speaking Gaffe
Dear Rick Perry,
Come to my Speakers School (as my guest) and I'll teach you techniques that'll help you remember your speaking points.
xoxo,
Mikki


The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the political views of the author.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rick Perry Needs Speakers School with Mikki Williams, CSP

Right? Then he'd have had the tap-dancing skills to cover his gaffe. Yes, I teach tap-dancing too! So to speak.
Speakers School is for people at all levels; novices, wannabes, CEOs, professionals or anyone...who wants TO BE PRESIDENT!
I'm sure you read my blog, Rick Perry...the next Speakers School is in February. There's still plenty of time to hone those skills. SIGN UP NOW!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who Says You Can’t Wear Purple Shoes?

Is creativity something we're born with or is it learned?

When I ask my audience how many people think that creativity is learned or something you are born with, I am always amazed at the response. Most think it is something you are born with. I guess in some respects that is true, certainly if you look at the artists in music, theatre, dance, art and all the other areas we consider creative arenas. In the movie Father of the Bride 2 Steve Martin’s character, having just been told that he is about to become a father again in midlife, screams at the doctor that men his age don’t become fathers. When the doctor informs him that Picasso fathered a child in his seventies he screams: “But he’s an artist! Artists can do whatever they want to do!”
We are all artists of our own lives. We are all blessed with a creative spirit and that gift can be used to paint the creative life we want to enjoy. I also believe that we all have untapped potential and the ability to unleash our creativity if we have the desire to do so. Creativity is like a muscle and must be used or it will atrophy. Most people don’t know how to tap that creative spout. Sometimes just trusting your intuition serves to empower your creative side.
We could virtually do away with problem-solving and conflict resolution if we just developed our creativity. Whether in the classroom, the boardroom or even the bedroom for that matter, creativity wins. Joseph Chilton Pierce once said, "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."
Of course there are the obvious ways to develop it such as reading books on the subject, listening to tapes, attending seminars and all the other standard ways. Then again, that wouldn't be very creative would it? I think that everyday we have opportunities to test, to challenge, to grow and to build our creative muscle if we just open our mind to what Zig Ziglar coined as "possibility thinking."
Sometimes we need to look at life from a “what if” standpoint and act accordingly. Our best solutions come from our ability to stretch the parameters of our comfort zone and live or else at least “visit” outside the box. I remember a creativity program I was doing at a hospital in Canada; one of the participants named Mary was having a great deal of difficulty in exercising her creativity. She shared the following story with the group:
When Mary was in elementary school the teacher asked the class to draw a picture of a house during a blizzard. When the teacher was correcting the papers she gave Mary an F on her paper. When Mary questioned the teacher she replied that the paper was blank and therefore she got an F for not participating. However, in Mary's young creative mind, she had done exactly as she was instructed. Mary was not trying to be a wise guy or avoid the assignment. In Mary's eyes the blank page was her way of seeing the blizzard, that everything was covered by the white snow. From that day on Mary never tried to see things as she saw them but always as she was supposed to see them. What a shame.
We often take an uninhibited child and tell them to stay off the grass, color between the lines, paint by numbers and then we wonder why we have so many creatively constipated adults. My favorite teachers were the ones who inspired me with the opportunities to work outside the lines. The ones themselves who deviated from the curriculum far enough to keep the students engaged and challenged and close enough to keep the powers that be satisfied.
Here are some ways to foster your closet creativity:
  • Think like a child
  • Travel – experience new culture, languages, people, food, arts
  • Analyze your dreams
  • Try new things - hobbies, movies, sports, books
  • Expose yourself to diverse cultural interestS - opera, ballet, theatre
  • Listen to different types of music - classical, country, soul
  • Visit museums, aquariums, exhibits, country fairs
  • Read about famous characters, people who inspire you
  • Hand out with eccentric people (yes, that would be me!)
After a defining moment in my life I decided to live as fully and as creatively as I possibly could. Yes, even wearing purple shoes. I am Grey Poupon in a yellow mustard world! I believe it has afforded me opportunities far beyond those who always play it safe and by the rules. To me, life's only rule is that there are no rules. Perhaps that's why I am a serial entrepreneur. My mantra is “Be outrageous, it’s the only place that isn’t crowded."
My son Jason has grown to be a creative person in life and in spirit. Even as a young child it is a trait to be nurtured. Sometimes it is frustrating for those who must bear the brunt of our curiosity. His teachers always found him "challenging." I believe it is a great strength to be curious, to be searching for the less obvious as long as it provides us with a basis for growth and does not stifle. To be creative, to take risks, to challenge the mundane, to me is to have a sense of self. To not do what is always done, to not follow the pack, to be curious is in itself the essence of creativity. Be a maverick.Mikki Williams purple shoes
I believe words are a stepping stone to the “whys” of life. I like to think of myself as a wordsmith. I went from dance choreographer to word choreographer. Jason has taken it one step further, he memorizes his word a day calendar and uses them, as he is a proponent of continuous learning. Creativity takes effort.
Be the salmon…swim upstream. Be the contrarian.
Creativity is, can be and should be fun. Use your “what if” mentality, challenge the status quo. Be observant and use every opportunity to break the rules. Alright, alright...start by just bending a few.
Wear purple shoes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

How About Some Halloween Cupcakes?

