Interview on The Nikki Clarke Show

On August 17th, I am being interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke on the Nikki Clarke Show. I'm sure we'll discuss some exciting topics like issues of the day, coaching, public speaking, volunteerism, women's empowerment and the list could go on! The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.
The show also airs on Rogers Channels 672/673 and Bell Fibe Channels 559/560.

The interview is going to be awesome!

7 Tips to Have an Effective Mentoring Relationship

Being a mentor is a very rewarding experience when you help someone (the mentee) develop or enhance their skills in a specific area. Having been a mentor (and coach) to numerous people throughout my life, I can attest first hand to the happiness that you feel when you contribute to someone's personal growth and development. Coaching is a different type of relationship and in a future post, I will discuss the difference between mentoring and coaching. When entering into a mentoring relationship you should have clear expectations whether you are the mentor or the mentee. Here are 7 tips to help ensure that you have a successful mentoring relationship. They are:

1. Before entering into a mentoring relationship, perform a self-assessment in terms of your individual strengths and weaknesses in order to help you maximize the relationship.

2. If you are the mentee, determine your individual goals and objectives before beginning to formally meet with your mentor.

3. Determine how much time you can commit to the mentoring relationship i.e. three face to face meetings in a six month period and three phone calls. Stick to that schedule.

4. When meetings are scheduled, come prepared with specific agenda items to discuss and keep notes of what transpired during the meeting. Keeping notes can help you to track your progress towards your goals.

5. At each meeting, review the progress/status of your goals that you initially established if you are the mentee to determine how much progress you've made. Keeping track helps you to determine what further actions are required.

6. Throughout the mentoring relationship keep a “success journal.” Keep track of the success that you are making as you progress towards your goals.

7. At the end of the mentorship period, review your overall progress towards the goals that you set at the beginning of the relationship. Once the formal mentoring relationship ends, ideally both the mentor and the mentee should give each other feedback. By delivering feedback to each other, you can determine the overall success of goals achieved. In recognition of both of your efforts celebrate the achievement of the goals and the success that you both have achieved.

It is important to have clearly defined goals at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, work on achieving those goals and chart progress towards those goals. Being a mentor can be a very satisfying way that you contribute to someone's life.

Please comment and share if you received value from these useful tips.

Leadership Lessons from Leadership Expert John C. Maxwell

“Leadership is a verb not a noun.” John C. Maxwell

John Maxwell is a leadership guru who has written numerous New York Times best-selling books on the topics of leadership and personal development. For well over four decades, he has written on the topic of leadership in addition to coaching leaders and consulting with companies and organizations. I recently had the opportunity to meet John Maxwell in person and other outstanding Thought Leaders at the Change Leadership Conference in Toronto. Maxwell delivered a humorous and enlightening keynote on leadership in today’s environment.

While there were numerous insights I gleaned from his talk, one of the key insights that stood out right from the start is that according to Maxwell, “leadership is a verb not a noun.” What this means is that leadership is the act of doing, it’s not a static entity. My opinion is there are people who are great managers (they know the functional and technical aspects of their job) yet they need to grow into being a leader. Maxwell described leadership as a process, which I understood to mean that over time it is possible to grow into a high level of leadership capacity. I think for many of us this is a relief to know as the term “leaders are born and not made,” is often used when describing an outstanding leader. Describing leadership as a process means that no matter where someone is at in their leadership journey, developing the skills to be an excellent leader can be developed with the right mentoring, coaching and tools.

A good metaphor that I liked that Maxwell used was the concept of the “leadership lid.” An organization and its employee or team members can only develop or grow as high as the leadership lid of its leaders. For example, say there was a scale of one to five and the top leader was operating at a level one. The employees and the organization as a whole would not be able to move past the level one leadership lid. If employees are capable of moving past level one, they will not stay in that organization over the long term because they will feel they are stagnating in their roles. Also, the organization as a whole will suffer and stagnant. If the top leader or leadership team is operating at a high level, everyone in the organization benefits and is elevated to that level, including the organization as a whole.

The majority of Maxwell’s presentation focused on the five levels of leadership described in his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential. In his talk and in the book, he describes each of the levels of leadership. Level five leadership is the highest a leader can aspire to in their leadership journey. For more specific info about the various levels of leadership, read the book. In a nutshell, here is what I took away from his talk about the five levels of leadership.

Level One Leaders
Level one leaders have authority by virtue of their position and title. People follow these leaders because of their title and it takes minimal effort to convince people to follow level one leaders. In other words, people follow directions because their leader is the boss. If you are an employee and you want to stay employed, following the directions of your boss keeps you employed. Unfortunately, level one leadership (i.e. leadership by title) is the level of leadership that prevails in many companies and organizations. The leaders who have the authority to lead are not necessarily the most visionary leaders in an organization. Sometimes through tenure or seniority, some people have the authority to lead simply because of their title and position, not necessarily because they are a good leader.

Level Two Leaders
Level two leaders start to build relationships. According to Maxwell, there are various questions that followers at this level ask of their leaders. These questions can include: 1) do they like me? 2) can you help me and 3) can I trust you? In other words, as my leader will you manipulate me or help to motivate me to achieve goals? Leaders who start to gain the trust of their followers beyond their title, start to build trust in their followers and enhance their relationships. Level two leaders listen and ask questions. Their followers see that these leaders are open to building relationships. These leaders listen, learn and lead.

Level Three Leaders
Level three leaders are leaders who start to have the moral authority to lead. In other words, people don’t follow level three leaders just because of their title and position. They follow these leaders because they have been successful and they have a track record of successful leadership. Level three leaders are now teaching others what they know and are sharing their knowledge with their followers.

Level Four Leaders
Level four leaders start to gain momentum when it comes to leadership. Level four leaders start to really empower their followers. These leaders gain momentum because they have built upon the other levels of leadership. At this level, leaders have the formal title and position. As leaders, they are listening to their followers and incorporating the learnings into their leadership style. Level four leaders have a successful track record of leading others through their moral authority of listening and learning. And they also share their knowledge to empower others. Level four leaders want to equip and empower their followers so that their followers can start to be leaders in their own right.

Level Five Leaders
Level five leadership is the pinnacle of the leadership levels. Level five leaders have successfully gone through the various levels of leadership. People follow them because of who they are. They lead by example. Level five leaders want their followers to become successful, independent leaders who will empower other people. In other words, according to Maxwell, the person you equipped is equipping others. In the John Maxwell organization, they only invest in people who invest in others.

