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...