Mini Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes
by The Bon App├ętit Test Kitchen

1 cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
Orange and black food coloring; orange, black, white, and yellow candies and sugar crystals

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with 1 3/4x 1-inch paper liners. Mix flour, golden brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl. Whisk egg, canned pure pumpkin, vegetable oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Add mixture to dry ingredients; stir to fully combine. Spoon batter into paper liners (batter will almost fill liners). Scatter crystallized ginger over, if desired. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 16 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on rack. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar.
Divide frosting among 3 bowls. Tint frosting in first bowl with orange coloring (or combine red and yellow coloring to make orange) and frosting in second bowl with black coloring, keeping frosting in third bowl white. Chill frosting 2 hours or until firm enough to easily spread. Frost cupcakes; decorate using candy and sugar crystals as desired.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You've Got Personnel-ity!

 Don't forget... You've Got Personnel-ity!

Last week I presented my topic You've Got Personnel-ity! to Equity Engineering Group. I've been a DiSC trainer for 20 years, teaching people how to use this tool in business and personal life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Plane Truth

The Plane Truth - I still don't like flying!

After 11 flights this month (but who's counting?) I came to one non startling conclusion. I still don't like flying! Never did, still don't, even 25 years after becoming a professional speaker aka professional flyer.
The Plane Truth | Mikki Williams


Herein lies the lesson...when the joy is greater than the fear, we manage to get through it. Or simply put, when the reward is greater than the risk, albeit, a perception, that is the big duh of the century. I think it's a simple yet profound aha that applies to many areas of our lives if we want to be truthful about it. Yes, I know, we don't always want to be but that's the reality of it, the metaphor of life. If I may quote myself as you know I often love to do, lol..."life is about the choices we make, not the chances we take that truly determines the quality of our lives".

Now go fly a kite, I mean a plane!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Apple a Day...

Once you go Mac, you never go back...

I love Apple, no not the fruit (well, that too:-) the company. As they say, once a Mac you never go back. I just don't understand why the whole world doesn't use Mac? Yes, I have the desktop, the laptop, the Iphone and now, ta da...the IPad. But it's not just the ease and creativity and fun of the products it's the culture that just wows me.

C'mon you PC puppets, go into an Apple Store, feel the energy, enjoy the support, dazzle yourself with the products and people. Haven't seen any PC stores with 1-1 support, genius bars, classes, oh puhleeze, why isn't the world using Apple products? I'm crazy for companies with culture like Apple, like Zappos, like Facebook. My 1-1 trainer has an apple tattooed on his wrist. Not since Harley fanatics have I seen that. In fact, I may have to run out now and buy some apple earrings...sequin of course:-) Make it an outrageous week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Psychic Rewards of Speaking

The benefits of professional speaking There are so many benefits to what I do, here is one

There are so many rewards for what I do, I can't even count them, and I'm so grateful and humbled to have had the success that I've had. But the very best reward for me is touching people and making a difference in their lives. Recently, right before my National Speakers Association Convention, I received this email from a woman I met ten years ago in New Zealand and it brought a tear to my eye. You'll see why...

Hi Mikki - you most likely won't remember me - but when I see you next week in Anaheim, I'm going to want to at least say hi, shake your hand, and if allowed, give you a hug of THANKS! I met you about 10 years ago in Hamilton NZ where you spoke about when you were a young widow with a baby - you shared your story so beautifully (finally - someone who knew what it was like!). You gave me hope about getting through my own nightmare of being a 34 year old widow with young baby, etc. Then you pointed me in the right direction about registering with Coach U - I did that and graduated nearly 3 years later - you also somehow connected me up with Susan Roane who was here the following year and started me on the way to joining the NSA, being 'Fripped' for the first time, and then becoming a speaker and author.... now - look at me, I'm the Chief Editor of the GSF, past national president of NSANZ, successful author, publisher, coach and creative director for numerous other speakers around the world, and... it all really did start back with you. So - when I checked the attendance list just now, I noticed your name and said 'Yay'... and wanted to give you a quick heads up that I'm really looking forward to meeting you again after such an incredible journey since last time. Cheers,
Maria Carlton
Chief Editor - Global Speakers Federation
www.globalspeakers.net
Advancing the professional speaking community worldwide

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dose-see-go

Come attend DOSE with us

I know, I know, corny play on words but hey... I'm talking about DOSE the fabulous food and fashion market created, conceived and put on once a month at the River Arts Center in Chicago by my coaching client, April Francis, visionary extraordinaire. Sam and I had some pie pops, lemon ginger to be exact, some nice cream, chocolate basil to be exact, yes it is a fun entreprenurial adventure, next one Sept. 25th, be there or be square, not in the 'hood, fly in:-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back and Forth and Back and Forth...