I thought the five levels of leadership scale is an excellent barometer to test where people are at in terms of their leadership journey, style and impact.

Another key point that really stood out for me from John Maxwell’s talk was his perspective on consistency. Maxwell revealed that he has been asked numerous times over the years, what is the key to his success. According to him, the key determinant of his success was consistency over 45 plus years of doing his leadership work. For me, it was a brilliant insight when he said, “Consistency Compounds.” Think about some of the less than stellar results you may have achieved or not achieved in your life. What were some the contributing factors? I’m sure lack of consistency played a factor in some shape or form. Let me leave you some questions to ask yourself to help you gain insight on your success journey.

1.If leadership can be described as a process. What steps are you taking to enhance your leadership skills to assist the process?
2.Where are you in terms of the five levels of leadership and how can you improve?
3.What would happen to your life if you made consistency a dominant factor? Stay tuned in the next few weeks. I will be writing a major blog post on the topic of consistency!

I always love hearing from my readers, share your thoughts on any of the above.

Exciting Interview on the Nikki Clarke Show!

I was interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke for the Nikki Clarke Network on June 12th. Our engaging interview discussed everything from coaching to how to overcome blocks to success and how people can step into their authentic power as leaders and as speakers. The first part of our interview will be broadcast through her online radio station.

The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.

The Nikki Clarke Show is also broadcast on two television networks: Rogers and Bell Fibe. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview!

Lessons in Abundance from Dr. John Demartini

One year ago, I had the pleasure of attending a conference where Dr. John Demartini was one of the keynote speakers. Dr. Demartini is an international best selling author, educator and public speaker focusing on high performance in human behaviour. He helps people develop the mindset and behaviours required to create success. Dr. Demartini started from incredibly humble circumstances and has achieved great success in his life. Recently, I was reflecting on his talk and here are three keys lessons that I am sharing with you. They are:

Our Values Determine Our Financial Destiny

According to Dr. Demartini there are certain characteristics and mindset that must be developed in order to build wealth. One of the main ones is that you must know your values. Your values determine what goals you go after in life. Dr. Demartini posits that our highest values filter i.e. determine our reality. In other words, you will always find the time and the money for things that you value most. For example, if you say that you value health the most, yet you live a sedentary lifestyle and drink and smoke like there is no tomorrow, chances are being healthy is not one of your highest values. More likely you value pleasure and immediate gratification above a healthy lifestyle. People need to look at what they value without judgment. Getting real with what we value and realizing if our lives demonstrate the opposite of what we value, that realization could be a turning point to make change in our lives. Knowing your values is important in goal setting because if a goal is not in alignment with your values, then there is a high probability you won’t achieve it. A big part of goal achievement is setting goals in alignment with our highest values which is important when it comes to building wealth.

Guilt and Shame Prevent People From Receiving Abundance

In my experience, people who are wealthy or affluent are comfortable with making and receiving money. Money is simply a tool that helps them achieve their goals in life. A key part of building wealth is by being receptive to abundance in your life. In other words, do you feel worthy to receive abundance in all its forms? Abundance can take the form of love, good health, wealth, pleasure, friendship and the list could on. People are often comfortable with some forms of abundance but deep down they don’t feel worthy to receive others. You are worthy because you were created by the Divine. If you feel unworthy you will self sabotage or not take the action required to achieve your goals. According to Dr. Demartini you be must be willing to move past, liberate and process any guilt or shame over incidents in your life that have prevent you from receiving abundance. Anything that you feel shame or guilt about find a way to process it in a compassionate and forgiving manner. One of the initial ways that you can start processing these feelings is by writing them down in a journal or diary. You could also speak to a trusted family member, friend or if need be a therapist to help you move forward. Remember that nothing in life is wasted. Through every experience you have been made stronger, more courageous and resilient! For whatever may have occurred in your life learn to love, forgive and have compassion for yourself.

Make a Contribution by Serving Others

While it’s amazing to be able to use or express your gifs, ensure that you’re using them to help others. Be willing to make a contribution to the world, don’t just take up space. Ask yourself on a regular basis, Wayne Dyer’s famous question, “How Can I Serve?” After all, you are as Dr. Demartini would say, “a citizen of the world.” You have the potential to impact people globally not just where you were born and grew up. Sometimes people don’t know how to contribute and the first step is looking at your gifts and figuring out how to help other others. Start generating ideas in order to make an impact. At the conference, Dr. Demartini asked the attendees to do an exercise where they generated ideas to use their gifts to build wealth and help others. He encouraged us to make the following lists. They are:

• List 200 ways that you can benefit by serving the most numbers of people.
• List 200 ways to invest.
• List 200 ways to accumulate a vast fortune.
• List 200 ways to leave a legacy.

Once you have these lists compiled go through them and pick the ones where you feel you can set goals and make the most impact. You will be surprised at how brilliant and creative you are when you generate your lists!

The overall lesson that I took from Dr. Demartini’s keynote speech is that we are here to serve and make an impact. We can let shame, guilt, excuses, unworthiness, failure, family, society among a myriad of reasons prevent us from fulfilling our purpose and destiny. Or we can make the courageous decision to: live our values, deal with our feelings compassionately and use our gifts to fulfill our purpose while helping others. Now that is an abundant life indeed!

Three Ways to Play a Bigger Game in Life!

Rick Tamlyn is an international coach, speaker and author of Play Your Bigger Game. In the book and in his speeches and workshops, he helps people live more meaningful and purposeful lives by elevating the way they play their game. The game being a metaphor for life. I attended one of his introductory workshops and here are some key takeaways that I learned about how to play a bigger game in life. They are:

1. Be laser focused when it comes to your priorities. The world was here before you or I were born and there is a good chance it will be here long after we have departed the mortal coil. Meaning that if you set out with the goal to change the world, you’re going to be frustrated. With all the issues in the world it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Does that mean that you don’t fight the good fight for causes you believe in or against injustices that exist in the world. Of course not. You continue to advocate for issues that you believe in and rail against injustices. To deal with the overwhelm when you want to make a difference, pick an area or areas where you can make the largest impact for the most amount of people and focus in on those areas. Each human being only has so much time and energy and being laser focused helps you to achieve your highest priorities. Being laser focused on your priorities means that you know how you want to contribute and the type of impact or legacy that you want to leave. Look at how you can positively impact your sphere of influence with the causes you believe in. Sometimes you don’t need to go far, you can start with your family, your work or your neighbourhood.

