Monday, December 15, 2014

Speaking Tip: Be YOU-nique!™

Let's take a trip back in time:
"Purple!" Mr. Big Name Speaker exclaimed, examining my brand new media kit, my first attempt at a professionalspeaker's marketing tool. I idolized his status and thought at first he was expressing delight. But then he said, "Professional speakers don't use purple. Corporate America is not purple." He smiled indulgently. I thought he was going to pat me on the head. "If you're going to make it in this business, you're going to have to conform. First thing you need to do is re-do your media kit in gray, burgundy, or navy blue. Just not purple." He said it the way he might have said, "diarrhea."
That was more than 25 years ago and my media kit is still purple.

Rule #1 Be You-nique

Don't let anyone tell you you shouldn't do something, just because no one else does it. Find your style, or as Larry Winget says, "exploit your uniqueness!" 
Look, listen, learn; adapt never adopt; find your USP (unique selling proposition) and use it to your advantage. Mr. Big Name Speaker also kindly advised me to "tone down" my wardrobe. "A black or navy blue suit and pearls would be perfect," he said. 
Hah! Well, you see how that turned out!
Yes, I'm outrageous, and that doesn't work for everyone. And maybe I've lost business because of it. But I'm alright with that. I am who I am and it's more important for me to be authentic than to be someone I'm not, just for the sake of the almighty dollar. 
Find your USP, and then go with that, however different it may be. Be authentic. And the almighty dollars will come.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Speaking Tip: We Learn Best When We Laugh

"Shtick" is good!
It makes your audience relax and have fun, and it's been proven that we learn best when we laugh; our defenses are down and our endorphins are running wild. It may not be your style to be outrageous (like moi!), but audiences respond best to presentations with humor, interaction, fun and stimulation for all the senses. And they want content with clear messages that come with specific how-tos that can be readily implemented.
A speaker who sprinkles her speeches with stories will captivate and hold the audience's attention longer than those who just postulate theories.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Someone Make This For Me!

I need this! Can you imagine how delicious this is?
Make it. Then invite me over!

Christmas Cheesecake with English Toffee Filling
Makes 12 servings

Prepare this cake a day ahead.

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 ounces graham crackers)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup English toffee bits (such as Skor)
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 ounces chocolate-covered English toffee (such as Skor or Heath bars), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 16-ounce container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Assorted candies (such as gumdrops and holiday M&M’s)


For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; stir until moist clumps form. Press mixture over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Bake crust until just set, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
For filling:
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in both extracts. Pour half of mixture into prepared crust; sprinkle with toffee pieces. Pour remaining mixture over. Bake until edges are puffed but center is barely set, about 55 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Pour topping over hot cheesecake. Bake cake until topping is just set, about 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes. Run knife between cake and pan sides. Chill cake uncovered overnight.
Remove pan sides and place cake on platter. Garnish top with candies.


Monday, November 24, 2014


Happy to be decompressing in Playa del Carmen at Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda after the crazy-busiest two months on record!
I'm so excited to have this time to do nothing except the five S's: sun, spa, sightsee, shop...and one more. I'll let you guess what that one is...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Go Get This Book!

Understanding the Cause of PTSD 
by Chuck Reaves
I have known Chuck Reaves for decades and know what a prolific speaker and writer he is. Never more so than in his poignant recapturing of his experiences in Vietnam. Chuck is a decorated Vietnam veteran who explains how the military experience can create PTSD. For veterans this book is a valuable tool in understanding their own PTSD and for explaining it to their family and friends. For war protesters during the time of the Vietnam War, it brings closure and greater understanding. 
The forward was written by Captain Jerry Coffee, a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for seven years. The book closes by offering the reader ideas for earning their own medal and for being a hero. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Social Media in China (Not Exactly as We Know and Love It)

Dave NelsenMy good bud, fellow Vistage speaker, and fantastic contributor to my eZine, Dave Nelsen, always has the most interesting posts. This article will be in the eZine in another week but you get it here first!
Check the ezine archives for Dave's previous columns - they're always timely and informative.