The Rocky Gap Resort The Rocky Gap Resort - Worth the Stay!

So, I was in Baltimore on Monday for a speaking engagement, then went to Atlanta, then back to Baltimore...great planning, right? But the Rocky Gap Resort was worth it. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Canada Rocks

My Canadian Adventure!

I love Canadians, always have... which is why I have owned a private vacation membership here for over a decade. They are polite, easy going, life loving, make no waves kinda' folk and my friends, Barb and Todd are the creme de la creme.

It's been an amazing week, not just the Stampede but the whole kit and caboodle (what is a kit and caboodle anyway?) After the Stampede, my illustrious hosts had a post Stampede soiree on Sunday. Barb outdid herself with food and ambience and Todd was the most gracious host tending to the booze, the kids, the grounds and all else. Friends brought their kids to swim in the pool, now realllllllllly, who wouldn't want to swim in this. At night, we relaxed in the home movie
theater and Barb and I watched our favorite movie, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". Todd sat through it for awhile and then decided he'd rather put bamboo iCanadian Scenery | Mikki Williamsn his fingernails, lol.

Monday was spent on a drive uCanada - Banff | Mikki Williamsp to Banff and lunch at the castle aka Banff Spring Resort, one of my top five favorite places in the world. Put THAT on your experience list!!! The first time I went I cried over the scenery. The Canadian Rockies are the most majestic mountains, they just take your breath away and the drive up there is spectacular.

We had lunch at the hotel on the terrace overlooking the mountains. Vince Vaughan was there with his new wife and family and yes, I took a photo with him but saving that for the eziCanadian Mountainne. What? You don't get the ezine? Well then, sign up now on the home page of www.mikkiwilliams.com

I digress.

After lunch on the terrace overlooking the Rockies on a gorgeous summer day then a ride to the Minnewanka Loop and more breathtaking scenery as we drove around letting me play tourist and take pictures. Back to Calgary and dinner at Murrietta's with good friend and now President of TEC Canada aka Vistage in the US, Catherine Osler. Packing now to leave for Toronto where I will be speaking for the 4th largest insurance company in Canada then back to the states to speak for a large accounting association and my Vistage meeting, whew, what a glorious week!

Oh, yes, a mountain goat shedding itCanadian Goat Sheddings fur for the summer, many of them just walking along the side of the road. Hey, c'mon, this is a big deal for a city chick:-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ride a Cowboy, Save a Horse..it's rodeo time, giddyup!

Pink sequence cowboy hat | Mikki WilliamsIt's Rodeo time everyone, Giddyup!

Day 3...me and my pink sequin flashing lights hat do the rodeo and yes, this li'l NY Jewish gal has never been to one in her@#$%^&* years. Soooooo, where do I begin? Now I must admit I was a little skittish as I love animals and I didn't know if I could handle what I might see. The first part were the cowboys riding the bucking bronco's, they get judged by the horse's ability to buck and their staying power, hmmmmm that has other connotations, I digresMikki and Mountiess. It was pretty cool, we had awesome seats and I got lots of great shots. The cowboys are all very young, (yes, even for this cougar:-) you'd have to be young to do what they do, it's brutal, the beating your back and neck must take from that. So I found me some Canadian Mounties, oh how I love a guy in uniform.

We saw novice to professional. Then we watched the gals, ride around three barrels and gallop off, they can't knock any down, it was pretty cool until one gal fell off her horse and the horse fell on her. I was filming and screaming at the same time. She was OK, amazingly.

Then came roping the calves. I did not like how they rope'em then throw them on the ground and tie them up. Although, it was very fast, again for timing but then little guys got right up and pranced off. I told you I love animals. We watched the bull riders and that was tough as Todd kept telling me it was what I was having for dinner that night. I learned the difference between bulls, steers, heifers, I'm an now an enlightened cowgirl:-) We watched the little kids in teams of three try to capture and mount ponies, hard stuff but oh so cute, one team finally did it.

We then walked the grounds, ate food we shouldn't, took more touristy photos for me then went into the livestock area where I got to see piglets nursing, cows, horses, sheep, all very close up. Again not a usual occurrence for this city chick. Home to a nice steak dinner on the barb q and I tried not to thing of any of the animals I saw today. Off to the movie theatre...next to my room. Nite all!

Day Two...me and the Coachwagons, reallllllllllly!!