2. Have a vision and be committed to it. Often in life people lack the confidence to start working on a goal or project. They believe they can’t finish a project or reach a goal, so they don’t bother starting. Even if you don’t have everything figured out when starting out on a goal, your level of commitment can help you achieve that goal. Rick Tamlyn says that “the antidote to lack of confidence is being committed.” When you know your values and have a vision for your life, it is easier to commit to a goal even if all the details aren’t worked out. For example, if getting healthy was a matter of life or death for you, your commitment to being healthy and living would make you figure out the details. Knowing your values and having a vision for your life can help you with being committed to a goal. When you have a life vision , it’s very easy to commit to priorities that fit within that vision and say no to things that don’t.

3. Play (live) outside of your comfort zone. Rick Tamlyn says that, “Playing a bigger game will design who I become.” If you are continuously “playing it safe” and not learning or growing, you will find your life becoming stagnant. When you don’t set new goals or aim for new achievements, it’s challenging for new opportunities, people and things to come into your life. Stepping outside of your comfort zone may mean setting a new vision for your life where you have to let go of people, places, things as well as things about yourself that don’t fit into your new life vision. We are creative beings. At any time we can choose who we are and who we want to be. We are not limited by our past, family, or societal programming and conditioning. While it does take work to bring your vision or goals to fruition, it is worth the time and effort required. When you learn to play outside your comfort zone while using your gifts and talents to serve others, life is enjoyable and you learn to live your life purpose. So have fun, take those calculated risks, learn something new, reach out to someone and love with an open heart.

Here’s to playing Your Bigger Game!

Six Tips To Help You When You Are a Panelist

Recently, I was invited to be part of a panel on women and entrepreneurship at an entrepreneurship expo at the Ontario Science Centre. I was part of a panel that included a moderator and two other panelists. The moderator was Katherine Roos, Executive Director – Imagination Catalyst at OCAD University. The two panelists were: Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya, CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics and Chakameh Shafii, CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool. It was a wonderful experience. The moderator asked questions to the panelists for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with audience members.

If you have the opportunity to participate as part of a panel, I highly recommend it. Here are six tips that can help you navigate the opportunity when you are invited to be a panelist. They are:

1. Panel Fit. Before you accept the invitation to be part of a panel, determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are a variety of reasons why you could be asked to be on a panel. You could be invited based on: your expertise, your professional experience, your education, your network, or your profile and platform. Before you accept the invitation, decide if being a panelist is a good fit for you. Take into consideration your professional experience and the value that you would add to the panel. When I accepted the invitation to participate, I decided that it was a good fit. The other two panelists were CEOs and based on my experience as a “solopreneur” in the coaching and consulting areas, I could give a unique perspective. Being on the panel was also in alignment with my commitment to women’s issues, including economic empowerment.

2. Conduct Your Research. In order to prepare properly, conduct research into the following: the organization hosting the panel, the topic under consideration, the moderator and the other panelists. Doing your research in advance will help you to speak credibly to the topic that will be discussed. I conducted research into all the above and it served me well on the panel.

3. Questions from the Moderator. If possible try to obtain some examples of the questions that the moderator might ask in advance of the panel and prepare accordingly. If you are unable to obtain some of the questions in advance, prepare a few sample questions and practice with them. I anticipated what some of the questions might be and some of those questions were asked.

4. Share Personal Stories. You were asked to be part of a panel because of your expertise and professional background. The audience members want to learn about your journey. Be prepared to share relevant, personal stories that highlight your area of expertise. One area where I got personal was when the moderator asked me who my mentor was. I mentioned my mother who taught me the tenacity, courage, perseverance, empathy and compassion that I need to succeed in business and in life.

5. Questions from the Audience. Similar to preparing for the moderator’s questions, anticipate some questions that might come from the audience. When the questions are asked, answer to the best of your ability. I brainstormed a few potential questions in advance and some of them were asked by audience members.

6. Connect with Your Host. Before the date of the panel, ensure that you have communicated with your host well in advance. Have at least one phone call with your host in addition to email communication to determine the event expectations and the venue location/time. If he or she doesn’t do so automatically, ask to be connected with the panel moderator to touch base. On the date of the event, arrive early, connect with the host and make sure that you know where the panel meeting room location is. After the event, thank the host for the wonderful opportunity.

While you may not have participated on a panel (yet), these tips will help you navigate that opportunity smoothly. When opportunity knocks, preparation will enable you to open the door with full confidence!

Featured Speaker at Swift Networking Event on March 30, 2017

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your network. On March 30, 2017, I will be a featured speaker at a networking event called: Swift Networking. I would love to see you there! The topic of my presentation is called: Develop Your Signature Speech. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this dynamic workshop, I will teach you tips and strategies on how to develop your signature speech. You will learn:

– The components that you need to develop your signature speech.
– How to research your ideal target audience or clients.
– What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.
– What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.
– What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

I'll be speaking along with two other great speakers. Tickets are selling fast. You can purchase your tickets here!

Purchase Swift Networking Tickets

My passion in life is helping people to develop their leadership and communication skills to the highest level. It’s a privilege to be able to help people get their work out into the world. Feel free to reach out to me if I can be of service to you.

Looking forward to see you there!

Deborah

The Art of Empowerment: The Divine Always Supports You!

Daring and taking risks is something that most people grapple with throughout their lifetime for a variety of reasons. Most people have not achieved their heart’s desire because they stay stuck within the status quo and don’t try new things. Through maintaining the status quo in life, you will become stagnant if you are not using your gifts and talents to their fullest capacity. We all know that anything in life that is worth having involves hard work, determination, and relentless pursuit of goals. How then can you accelerate your journey to realizing your dreams. There are numerous ways that this can be done.

The first is to be conscious of your mortality. The truth of the matter is that we all know that we are living on borrowed time. Instead of living in fear of the inevitable, let’s use this knowledge to free ourselves in order to live the best possible life. If one day we are going to leave the mortal coil, we shouldn’t be intimidated or scared to try to new things. Be purposeful, dare and take calculated risks. Make each day count! The second thing we can do to accelerate the trajectory towards our dreams is to eliminate or let go of the need for external approval for how we live our lives. As long as we are not breaking any laws or hurting anyone, how we live our lives is our choice. Let go of your need to be approved of and liked all the time. Pursue your dreams and heart’s desire with passion and determination. The third way that we can accelerate our journey is through committed, strategic action!