Social Media in China (Not Exactly as We Know and Love It) 
by Dave Nelsen
As I write this, I’m on one of the fastest trains on the planet, moving at exactly 304 km/h (over 185 mph) between Shanghai to Beijing. Indeed, I’m on a two-week journey through China. My brother’s here on a two-year rotation as part of his job.
China is an amazing country, full of amazing sights, and amazing people. But there’s one thing here that’s amazing in a different way ... and it’s a reminder to us in the United States (and many other places) to be truly appreciative of the Internet as we know it, NSA monitoringand all.
My brother and his family were not home when my wife and I arrived at their Shanghai apartment. Having been offline for 24-hours, my first move -- after locating his wine collection -- was to jump on his WiFi network to synch email, check Facebook, access ...
Oops! You can’t access Facebook in China. Well, I’ll just have to read my birthday wishes after the fact. Not a huge deal.
Instead, since we’re in the midst of the so called Hong Kong Umbrella Rebellion (I mean in time rather than place) I’ll entertain myself by checking Twitter to see what’s happened in the past day. No, you can’t go there either.
No worries. I’ll use the NYTimes App on my iPad to access the latest news. Fail! is blocked too.
I’ll just have to use Google to investigate which websites I can access from China. No, you can’t do that either. Google, Gmail, Google+ ... they’re all blocked.
Then I remember; I’ve saved some documents from my brother on my or Dropbox account. It’s time to read them. I’ll have to check both sites.
You guessed it. They’re both blocked.
Maybe his Internet connection is down? No ... shows throughput speeds approaching 100 Mbps, the fastest residential Internet service I’ve ever seen. Netflix is awesome!
With a bit more work, I eventually discover that Yahoo is sometimes available, perhaps whenever they’re not featuring “objectionable” content on their homepage. Lowly Bing (sorry Microsoft fans) is virtually always available and boy does it pop, as long as you don’t search for the wrong thing.
By the time my brother got home, his Internet connection was entirely offline. And strangely, his WiFi router’s SSID had reset to the original factory default (dd-wrt if you’re curious). I’ve never seen anything like that before. It must have been a fluke firmware failure.
Not a problem. He has a spare router. A few hours later we have it configured (including with proper security settings) and his Internet connection comes back. We’re online just in time for bed so I am confident that can get to work first thing in the morning.
Or not. By then, the new router had suffered the same fluke reset crash. What incredibly bad luck, don’t you think?
You can draw your own conclusions from my story, but here’s my takeaway: Next time you’re frustrated with a favorite website taking ten seconds to load, be appreciative of the Internet as you know it (in the US). It’s amazing!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

To Post or Not to Post...That is the Question

I saw an interesting post on my friend David Avrin's Facebook page where he talks about about receiving a message from someone he doesn’t know who challenged his wisdom of posting trivial things such as the breakfast cereal he likes, strange people he sits near on a flight, or funny comments about his kids. "You are an international business marketing expert," this person wrote. "This makes you look like an amatur!"
David’s response was: "Speaking and consulting is not who I am, it is what I do. And while I would never want to do anything to harm my reputation, I believe that people do business with people they like and people they trust. Social media can really 'humanize' someone that you may only know from their books or presentations. As I teach in my work: 'If you want people to be interested, you have to be interesting.' I try to keep my connections 'connected' by mixing it up. Besides, I have fun with it."
I couldn’t have said it better myself. We are people first and speakers second, and we engage with others through our personality. Whether I’m speaking, coaching or whatever, I am true to myself…it’s called “authenticy”. 
I am who I am.
And that phrase reminds me of the occasion of my “21st" birthday party this year when my dear Michael Allosso (below) and his equally fabulous wife Peggy created and sang their customized rendition of “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles aka The Birdcage movie with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. And to quote myself, “If I wasn’t born a girl, I would be a drag queen today.” It all just seems appropriate.

To the tune of "I AM WHAT I AM" (La Cage aux Folles) if you can’t hum it, go to YouTube!