Day 2: Canadian Adventure

Dressed up in my rhinestone boots, sequin hat, yee haw, gonna find me a cowboy!! What's that country western song, "ride a cowboy, save a horse" LOL
Got up early, worked out in the gym, took a sauna, swam into the grotto for a jacuzzi then enjoyed breakfast with Todd and Barb overlooking the majestic Canadian Rockies. Barb and I spent some time allowing me to enhance the Canadian economy at the local mall. They had already bought my a pink sequin cowboy hat with lights that go on and off (of course) so I just added a cowboy or is it cowgirl belt and purse, I'm ready to hit the festivities. We went out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant called Earl's then off to the Coachwagon races... a definite first. Four horses hitched up to mini covered wagons with their sponsors names on them, four compete at a time around a regular horse racing track. The Stampede grounds look like your typical summer carnival with booths and food and drink and people, lots and lots of people. I love Canadians, they are some of the nicest people on the planet.

We bet on each heat and I lost all eight and had to pay Todd $6.00 US dollars, (he made out well, our exchange rate sucks) I picked my wagons based on their names, of course:-) We had great seats and it reminded me a little of when I watched the Indy races. They had little kids finish off the night with a race, so cute. I was still on east coast time so we stayed to watch the Grandstand show then went back to the mansion, I mean home.

NY'er does the Rodeo, yee haw!

Todd Millar came to my Speakers School years ago and I became his coach and he became my dear friend. Todd has been back to SS and each time our friendship deepened. When talking to him about his home in Calgary, I mentioned that I loved western Canada and had clients and friends in Calgary but was never there to experience the Calgary Stampede...it's on my experience list! That was a year ago, fast forward and I am enjoying a week at the most magnificent home I have ever seen, let alone be a guest of Todd and his adorable wife, Barb and their son, TJ and daughter, Larissa.

I knew Todd had an incredible business bonanza years ago so my expectations were high but to say they were exceeded would be an understatement. I arrived Thursday night from a speaking week in North Carolina and temperatures of 105, oh very bad hair days. I flew through Dallas and picked up some Cowboy Chocolates for my hosts. TJ and Todd picked me up at the airport and drove me to Chez Millar. It was dark so I couldn't see much that night and was taken to the Polynesian Room which would be my home for the next week. I did get a mini tour of the downstairs wing I was staying in and that included the beauty salon with tanning bed, the complete fitness center and I mean complete, the movie theater, the putting green, the tennis courts aka ice rink (Todd is a hockey maniac) the wine room, the sauna/steam room AND the salt water indoor pool with a fresh water grotto with a separate jacuzzi (Hugh Hefner, eat your heart out) OMG! Stay tuned...

Friday, July 15, 2011

How To Be You-Nique!

You don't have to be outrageous to be You-nique (but it's helped me!).


No, I did not write "Dress for Success," I wrote "Dress for Excess" (not really, but I should!), so that gives me the right to tell you that the way you look can make you stand out in the crowd.

Do you want people to remember you? It could be as simple as the ties you choose, the pin on your lapel, the button with your signature quote, the favorite color you wear, the style of your hair (hmmm...who would do that?) or, take a hint (not a copy) from these highly distinguishable speaking pros: Rosita's flowers, Fripp's hats, Larry Winget's glasses, Sheila Murray Bethel's white suits, yours truly's jewelry and clothes and hair and ...need I go on?

"We are all born unique, we just die as copies." I don't know who first uttered those words but I do know they are my credo. That is probably why I have been asked to write on this topic for the umpteenth time and willingly obliged. Why? Because I am passionate about making speakers understand the secret of success; the secret to standing out in a sea of speakers, in an industry that runs rampant with those who don't understand that most obvious answer to that question.

If you want a more in-depth look on how to stand out in a sea of copies, here is another article I wrote, How To Be You-nique!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tale of a Modern Day Millennial Interview

Modern Day Millennial Interview, A tale of evolution from the traditional interview

Last week I was asked to meet with the head of an edgy integrated marketing boutique interested in hiring a freelance media producer. Stepping into their offices I was immediately attracted to the warehouse-like shop where Herman Miller meets the west Loop's factory charm and for the first time I began flirting with the idea of working for a company. Beautiful young millennials banged away at their Macs in designer jeans and tight t-shirts that would've had the Mad Men rolling in their graves.

I waited in the lobby (which was decked out with a black leather couch, the latest Esquire, and an imaginary receptionist) for fifteen minutes and just as I was about to listen to that inner voice saying, screw this - they must not think my time is valuable, my interviewer walked in. He sized me up my from my inappropriately short white shorts to the gray and green feathers in my hair, and I him with his cool designer glasses and that hurried look suggesting his importance. If this were a first date I'd have been texting my girlfriend under the table to call in an emergency.

What was supposed to be a 30-minute interview turned to an hour and then to cancelling meetings to further the discussion. After nearly two and a half hours the company's need for a part-time freelance producer had evolved to a full-time position in a role that we'd created over the course of our discussion. Before leaving he asked if I had any last questions, to which I replied: "Can I bring my dog to work every day?" He laughed and agreed.