Each of you has something special to contribute to the planet based on your unique gifts. The fact that you are on the planet means that you already beat the odds to be here. You are here because of God’s Divine plan for your life. You have what it takes to be a success in life. For some of you that means being an excellent parent, spouse, child or family member. It could mean being a great friend, active in your faith or volunteer community, creating art, or being successful in your career among many possibilities.

Always remember to pursue your dreams and never give up. The Divine will always support your endeavours for your highest good.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (December 2016 issue)

Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop

Develop Your Signature Speech Workshop: Learn to attract new clients, expand your network and leverage opportunities! (Wednesday, December 7, 2016)

Are you a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who is looking to connect with your ideal clients and grow your network? Speaking engagements are an excellent way to connect with potential clients and expand your professional network. A signature speech is a presentation that outlines your key area of expertise when you are invited to speak at events. Developing your signature speech can help you to leverage your speaking engagements to connect with potential clients, maximize sales and other opportunities.

Developing your signature speech ensures that you are ready to speak on your area of expertise at a moment’s notice and attract potential clients and opportunities to you. In this hour long introductory workshop, you will learn tips, techniques and strategies on how to develop your signature speech.

In the workshop you will learn:

• An overview of the fundamentals of public speaking.

• The elements that you need to develop your signature speech.

• Develop the components of your signature speech.

• How to research your ideal target audience.

• What you can do before your presentation to ensure that you maximize your speaking engagement.

• What you can do during your presentation to connect with potential clients and your audience.

• What you can do after your presentation in order to collect leads, maximize opportunities for sales and develop your network.

This is an introductory 1 hour workshop conducted on behalf of the Pink Portfolio Group on December 7th, 2016. In the new year Deborah will conduct a more in depth workshop on How To Develop Your Signature Speech. She is also available for 1:1 customized presentation skills coaching and can assist with presentation design and development of your signature speech.

To register for the introductory workshop you can register here.
Signature Speech Workshop

To contact Deborah for personalized coaching and consulting services please call 416-546-3390 or email deb@deborahangelaustin.com

The Art of Empowerment: Set Goals to Achieve Your Dreams!

Many people feel motivated to pursue their goals with tenacity at the start of a new calendar year in January. These goals could range anywhere from losing weight, getting in shape, quitting smoking, reducing debt and starting a new relationship. When the end of the year rolls around, it is unfortunate that many people who set goals at the beginning of the year have not stayed the course when it comes to achieving their goals.

The truth of the matter is we don’t need the beginning of the year to set goals or create new possibilities for ourselves. We are creative beings who can create numerous possibilities for ourselves at any time we choose. Each of us is capable of not just going through the motions of life. We are capable of building a life that we truly love that includes our dreams. Here are three tips that can help you achieve your goals.

The first tip is learn to establish good habits. The reason that many people don’t achieve their goals is because they have bad habits that don’t set them up for success. When you have bad habits, it’s difficult to achieve goals. Work on developing positive habits that support the type of person that you want to be.

The second tip that can help you achieve your goals is the accountability factor. Ultimately we are responsible and accountable for our lives. In a perfect world, each of us would be able to set goals effectively, break them down into smaller steps and then take the necessary action steps towards our goals. In other words, we would be highly accountable. Most people though need help in this area. It is an excellent idea if you can get an accountability partner or coach who can help you stay on track with your goals.

The third tip to help you achieve your goals is to understand your big why of why you want to achieve your goals. Understanding the underlying reasons of why your goals are important to you can help you achieve your goals, especially in challenging times. Find a way to make your goals meaningful enough to you so that you understand the consequences of not achieving your goals.

None of us wants to live a life of regret. Part of being fulfilled in life involves the feeling of satisfaction and success that is associated with achieving your goals. Achieving your goals involves developing excellent habits, being accountable and understanding the big why of the importance of your goals. By taking action towards your goals you can live the life of your dreams!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (November 2016 issue)

Insights from Visionary Leader Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Mohammad Yunus

The world needs visionary leaders more than ever. One visionary leader who has changed the world through microfinance is Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Dr. Yunus from Bangladesh is a banker, economist, social entrepreneur and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. He is the author of several books including, Banker to the Poor.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Yunus speak as part of a panel at a microfinance and microcredit summit. Dr. Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in the 1980s. Grameen means village bank. Since that time the Grameen Bank has loaned out over 1.5 billion (USD) in microloans mainly to women who are 97 percent of the loan recipients.

In Bangladesh, these microloans are often between $30.00 (USD) to $35.00 (USD) and have helped women start microenterprises. These loans enable women in Bangladesh to change their entire life's trajectory. When they start businesses, the women who are loan recipients are able to pay for their children's education and give back to their local community. Entire villages are improved because of these microloans. The loans also have a high repayment rate of 97 percent.

Since the Grameen Bank started in Bangladesh more than 9 million women have received microloans. These loans have in turn impacted between 40 – 45 million people which includes the women’s families and local communities which is remarkable. The Grameen Bank model is now operating outside of Bangladesh in several cities, including New York City. In the various locations, the model is similar in providing microloans to the poor and people who traditionally would not be able to qualify for a loan to start a business.

There were several major takeaways from the summit. Dr. Yunus spoke about the “three zeros,” which are the targets that the world should be aiming for in order to improve the quality of life for everyone. They include: zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions. Now these targets may seem like an impossible dream. If we work together as a global community on initiatives to improve the quality of life for every human on the planet who is to say that one day these targets might come true. That is what true visionaries do. They envision possibility for a better world despite what currently exists. Visionaries also take action to make their visions a reality. For the zero poverty target, we all know that there are more than enough resources to go around world wide for everyone. According to Dr. Yunus, people don’t choose to be poor. It is the prevailing economic systems that keep people in poverty even when they are willing, have the skills and want to work. That is why entrepreneurship is so powerful. Starting a business can help lift people out of poverty through their own ingenuity, skills and talents.