She is what she is
Queen of show biz
Warmly contagious
Glitz with a big brain
Never mundane
Always outrageous
It's her night: we're her minions-
Mikki's presence gels us
Her night! So we'll wear whatever clothes
She tells us
Part Mame, Part Les Mis'
We all enjoy that Mikki is what she is

She is what she is
Every a.m. and every p.m.
She bangs her own drum,
Telling us all to carpe diem
And so what if she's raunchy,
Likes it in the trenches?
We know she's one of Chicago's 
Biggest mensches
Chair, speaker, a whiz
We're proud to say "Hey, world,
She is what she is!"

She is what she is, 
Likes what she likes,
All right, she's picky
Go look at her place; 
Watch her perform
All right she's shticky
Be loud!
Don't just say your words. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

And it Begins All Over Again...

I took off the whole month of August for a writing sabbatical - to work on my website revamp (wait til you see it!), and my book (it's coming, really!). So for the entire month of August I didn't do any traveling or speaking (well, just once!) or coaching, and you know what? I missed it!
I got a lot done but I'm back at it now; speaking, coaching, my Vistage meetings, Speakers! So I hit the ground running in September, and October is even more jam-packed. And I'm excited. Happy to be back out in the world with all my peeps!
Check out my calendar - see if you can come to one of my presentations. How fun would that be?

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Love This Book!

Prosperity in the Age of Decline
How to Lead Your Business and Preserve WealthThrough the Coming Business Cycles
by Brian and Alan Beaulieu

In the spirit of full disclosure, Brian Beaulieu is my Vistage member and I adore him but...if I didn't love this book then I simply wouldn't review it!!!  But...I did love this book, not only for the  on-target economic trend forecasting (94.7 accuracy) but for the valuable insights that will help guide your investment strategies or at the very least, make you more knowledgeable about what lies ahead and how that will affect you in business and personally. Who wouldn't want to be armed with info that will help us make better-informed decisions, be proactive in that decision making, feel confident 
that we are on top of our competitive advantage, deal with the uncertainties that lie ahead and plan intelligently? And if you read between the lines, you'll know this is a great gift for your kids or anyone you know who will be facing the future even longer term.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mikki and Michele's Marvelous Meanderings Through Italy

Flight was great, slept thru turbulence (am told), checked in to Grand Cavour Hotel near Piazza della Signoria. To lunch at Buca Dall'Orafo, we shared panzanella, mushroom torte and spaghetti with clams (a la vongole) Amazing!!

To Church of Santa Croce to see the tombs of Michelangelo, Gallileo, Dante Aligheria, Rossini and Machiavelli,,,all entombed in the same church, even this little Jewish gal was in awe. Walk, walk, walk to shoe shopping, saw THE most dazzling Italian man ever, I couldn't speak, what a surprise that is. Saw the David, now looking to find a real David, went to Gelateria for the most outrageous gelato (baci and coffee crunch) then to the most Mikki store in Florence, Luisa Via Roma and no didn't buy anything but drooled a lot over the pricing. Walked over 10 miles so we can now enjoy our flights of pasta tonight. Just half hour to get ready and post this...will post some photos from today when we come back from dinner if I don't collapse first from the 7 hour day one walk, shop, tour. Buona Sera.


Couldn't find the guy who went with the Maserati but did get kissed by Cupid, is that a sign?

Went to the leather market and yes, I already had to buy a new suitcase, yikes! Found shoe nirvana in Florence then back to lunch at Gilli at Palazzo Vecchio. Even the store bodyguards are "bellissimi" Walked 13 miles which hopefully nullifies the daily gelato), 
lovely dinner at La Giostra, top ten restaurant in Florence. 
Packing for Rome tomorrow, arriverderci!

Took the high speed train (first class of course) from Florence to Rome and checked into the fabulous boutique Art Hotel on the Via Margutta. Immediately dropped our bags and hit the Italian ground running for some more shopping, what else?
After that we walked (averaging about 13 miles a day) to the Pantheon and heard a gorgeous choir

while I stood in awe and managed to take some touristy photos. Walked to Piazza Navona and saw the Fountain of the Four Rivers, amazing. 
Then to lunch at Obika, mozzarella bar and had the most delicious meal of mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and fresh anchovies with foccaccia. My taste buds were singing. 
Walked to THE gelato place, Giolitti and had coconut and nutella, now really!!!! 