As a millennial it's interesting to observe the ways in which the traditional interview process have evolved beyond traditional Ann Taylor suit wear and neatly printed CVs, to sizing up raw talent and lifestyle needs. We are moving beyond selling our capabilities as individual to a corporation, to a deeper discussion around value contribution to an organization that fits within a larger contextual lifestyle. Ultimately as millennials we want freedom of expression.

Perhaps lessons from the extremists at Google, who gave staff one day a week to dedicate to a passion, are beginning to permeate the organizational membrane. Whatever the case I'm happy to see companies recognizing that work can still be infused with tremendous value by people with short-shorts and Chihuahuas.

by Kristen DaRosa

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Woo Woo or Woe Me

OK, so I signed up for an all day seminar on a topic that I thought would be in my genre of interest and out of professional courtesy I will not mention names. Some of my topics are what could be defined as soft skills but never as woo woo. Too much metaphysical and not enough grounding. Suffice it to say, we left at lunchtime.

My role as a coach for speakers could not be denied as I watched in utter dismay to all the violations of what makes a great speaker. Granted there were 100 people there, granted there were tons of product and enough commercials to sell it all but...where were the stories attached to the blah blah blah? There was nothing to hook me, nothing for me to anchor to and nothing for me to takeaway. Alas, alack, all is not lost as I look upon every experience, good, bad or otherwise as a learning experience.

Sometimes the learning's are in not what to do or what to avoid. Sometimes they are affirmations of what I do and should continue to do and sometimes they just are...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dance with My Father | Tribute to Father's Day

A Tribute to All Dad's on Father's Day

That Luther Vandross song always makes me cry, "Dance with My Father" if you've never heard it, please get it today, it's also a beautiful song. My Dad left when I was four altho' I did see him once a year on my birthday. There wasn't much of a relationship there and sadly my son, Jason's Dad died when he was two so Father's Day is a difficult day for me as I'm sure it is for many others. My BFF, Sherry sent me a Father's Day card which made me think of all the single Mom's out there who are both parents to their children. In honor of all the Dad's and the ones who take on fatherly roles, I honor you on your day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are You A Wandering Generality or a Meaningful Specific?

I know, I know, I've missed you too. Crazy travel schedule, mea culpa!

Earned designations, CPA, MD, CMC, PhD...CSP Certified Speaking Professional. Do they define us? I didn't think so, till one of my clients decided on their own volition, that it wasn't necessary to print CSP after my name in the program...and I was not a "happy camper".

After all, I earned it, I worked hard for it, I'm proud of it. It wasn't bestowed by some politically gainful committee or my friends, it was awarded because of my efforts as all those other ones are as well. So honor thy father and mother and honor those of us who have worked for those little tags after our name. 'Nuff said!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

OMG Zappos

OMG Zappos, an inside look into their creative office space

Inside Zappos Office Las Vegas

Just your typical office decor:-)

Finished up my 1st Annual Sexy Savvy Superwomen do the Six S's in Vegas and well, what happens in Vegas...

Zappos Office Cubicle Las VegasExcept for the last day when we toured Zappos as is Zappos.com as in originally a shoe company (and yes, I helped catapult them to fame and fortune, lol) Don't know what it is, what rock are you living under? From a million dollar biz to a billion dollar biz with a culture that everyone covets (yet not enough copy:-(, to Tony Hseih's, the CEO best seller, Delivering Happiness (quick, stop reading and go get the book) from Amazon, silly, as Amazon bought them. I had the pleasure of being Tony's opening act this past year and he is one of the most inspiring leaders I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know...and a darn nice guy as well.


Every aspect of the tour was jaw dropping, the cubicles decorated by all the employees make you think you are walking through Disneyland. The attitude is contagious, the place is buzzing with creativity. Everyone should visit this amazing company at least once, I can't stop talking about them in my speeches.

Holy Zappos, Batman!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sight-sea'ing

A new twist on Sight-sea'ing in Seattle

It was a grueling travel week from Chicago, to NY to Austin to Seattle to FL, whew! BUT...what a fun experience I had in Seattle on the Ride the Ducks tour. Now I am not a sightseer, kinda like to do my own thing (no surprise there) but when my client insisted I go with the group on this tour I was intrigued enough to say yes. So I boarded the bus and received my duck bill whistle and was informed by our Capt, Phlipt Dover:-) about what we were going to experience and experience it was. Our bus was going to drive through downtown Seattle and then drive INTO Lake Union for a water tour...wild, absolutely wild.