One of the major takeaways from the summit was that entrepreneurship is not the purview or the domain of a select few. Another target the world should be aiming for is zero unemployment. Again this is linked back to entrepreneurship. According to Dr. Yunus, “human beings by birth are entrepreneurs.” There is a prevailing myth that only certain people can be entrepreneurs. Dr. Yunus believes that each one of us has the capacity to use our skills and talents to create a business.

In other words, we were not designed for drudgery in a job or career that we don't love or are not passionate about where we can’t make a difference. In Bangladesh, when women were advanced loans they were able to start businesses with no or minimal business training. They used their creativity, ingenuity, skills and leveraged their village network in order to create profitable microbusinesses. In addition to zero poverty and zero unemployment, zero carbon emissions was also a target discussed in order to make our planet a healthier place to live.

The panel was excellent and included leaders from the Aboriginal Community who reinforced the fact that there are so many talented and skilled Aboriginal people, especially youth who are doing amazing things in the community. Microcredit will continue to help revolutionize the developing world and help marginalized people in the developed world. By providing access to smaller amounts of capital, the poor and marginalized communities can start businesses to elevate their circumstances. It was an excellent summit and a true honour to listen to Dr. Yunus and other visionary leaders who are helping to change the world.

Interviewed on the Silver Linings Storycast

I was recently interviewed by Debbie Horovitch who is the Publisher and Editor of The Silver Linings Storybook series. The interview was for the Silver Linings Storycast podcast. In the interview we talk about business, the creative struggle, making an impact in the community and everything in between! The interview is for the Toronto edition of The Silver Linings Storybook series in which I will be a featured contributor. It is a very exciting project as the proceeds will benefit a local charity or non-profit organization. You can listen to the podcast interview here! Silver Linings Storycast Interview

The Art of Empowerment: Practice Compassion

The world needs more compassion. A bold statement indeed, yet I'm sure that many of you would agree with that statement. Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling and compassion takes it one step further through action to help alleviate suffering. When I was a child, my first major lesson involving compassion occurred when two homeless teenage girls came to live with my family.

To complicate the situation, one of the teens was pregnant. It was my mother who encountered the teens and had learned about their plight. She invited them for dinner and through circumstances they ended up living with my family for well over a month. They stayed with my family until they could get permanent help. They teens eventually with my mother’s help found an apartment and the pregnant girl had a beautiful healthy baby.

I believe that having that experience early in my life permeated my consciousness and left a deep imprint. It informed some of the volunteer work that I do as I believe that it’s important to give back to the community. The experience helped me to realize even at a young age that on some level, call it the spiritual level, we are all connected. If we’re connected, then it makes sense to reach out to our fellow human beings in times of need.

We can perform compassionate acts, yet compassion really is a practice. Just as we can have an exercise routine or a meditation practice, the same applies to compassion. The more that we exercise our “compassion muscle,” the easier it will be for us to be compassionate. I believe that compassion can teach us several life lessons. The first one is that compassion involves a willingness to be open to see pain or suffering in our midst. Helping someone may not be as dramatic as helping two homeless teens get off the street. It could be in our homes, workplaces or among our circle of friends where compassion is needed. It is easy to get insular and not be concerned about people who may be going through a difficult time.

Another lesson that compassion teaches us is to be nonjudgmental with the people that we are reaching out to or trying to help. When we act compassionately we do the best that we can in the situation and then as much as possible detach from the outcome. Lastly, being compassionate teaches us to operate from our hearts and not the rational mind. You may encounter a situation where it does not seem rational to act yet your heart is compelling you to move in that direction. I invite you to look for those moments in your life where you can be compassionate because you never know the life changing impact that you can have in another person’s life.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (October 2016 issue)

Powerful Lessons from the Legacy of Dr. Wayne Dyer

The one year anniversary occurred this past August of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer at the age of 75. As a prolific author, teacher, and lecturer, Dr. Dyer’s work positively affected millions of people around the globe. His body of work has impacted me throughout my life. He was compassionate, kind and truly wanted people to succeed and evolve our consciousness so that every human on the planet could thrive.

At the Hay House Conference, I attended in May, a special tribute was dedicated to Wayne Dyer, as he was a big part of the Hay House family. The tribute showcased his teachings that reflected his philosophy of life. From the tribute, I’m sharing with you several key lessons from his work with some of my personal reflections. They are:

1. Want for others what I want for myself. If you want peace, happiness, wealth, good health and success for yourself, wish those things for others. Having positive vibes and wishing blessings on other people can have a powerful effect on you and how you show up in the world.

2. Think from the end. Be determined to live a beautiful and generous life, a life in alignment with your spiritual core. Have a vision for your life and how you want to serve. Work on bringing your vision to reality by breaking down your goals into manageable parts to make your dreams and vision unfold.

3. Be an appreciator. Instead of examining what you don’t have, appreciate all the you DO have. When you examine what you do have, you realize that you have been blessed with much in this life.

4. Stay in rapport with Source Energy. As God is our creator, staying in alignment with the energy of love, gratitude and peace helps us navigate challenges and keep focused on our priorities.

6. Contemplate myself with conditions that I wish to have. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have focus on the things that you want to bring into your life. Visualize, meditate and contemplate those things daily.

7. Be skilled in the Art of Allowing. You are a gift. Stop fighting and resisting who you are. Own your power and your brilliance. Allow God to come in and support you in all that you do.

8. Practice humility. Each of us is doing the best that we can at any given time. No matter how high you rise in life, practice humility. Absolutely be proud of who you are and your talents. At the same time, remember that we all live on borrowed time and be kind to each other.

9. Be in a constant state of gratitude. Does anything else need to be said? The fact that we are alive and can experience life is a blessing. Let the gratitude flow.

10. Stay away from judgment. While easier said than done, as much as possible learning to be as non-judgemental as we can, is well worth the effort. You will have greater peace of mind to take action on the priorities that are important to you.

11. Play the Match Game. Match with what you want in this life not with what you don’t want. If you are a positive person and there are negative people or influences in your life, minimize or eliminate your time spent with them.

12. Meditate. Meditation is a powerful tool to connect with God. Cultivating a daily practice can help you develop inner peace.

In addition, here are a few of my other favourite sayings from him. They are:

Be independent of the good opinions of others. You don’t have to justify how you lead your life as long as you are not hurting anyone. In other words, as Dr. Dyer would say “Don’t complain and don’t explain.” How you live your life is no one else’s business.