Took a ride down the luxurious Via Veneto, home of La Dolce Vita, then to the top of the Spanish Steps where I had my caricature done then walked down the famous steps back to hotel. 

Dinner at Le Sorelle then a walk to Trevi Fountain to throw some coins in but alas, alack, it was under construction. 
Oh Italia, soccer, cigarettes, gelato, motor scooters and so many men and shoes and so little time.

Got up VERY early to take a taxi by myself (like a big girl) to Vatican City for my tour. Yes, tour!! I hate tours but…it was that or wait in VERY long lines, which I hate more than tours. So this li’l Jewish gal from NYC did the holy tour of the Vatican, The Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica and it was beyond amazing.
As I sat silently in the Sistine Chapel, I was brought to tears by its magnificence and tonight my gratitude journal will overfloweth. I will admit I could have done the 4 hour tour in 2, but nevertheless it was awe-inspiring. 
Here's a photo of me with my Vatican guide, Alex, who speaks five languages. Now realllllllly! 

I finally managed my Italian currency enough to get back to hotel and meet Michele for lunch. It was time for “real” pizza!
Walked another 15 miles today, over to the Roman Forum and the Coliseum and found a Warhol exhibit which was a great surprise. Sidestep, oops detour...another fab shoe store. OK, OK, four days, four shoes. Just sayin’. 

On the way back we stopped for our daily gelato then to hotel to catch Italy lose to Uruguay in soccer, not a lot of happy Italians tonight. I am starting to enjoy a daily cappuccino, something I never did at home. There is a distinct flavor difference here.
No, not done: back to our fantastic Art Hotel to change shoes then out again. This time to the Villa Borghese, the home of the Borghese family, the most powerful family of the Renaissance period, patron of the arts, extreme wealth as obvious in the mansion and park-like grounds. Opulence abounds. Back at hotel yet again and dressing for dinner with Michele’s Italian friends and packing for Capri tomorrow (can’t wait!).

Oh yes, how could I forget to post the shoe store of the day? Then there was the Smoke Me shop that I did NOT go into. I also believe there are tremendous opportunities here for entrepreneurs in deodorant and toilet paper, but that's another story. 
So, dear friends, another incredible day as we left the hotel by Mercedes to be driven to Capri.

Well, sorta. Raphael drove us to Positano for lunch and along the way showed us the birthplace of Hercules and an island owned by Rudolph Nureyev with tales to tell. Did not know that Positano was named for Poseidon or that Sorrento is where all that amazing mozzarella I've been consuming is from. And yes, I had a Limoncello, which if you don’t is as close to a sacrilege as you can get…and remember I went to all those churches.

The drive up the Amalfi Coast was nothing short of breathtaking. After lunch, drove to (no, not me, silly, we had a driver) Sorrento to catch the hydrofoil to Capri. 

Well!!! Well!!! I have been all over the world and Capri has just made it into my top three most beautiful along with Santorini and Monte Carlo. It is ridiculously, outrageously gorgeous. And our hotel has to be the best -  Hotel Punta Tragara
After checking in, we went to Anacapri…you guessed it…shopping, via a hot pink convertible taxi. Had sandals made by a cobbler, had our daily gelato and walked and walked and walked. We have done over 60 miles since we got to Italy. 

Back to hotel to change for dinner at Villa Verde then to the famous Quisisana Hotel for cappuccino as a fellow Vistage Chair Alan Weinstein walked by. Now really!! 
Tomorrow the beach, woo hop! La spiaggia! Buona Notte da Capri.