Anytime we passed a Starbucks (do you realize how many there are in the city that they were born in?) we had to yell Ooh Fah. The music blasted everything from Brick House (a personal favorite) to Joy to the World, to Stayin' Alive and the over zealous crowd singing Take Me Out to The Ball Game as we passed the Stadium. We were give giant bones and hatchet to sing Boom Chucka Lucka Lucka, in between Capt Dover made absurd yet funny jokes and commentary. Aside from my box lunch slip slidin' all over and the blanket I had wrapped around me due to the cold, it was an absolute blast. AND, I got to appreciate a city that I had never really experienced on that level before, yes, it's rainy, yes, there's lots of leftover hippies, yes, it's very "granola" but I got to see the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat, so see, I guess I really am a sightseer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lady Blah Blah

Life is an experience, my friends!

I am an eclectic...according to Webster "a person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources". In my not so humble opinion, this is a good thing. For example, take a look at your hobbies, do you have any? Do you volunteer? How much time do you spend with friends? Do you travel? How do you take care of you? What do you do to keep learning?

Life is an experience, my friends, how many memories are you making, how many experiences are you creating, how many lives have you touched, when was the last time you took moral, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical inventory? You don't have the time...poo bah! There is no such thing as time management, it is choice management. As my good friend and peer, Larry Winget would say, "shut up, stop whining and get a life" or in the immortal words of Auntie Mame ( the X and Y's are saying, who?) in the Broadway show..."life is a banquet and most poor son of a bitches are starving to death". Pull your seat up to the table of life and indulge!!

-Mikki

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Genetically Programmed to Multi-Task...NOT!!!

OK, so I travel alot and I pride myself on my memory, I rarely lose things, forget things, none of that crap that comes with, pardon the expression...age. I hardly ever take checked luggage as I have become a proficient packer, carry on for this gal:-) However, I was going to four states, different climates, different events, I had to do the unthinkable, check luggage AND it was an airline I don't fly so I experienced the dreaded pay for checked luggage fee (OK, so I'm lucky I could bill the client). So I arrive in Atlanta, one of my least favorite airports due to taking the damn train to every terminal. I mindlessly go through the motions and find myself outside ready to hop a cab to my hotel when I realize I forgot I had checked luggage and had to go back to the carousel to claim. Thankfully it was there, hard to miss my purple luggage:-) If that wasn't bad enough, on the way back home from Atlanta, I opt out of the new security machines because 8 pass throughs in one week is a little more radiation than this gal wants soooooooo I have to go through the arduous task of the pat down. The arduous part is listening to the explanation they HAVE to give you, actually the pat down is either a great mini massage or the most "action" I've had in awhile:-)

I take the damn train again, have 40 minutes to flight, go to buy a mag' when I realize my computer was left on the belt and the security agent did not retrieve (as they don't let you touch it) OK now, think of losing your dog, your child, your life, yes, that is overly dramatic (and yes, I back up) but the horrific thought of that being gone is a feeling I've never had and never want to again. Oh me, oh my...while I was hyperventilating, a wheelchair driver saw my despair and yes, down I sat as she whisked back, via the damn train to security and lo and behold, it really was there.

I'm not sure of the lesson here but I'm sure there is one so while I try to figure it out, don't leave the airport without your luggage, your computer or your mind!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Never Met a Sequin I Didn't Like!

Oh puhleeze...you take Bette Midler (my look alike, who I worship:-) as producer, you add more sequins and rhinestones that this gal can covet in a lifetime, fill it with dance and song from the disco era, costumes that could certainly come out of my closet:- (along with all the cast members who obviously did an OUTRAGEOUS (my favorite word) plot line and all this makes Mikki a "happy camper" pun intended, it's so damn campy! I loved it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Speakers School's Almost in Session!



Why should you come to Speakers School with Mikki Williams, CSP in Chicago? Because you'll not only learn how to be a better speaker but you'll have a blast doing it! Two and a half fun-packed and informative days of presentation skills, video coaching, business tips and how-tos on getting bookings.
Twenty-five years ago no one believed I would ever make it because I was too outrageous, too different, not corporate enough. And yet, Hair I Am! I've spoken at The White House twice, I was the first speaker after apartheid to tour South Africa and speak at Mandela's home, I was featured on the front page of The Wall St. Journal...ya da ya da ya da.
Come to Speakers School and learn how to be a great speaker (outrageous-ness not required).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stamp Collecting...hardly!

Some people collect stamps, plates, butterflies, coins, I collect people. "My Sam" (for those of you living under a rock and don't know that's my affectionate name for Samantha, my Director of Everything since the day we started working together over five years ago:-)well, she nailed it years ago when she coined that and I am officially affirming it. I especially collect amazing, smart, interesting women. I love my gal pals! I throw party after party, arrange events, keep an industrial size "rolodex", hey the word still applies and stay in touch with more people in a week then most people do in a year. I do love people, all ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religious affiliations et al.