On your mind place a “Do Not Disturb Sign.” This is another one of my favourites. Do not allow anything to enter your mind that is not for your higher good. Be selective of the thoughts that enter your mind and ensure that they are positive to help you lead the best possible life.

Thoughts are energy. How you think is very important. Ensure that you are cultivating positive thoughts both to yourself and other people. The type of thoughts you develop will be the basis on which you take action. Therefore, if you think negative, self-defeating thoughts it will be challenging to take positive action. Learn to develop loving, peaceful, forgiving and grateful thoughts and see how your life unfolds.

Learn to go from Pissed to Blissed! As humans we feel the full gamut of emotions from love to fear and everything in between. Learning to take control of our emotions can help us with daily living. The way that we do that is through cultivating a practice where we can connect with the Divine and allow space to feel our emotions. You can do this through meditation, prayer, walking in nature or anything that helps you to live a more peaceful and blissful life.

At a conference in Toronto a few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Dyer. It was a life changing moment. Out of all of his lessons, the most important that I will always take away from him is to nurture my connection with my Eternal Source i.e. God. Nurturing that connection to the Divine Source can help you to stay connected to the things that are most important to you and that which you desire to bring forth in your life.

A quote that I love that Dr. Dyer would often use from Einstein is: “Do I live in a friendly or a hostile universe.” Think about that question for a moment for yourself. The way that you answer the question reveals your outlook on life and your perspective really can determine your outcomes in life.

Dr. Dyer’s powerful lessons and beautiful legacy live on through the millions of lives he touched through his books, lectures, videos, meditations and various programs. We are truly blessed to have had a spiritual teacher like him. If you have not been exposed to his work yet, I highly recommend, The Power of Intention to start with or his meditation book called: Getting in the Gap.

The Art of Empowerment: Your Imagination is Powerful

Do you remember what it was like to be a child? You had the freedom to play, to explore, to just BE. On a summer’s day or on the weekend, you could play for hours with your friends. The day would go on like it would never end. As a child, your imagination ran wild and you used your imagination to dream. You enacted the scenes that you saw in your imagination. You could play “make believe,” where you were your favourite superhero, singer, sports figure or whoever you imagined yourself to be. Remember what fun and joy that was! Your dreams felt limitless.

As adults we often forget the joy that comes with letting our imaginations run wild. After all, it is our imaginations that help to fuel our dreams. It is our imaginations that conjure up the possibilities that can occur in our lives. Every invention that has ever existed was once in someone’s imagination. It was a dream that hadn’t manifested yet. Once the imagination was activated and the dream took hold, the person did the work required to bring that dream to fruition. Indeed, humankind has been propelled forward by both biology and the power of imagination. How else would we have been able to explore the depths of the ocean, the vastness of space or the intricacies that make up the human brain without the power of imagination?

What about you? Do you let your imagination run wild with the possibilities that can occur in your life? Or do you shut down the minute you start to think of something new that you want to bring forth into your life? Do your dreams that have yet to manifest, fill you with excitement every day? Or do you think of every conceivable way that your dreams can’t happen? Some of us become so conditioned by society to conform that we reign in our imaginations and therefore limit our capacity to dream. Take heart, we can never lose our ability to use our imaginations. The ability to imagine and dream are spiritual gifts that we can never lose and we can always increase our ability to use them anytime we choose.

Visionaries are people who understand the power of the imagination while doing the required work to bring their visions to reality. Imagining that your dreams are even possible is an important initial step in manifesting your dreams. I encourage you to dedicate some time daily to using your imagination to power your dreams. As a visionary, you know that just thinking about your dreams is not enough and that success involves taking committed action. Always remember that along with Divine Guidance and your commitment to take action, your imagination is always there to help propel your life to new heights.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (September 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Communicate Your Message

Creating a life that you love requires that you step into your authentic power as a leader. As a visionary leader, the ability to communicate effectively in front of audience will help to get your transformational message out into the world. When you make the decision to invest in yourself, it will pay more dividends that you could ever imagine. Learning how to speak effectively in public is a skill that is essential to your success.

Being able to speak effectively in front of an audience ensures that you can capitalize on opportunities. If you have not been taking your speaking development seriously, now is the time to start doing so. The first place to start is to do an assessment of your communication skills, in terms of your strengths and challenges. Every time you deliver a presentation you need to capitalize on your strengths. One of the most effective ways that you can get a sense of what your strengths are is to compile data through feedback and by recording yourself on video to determine how you present.

On the opposite side of knowing your strengths, you also need to examine your communication challenges. Feedback from people that you know and trust can help you in identifying your strengths and the areas that you need to improve. Once you identify the areas that you need to work on, obtaining a mentor or a coach can help you improve your communication skills. Also investing in a program like Toastmasters, a self-directed communication and leadership training program can help.

If you want to learn to speak effectively in front of a group, learning the fundamentals of public speaking is important. Some of the fundamentals include: knowing your speech purpose, knowing your audience, learning to develop great content, using your nonverbal language effectively and being conscious of your language usage. When you know the purpose of your speech you are able to connect with an audience. Doing demographic research helps you to identify who your audience members are and craft your presentation to meet their needs. When you learn to develop great content, you can connect with your audience with storytelling techniques and relevant research. When you organize your speech effectively you take your audience on a journey. Learning to use your nonverbal communication like body language, gestures and facial expressions effectively all play a role in connecting with your audience. In terms of your language usage, use powerful words as they do influence the audience’s perception of you.

As a visionary leader, you have gifts, talents and skills that the world needs. Learning to become a powerful speaker can help you to get your life changing message out into the world to help transform lives!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (August 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Be Audacious!

Say it out loud the word audacity! It feels good, doesn’t it? The general definition of audacity is boldness. I would say that is it boldness taken up a notch. Are you an audacious person? Do you have the audacity to be seen, to be heard, for who you truly are? Can you own your brilliance? In other words, can you embody that boldness that is required to start a business? Or be vulnerable? Or to step outside of your comfort zone to speak in front of an audience to demonstrate your talents and expertise.

People are scared of stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying something new. They are fearful of being ridiculed or of being judged. Public speaking and communicating effectively are essential skills you will need to learn in order to get your message out into the world. If you don’t learn to be audacious, you’ll miss out on many of life’s opportunities.