3 Sangrias, 1 Prosecco and 1 Limoncello plus 1000 steps up and down to the beach make this day in Capri one for the history books. OK now seriously, if there is another more beautiful place on earth, stand up now or forever hold your peace. Seriously, Capri!!!! 
Had a leisurely breakfast on terrace of hotel overlooking the Med. Then the steps!!! But so worth it. For a gal who cherishes “experiences” this was one of the best. 
La Fontelina Beach Club is all on volcanic rock, no sand, no beach, just fabulous rock formations dotted with beach chairs and mattresses (yes you read that right) Then what? More shopping, sillies:-) and time to explore more off beaten pathways on this incredible island. I picked tonight’s restaurant Le Camarelle which was perfection…beautiful, outdoors, Italian singers serenading us and perfect weather. I’m a happy camper:-)



Breakfast and lunch on the veranda of our gorgeous hotel Punta Tragara in Capri (which defies description it is sooooo beautiful) then to the spa, followed by a lazy day at the pool and a ride down the funicolare until…our private boat ride around the island with Franco.

I took over 100 photos, one more gorgeous than the next…the yachts, the volcanic formations, the crystal clear aquamarine waters, the homes and then…and then…and then…the green grotto, oh me oh my. Next we motored to a cove that shoots out water so they call it champagne cove and the water looks like a rainbow. The speaker is speechless! 
Took their fabulous fun open air taxi to Anacapri (Ana means above) so yes, it’s quite the elevation and had cocktails, (yes I did it again and many of you know I DON”T drink!) but had a Bellini at the Caesar Augustus Hotel, a Relais and Chateaux property which are my favorites around the world. 
Back to our hotel to dress for our last dinner in this magical paradise called Capri and dine at Mamma’s ristorante. 
What a week! Headed to Naples tomorrow then back to Rome for the night before heading home on Sunday (for 12 hours before I leave for CA). Buona Notte!

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Love My Job!

There are so many perks for what I do, but the best is when I receive awesome letters like this from my clients. See why I love my job?

Hi Mikki, 
Well it's been 3 months since you left us awestruck at our national sales meeting and people are still talking, laughing and reminiscing about your presentation and workshops.  I have been in this industry for 26 years and have been to countless sales meetings and I truly can't recall a speaker who in such a short time, could have the immediate and lasting impact that you had.  I think people are still singing  “oh Mikki you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mikki…hey Mikki!..” to this day! 
It was more than just cracking us all up, which you sure did, but your inspiring stories, valuable lessons and actionable ideas gave us something to learn from and sink our teeth into.  I heard from so many of our top producers that your workshops were the best they've ever attended.  Boy,  I never knew there were so many synonyms for “fantastic” until I read the reviews from your sessions. 
Selecting a main stage speaker can always be a bit stressful,  as the success and mood of the meeting can be greatly influenced by the enjoyment and perceived value from the audience.  Thank you for making us look so smart for inviting you to our meeting, and for making our producers so happy they came!   Your talk catapulted our morning and  set the stage for the rest of the conference to be a smash.  I’ve told everyone  that if they are looking to excite, encourage, inspire, and crack up their attendees at their next conference….then look no further, just “Slip ‘em a Mikki”!! 
Thank you! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chair Excellence Award

I just received another Chair Excellence Award for leading two groups for Vistage, the world's foremost executive organization. It's been my honor and pleasure to work for them for 12 years and to guide two groups of THE most amazing people!

Here's a little about Vistage:
Work on Your Business with CEOs,
Executives and Owners Just Like You 
Since 1957, Vistage has made a difference by bringing together groups of successful executives across a broad array of industries. The goal: more success. Each group is designed to help members help each other improve their businesses and their lives. 
Vistage groups meet once a month to solve problems, evaluate opportunities and work on an assortment of strategic and operational issues. They are confidential forums of experienced executives who rely on each other for wisdom and counsel.

If you want to know more about Vistage and how you can benefit, call me: 312.664.8447 or send me an email for more info
If I can't be your Chair I can help you find the right one for you anywhere in the country. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Want to catch me in action?

If you're looking for a speaker for your next event, trade association or organization, and would like the opportunity to see me in action, check out my speaking schedule below (or on the website) and send an email or call 312.664.8447 to see if there's space available for you to attend, and get a preview. I'd love to see you there!
March 2014
Tampa, FL
Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Chicago, IL
Chicago, Illinois
April 2014
San Diego, CA
Denver, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Speakers School - Chicago
May 2014

Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL
Las Vegas, NV
Atlanta, GA