I believe every person you meet enhances your life in some respect, I just honor the uniqueness in everyone. Call me Auntie Mame (for you young 'un's, google her). It was a Broadway play and a movie about the antics of a very free spirited woman whose infamous parties were a potpourri of people, beyond eclectic or as my son might say, "eccentric, Mom, eccentric". I particularly love putting people together, I was a networker before the term was invented. I get great pleasure out of introducing people together and voila some exciting connection has evolved into a business collaboration, a new friendship, maybe even a date. Try it some time, you might like it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Listen to the Archives

If you missed yesterday's tele-conversation with Edgar Papke - ALIGNED: HOW TO BUILD AND LEAD HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS AND ORGANIZATIONS - you can listen to the archived version.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I love the term "badinage" and was told early on that it was the playful banter men sling at each other. Then I thought of all the nicknames I have given to my friends over the years.

First, there's Petal, my best bud' in CT when we cruised in the 80's the hostess from Britain used to say, "Good Mornin', Petal" are we off to the loo? The name stuck:-) Then there's my best bud', Kate who I affectionately call "Squeab" as she used to refer to things as squeab squabs. She has since changed her name to Kat so now affectionately known as SqueabKat. There's my friend, Debbie aka Swof for sun whore, only friend (I'll let you figure that one out:-) Let's not forget Soog, who is a human google, hence soogle, shortened to Soog. And my BFF (that would be best friend forever) who I simply call (Biff). If that wasn't enough, are you nauseous or dizzy yet, I love titles as much as I love names hence "My Sam" Director of Everything and boy, does she garner compliments on her title. So what's the point of this verbosity...absolutely none. Then why did I write it...because I can:-)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't "Should" On me

Stop "Should-ing" on your audience and think "what's in it for me." 


I was coaching a client this week about giving a presentation and he said he was going to talk on X because the audience "should" know that? My retort was the ol' radio station to which we are all tuned into on an automatic daily basis, WIIFM, what's in it for me?

 It gave me pause even beyond the coaching session about how many areas of our lives we "should" on people. You "should" wear a coat, it's cold outside, you "should eat your veggies, they're good for you, you "should" start dating again, you "should" see this movie... So the question is, how can we rephrase. rethink and reboot our "shoulds" so they are more inspiring and therefore can offer people the self motivation they need to implement themselves?

Albert Ellis, coined a word for all this "should-ing", he called it "muster-bation". In other words, you are "muster-bating" whenever you behave in ways that you feel you "must". So what's the answer? It's simple, stop allowing it, it causes you stress, no one is keeping score, stop the imposition. If you "should" on others, rephrase, make it a polite suggestion instead of "you should see this movie", try "I just saw a great movie that I think you might enjoy...) Think of how you "should" on others and how much you allow others to "should" on you. Now simply cease and desist!!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just Your Average Day in a Tsunami

Well, I'll do anything for a great story to add to a speech but realllllllly... While speaking in Hawaii all week, packing to leave Friday morning, I hear the sirens sound to warn of the incoming tsunami as a result of Japan's earthquake. Are you kidding me? A tsunami? I dash to the lobby of the hotel for more info, along with the throngs already there. The good news, I'm on the 4th floor of a civil defense approved building and the 4th floor and up didn't have to move, a small positive on the road to my first tsunami. The phones were out but not the TV or internet so I did what we all do in situations where we have no clue...the internet! The next thing I know I'm filling my bathtub with water (rationing for the week), I know, stop laughing, I wasn't.

I set my alarm for two hours sleep so I would be awake when it hit at 3:21am. And then I sat there in my hotel room, praying, hoping, wondering, reflecting and waiting. I'm happy to say I heard it but didn't see it as it was too dark but watched it on TV while 500 mph waves came in like a jetplane and took the whole ocean floor back out with it so even the coral reefs were exposed, fish and turtles washing up and back and all the sirens blaring.

The airport opened the next day in time for me to make my original flights. Hawaii was prepared, my hotel was amazing, The Fairmont in Wailea. The next morning they opened one restaurant and served all the guests a complimentary breakfast and I'm not talking a continental breakfast, I'm talking eggs benedict, pancakes, the real deal. People really do bond together in times of crisis and everyone was like one big family over breakfast. And me, the cockeyed optimist, hey, I've got great material for my next speech. How many of you can say you've been through a tsunami?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Who?

OK, I admit it, I'm a fashion whore. I live for glamour! I never met a sequin I didn't like:-) So that's why I dashed from the airport to my TV to watch, to ogle, to fantasize, to critique, to envy... the Academy Awards.

Oh, forget those people who poo poo the speeches, the length of the show, the theme (bring back Billy Crystal or at least, eye candy Hugh Jackman). C'mon, it's not really about any of that, it's about the fashion. Oh, I'd kill for Mila Kunis' lavender gown and Jennifer Hudson's new bod' or Halle Berry's breathtaking beauty or wait..., I just coveted Anne Hathaway's blue gown. So, as I multi-task my way through the show, I will no doubt go to bed with visions of sequins dancing in my head.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Exciting and Informative Tele-Conversation TODAY!