In life, I believe in being respectful and treating people with dignity. Sometimes in life though being a little edgy in a good way can help you move towards your goals. If the circumstances in your life have prevented you from pursuing your goals or you feel stuck perhaps it is time to bring boldness or audacity back into your life. Many of us are people pleasers who look to others to approve of the choices and the decisions that we make in our lives. If you want to live a life that you truly love realize that it is only you who needs to approve of the decisions and the choices in your life. We conform by seeking approval because we want to be accepted. Learn to accept and approve of yourself. You don’t need anyone to determine your worth. You were made by the Divine. Breaking the bonds of conformity and being truly who you are requires audacity. You are being audacious when you stand in your authentic truth.

Be audacious and commit to owning your power. Owning your power means taking the full responsibility for the choices and results in your life. Conformity is not your friend. When you listen to Divine Guidance you will know what steps to take to make the life of your dreams come true. Listening to Divine Guidance will allow you to be that audacious person who stands fully in your power. When you are audacious enough to fully own your power, you know that you have the power of choice to make your goals and dreams come true. Know that you are worthy to pursue your dreams. In other words, it’s time to start owning your brilliance and the value that you bring to the world. Be audacious and let the love and gifts you bring to the world shine in all their glory!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (July 2016 issue)

Phenomenal Insights from Author, Speaker and Success Coach Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard is a # 1 New York Times bestselling author, speaker and success coach. He has a huge online following and is considered to be the modern day Tony Robbins. He has written several books and my favourite is the Motivation Manifesto. When he was in Toronto recently at a conference, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak and met him at his book signing.

I enjoy attending conferences and workshops and have heard many of the “heavy hitters” in the personal development area speak at events. Burchard was one of the most outstanding speakers I’ve ever heard. He had the perfect mix of substantive content, conveyed his message effectively, had good audience interaction, had great use of humour and his delivery was excellent. He received a well-deserved standing ovation that lasted several minutes. His speech really impacted me and made me re-evaluate some things in my life. Here are some of the highlights from Brendon Burchard’s presentation. In no particular order, the key learnings were:

I must raise my standards and my ambitions and refuse to settle. How many of you have settled at some point in your life with the status quo? Raising your standards and ambition can help you to start making breakthrough towards your goals. Of course, action is always key.
I must no longer fear rejection. Get over the fear of rejection. Rejection is going to happen. There will always be people who love and support you. Just as there will be always be people who reject and criticize you. You cannot let rejection and criticism prevent you from fulfilling your mission in life. As Burchard, says, “Find something to fight for or love.” That will help you counteract rejection.
I must face my fear and jump in. As you try more things and get better at them you will learn and gain more confidence. Life is an adventure. Learn to develop confidence and a healthy self-esteem so as not to take rejection personally. Engage, have fun and live!
I must refocus and get more committed. As Burchard says, “Believe in your ability to figure it out.” In order to reach success we need to have new conditioning. New conditioning means raising your ambitions and vision. According to Burchard, our vision of what we can achieve can be caged by the past and our upbringings. We need to learn to set new ambitions and a new vision for ourselves. Some of us were born into communities were most people don’t aspire to wealth because they don’t believe that they can achieve it. Don’t let that happen to you! Refocus and recommit to your dreams.
I must live each day with purpose. Need I say more? Live each day with intention and purpose. Don’t just go through the motions. Achieve your highest priorities each day.
• The difference between unsuccessful and successful people is…drumroll please. According to Burchard, unsuccessful people say, I don’t know how to do something and leave it at that. Successful people make the time to find out how to do something. Successful people schedule it and put it on their agenda.
Learn to have ambition and expectancy. Expect that you can make your success happen. Even if you don’t have everything figured out,“Bumble Into the Future.” To be successful, you have to be hungry for the success. Stop fearing your ambition. Expect that you can make it happen now. Don’t wait for years to make it happen. As Burchard says, “The piano of purpose will not fall on your head.”
We all get a second chance to live the life that we want. In other words, Who am I going to be? Answer that question truthfully and it will help you to move towards the vision of the life you want.
Figure out what questions I will ask at the end of my life. Once you figure them out start living the answers to them now!
We are creative beings. Find a way to generate the happiness you seek and live into the intention of it. In other words, don’t wait until the future to be happy based on some event. Start generating your happiness now doing things you love and helping people.

There were many excellent takeaways from Brendon Burchard and I feel blessed to have met him. Some of his key learnings helped me to refocus my mindset. Pick up your copy of the Motivation Manifesto or the Millionaire Messenger today!

Appointed as an eWomen Network Ambassador

I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed to the leadership team as an eWomen Network Ambassador for the Toronto Chapter. I will be working with a talented leadership team to support women entrepreneurs and corporate professionals in the Greater Toronto Area. The eWomen Network is one of North America’s premier women’s business and professional organizations.

If you are an entrepreneur (or corporate professional) who is looking for opportunities to grow your business and network, look no further than the eWomen Network. The eWomen Network has many benefits that can support you as you grow your business. The organization consists of women who support each other while growing their businesses and giving back to the community. If you are interested in joining the eWomen Network, please contact me for further information at deborah@deborahangelaustin.com

Interviewed on The Brave Entrepreneur Podcast

My interview with branding expert Jena Rodriguez is now live on itunes. Jena Rodriguez is a brand strategist, national speaker, author, and founder of Brand With Jena based out of Texas. She interviewed me for her podcast: The Brave Entrepreneur where she discusses how entrepreneurs can be brave in both business and in life.

In the interview, we discussed how people can step into their authentic power as entrepreneurs and professionals. I discuss tips to be an effective speaker and why you should no longer put your dreams on hold. The time to start working on your dreams and goals is now! It was an honour to be interviewed.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:
The Brave Entrepreneur Interview

Lessons Learned from Billionaire Businessman and Philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin at The Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto. He was speaking there as part of an investor speaker series and there were approximately 250 people in attendance. In the lecture, he outlined some of his investing and life principles. Afterwards, I attended a reception, where I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Lee-Chin.

It was truly an honour to meet him. In life, I believe, that you can learn from anyone regardless of status. When you have the opportunity though to learn from people like Michael Lee-Chin who have achieved extraordinary success in life be it with their families, in their business and in the philanthropy/contribution area, it is important to take special heed. This blog article contains my musings on my encounter with one of Jamaica's and Canada's most successful businessmen and philanthropists. If you are interested in learning more about Michael Lee-Chin’s career and philanthropy, there are numerous articles that describe his rise to fame and fortune.