Mikki&Friends-no text
Don't miss the teleseminar on
Wednesday, February 23rd at 12:00 noon CST.

No cost, no obligation. Just CLICK HERE to register.
Ed PrimeauConversation with Mikki and
Ed Primeau on
Internet Marketing

Talk about reinvention; as president and CEO of Primeau Productions, Inc, Ed has led his company through three major reinventions. Good thing he has four kids and some great friends because he has managed to stay stress-free throughout his life! "The key is to pay attention to what your prospects are looking for not what you believe they should have." Ed loves to work hard and play hard and in this interactive teleseminar, Ed is going to give you some huge tools that will help you take your business to extremes with Internet marketing.

In this program you will learn:
  • What Internet marketing is all about?
  • How to develop an Internet marketing strategy
  • Why you should use the Internet to grow your business
  • How to use social media for business as well as pleasure
For more information visit: Primeau Productions, Inc.
ed@primeauproductions.com

No cost, no obligation. Just CLICK HERE to register.
If you miss this event or want to hear previous recorded episodes click here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Retirementality!!

I just reviewed the book "Retirementality" (what an awesome word and title)... in my ezine this month, you did read that, didn't you? It was synchronicity that my financial planner sent me this video the same week. Watch till the end and I promise you a big smile, no, I take that back...a hearty laugh. And what better way to start a work week...for those of you not taking off on President's Day, you hooky player...oooooh, that just dated me, do they still use that word?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grammy and Valentine

Grammy and Valentine in Hollywood

Grammy and Valentine!


No, it's not the name of a new movie, it's a toss up between being so excited that THE son aka Jason is actually at the Grammy's in Hollywood (see photo of Staples Center) tonight with his Valentine, Heather as I am glued to TV or the excitement that I have over tomorrow's V-Day which I happen to love.

Yes, I admit I am an over the top romantic mush and look forward to this day every year despite the naysayers and the men who dread it. I send e-cards, real cards, I love receiving them, and the flowers, the chocolates, the gifts, over the top, I love this red letter day, pun intended. So go have yourselves a special day on me:-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Burn, Baby, Burn

For the sixth time, I think, I lost count, I went to see "Burn the Floor", the dance extravaganza originated in Australia. Yes, I'm a dancer, yes, I'm an afficionado, yes, yes, yes but I don't care who you are, if you don't appreciate the music, the staging, the choreography and most of all, the athleticism and perfection of these amazing dancers (and their bodies:-), you should check your pulse. http://www.burnthefloor.com

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Opposites Do Attract

So I was going to write a mini movie review of No Strings Attached and I see "my Sam" as I affectionately call my Director of Everything beat me to it.

Now why would I say "opposites attract"? lol I loved the movie, yes, they are gorgeous to look at, yes, they had great on screen chemistry, I thought the script had enough great lines to make me laugh and all in all, I look at "chick flicks" as joyful diversions. They are so unreal that I go to them in the spirit of just that, it really is make believe. And without high expectations, I am rarely disappointed. So in the immortal words of "Sally" with a little play on words, "I will not have what Sam is having":-)
Check out her review here: www.samanthahoffman.com

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mexico Manana

Sorry for day late, good excuse, vacation recovery...aka reality. So...was in Zihautenjo for a week and loved the whole margarita:-) Read last week's blog if you don't know where it is. It was an awesome trip, fabulous weather, nice people, beautiful resort but oh the service...or lack thereof. "In a minute" means whenever, "right away" means sometime before you die, it's all about "manana", indefinite time. I guess for this type A recovering NYawker, that is a little too slow for me. You see, if I order food and you forget the utensils, it would serve me well to get that li'l fork before my dinner hardens on my plate and is ice cold. I am not complaining, I've got a great tan, had some fantastic food, relaxing massages and well, I guess I'll finish this...manana.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tortoise and the "Hair"

Sorry for being a day late but I have a good excuse...I was on a plane to Mexico. I am now happily ensconced in my villa in Zihuatanejo...never heard of it? I'm sure you saw The Shawshank Redemption, everybody has, great movie with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman...well, this is that idyllic spot they meet at the end of the movie. It is breathtaking.

I digress! So cool, we arrived in time to release 100 just hatched, literally baby sea turtles into the ocean, it was absolutely a special moment. The mother lays about 100 eggs a year, no wonder it's once a year, she needs to recuperate. We each got handed a baby, smaller than the center of the palm of my hand. We cupped our other hand over it and all walked to the ocean where they set up a clothesline of balloons. When they told us, we bent down and released our little babies into the Pacific, what a sight. Then you cannot move as the waves take them in and out, so you have to stand still till they all wash out to the ocean. It was wild to see these little black heads poking out of the vastness. Only a few will survive, how sad. It was a once in a lifetime experience and we know, I'm all about experiences:-)