From the lecture and my conversation with Michael Lee-Chin, I took away many lessons that will inspire me for a lifetime. One of the main lessons that was reinforced was that anyone can have a successful life, if they are willing to do the required work AND implement proven success strategies. If you examine the lives of successful people you will see commonalities. Success, as businessman and motivational guru Tony Robbins likes to say leaves clues.

Early in his business career as a young man, Michael Lee-Chin visited families in order to sell investments. One of the primary questions he would ask is, how can I make this family wealthy? In other words, how I can create value for this family? This is a question worth asking on a daily basis. How can you create value for people on a regular basis? As an employee, how can you contribute to your employer on a daily basis? As an entrepreneur, how are you helping your clients solve problems so that they can attract clients and new opportunities as well as save money? As a speaker, how are you ensuring that your message resonates with your audience? As a family member, how are you contributing value in terms of your love and time to the development of your family? Your answer to this question which is about contribution and the actions that you take can be a determinant for your success in life.

We all know that there are proven and timeless principles and formulas that will help us live successful lives. While there are various formulas and principles that outline how to become successful, find the strategies that work for you. Michael Lee-Chin in his lecture outlined some of his principles for building wealth.

When he was a young man starting out in the business world, Michael Lee- Chin also studied the wealthiest people in the world. He discovered five main principles that wealthy people around the world have used to build their wealth overtime. While I'm not an investment advisor, here are the principles with my personal perspective on them. They are:

1.Buy a few high quality businesses.
People who have accumulated great wealth overtime have usually concentrated on buying or investing in a few high quality businesses. In other words, they are focused investors in terms of the type, quality and the number of businesses that they have. If you apply this principle even further to the personal level consider this. Do you invest your time in many different things that don’t yield great results? Or are you using your energy and time in a few high quality things that help you achieve optimum results to reach your goals.

2. Once you own these high quality businesses (i.e. investments) understand these businesses thoroughly.
Once you buy high quality businesses become the expert on those businesses. In other words, know them inside and out. Applying this to the personal level, regardless of how small the amounts are, do you know all the intricate details about your investments. Do you know how they are performing on a consistent basis? If you don’t know the specifics about your investments, make it a priority now. While your investment advisor may be competent, you are the one who has the greatest stake in your future so ensure you understand your investments thoroughly.

3. Invest in businesses that have strong, long term growth.
When it comes to your investments, are they performing consistently and growing in the long term? That is one of the key to success. Even though there may periods when your investments have lower returns monitor them consistently to ensure that they overall have strong, long term growth.

4. Use other people’s money prudently.
Using other people’s money prudently means, how can you learn to borrow and invest intelligently to purchase businesses or investments in order to build your wealth. As we all know, this is easier said than done. If you are able to invest with other people’s money to build your wealth ensure that have you done your due diligence on all accounts.

5. Hold on to your businesses (i.e. investments) for the long term.
Unless you win it, marry it or inherit it, building wealth is a process that takes time. So many people want quick returns on their investments. The key to building wealth is to develop your long term strategy rather than focus on short term gains. Part of that strategy means holding on to your high performing investments for the long term.

While these are the five main principles that I learned about building wealth while listening to Michael Lee-Chin’s speech, there is so much more information that I could add. I’ll save that information for another article. The lessons learned from meeting Michael Lee-Chin will inspire me for a lifetime.

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking Article

I love to write. Throughout my life, in some capacity I've always engaged in creative writing. When I was in university, I wrote for the student newspaper, The Varsity and was an editorial assistant and intern at The Toronto Star. My career in public service took me away somewhat from my creative pursuits and now I've come back full circle. 

I've been accepted as a writer for Sibyl magazine for 2016. Sibyl: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman is an online international spirituality magazine. Every month between January – December 2016, I will write an article for the magazine. The theme that I chose for the year is: The Art of Empowerment. Also, from time to time, I will write articles for a Toronto based online news site called Good News. In contrast to mainstream media stories that tend to highlight negative news, Good News chronicles only good news stories. 

Below is my first article for Good News called: Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking. Enjoy!

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

Book Recommendation – Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Do you know how to fascinate? In other words, do you know how to be captivating so that people take notice and pay attention to your message? In Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, author Sally Hogshead outlines the elements that you need to become more fascinating. The book is based on research from leading experts as well as the results of a national marketing study. In this study over 1,000 people of various backgrounds were surveyed in depth on fascination. The book is divided into three parts. The first part of the book discusses why the ability to fascinate people is so important and some strategies you can use to make your message compelling enough to fascinate.

The second part of the book discusses what are some of the triggers that you can use to get people interested in your message. The seven triggers that Hogshead discusses are: mystique, lust, alarm, prestige, power, vice and trust. For each of the triggers she gives an analysis of how the trigger works and how it can be used to make your message stand out. For the third part of the book, Hogshead helps you to develop your action plan to make your messages more fascinating.

A recommended read for people interested in developing compelling marketing messages and becoming more fascinating.

Featured Business Tool – Trello

There are several project management tools that are on the market right now. One of the most popular is Trello.  As a project management tool app, Trello is one of the most intuitive and user friendly tools. I've used the tool to keep track of projects as well as projects where I've collaborated with other people. It has features where you can upload documents, track activity and add other elements that you need for your projects. Trello has both a free and paid business version depending on your requirements. For more information visit www.trello.com

Three Tips to Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet!

Will this be the year that you finally accomplish your goals and dreams?

I'm sure that many of you plan for the new year by doing some type of visioning, goal setting or planning work. You intuitively know that you don't need the beginning of a new year to transform your life. You can make changes now or at any time of the year. One of the great things about being human is the power of choice. You can choose when and how to affect change in your life. Here are three tips that will contribute to helping you have an outstanding year in 2016.

1. Take Massive Action
Business leader and motivational guru, Tony Robbins often says that if you want to change your life take massive action in the specific area that you want to change. Stand your ground this year and don't fall prey to procrastination, excusitis and a myriad of other things that will stall or prevent you from accomplishing your goals. Taking massive action means that you take specific, measurable action steps that will help you to achieve your goals. Then rinse and repeat. Do these action steps continuously until you achieve your goals.

The Pareto Principle also known as the 80/20 rule is a well known principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who developed the concept. The principle states that 80 percent of the effects (your success) will come from 20 percent of the causes (your actions). What this means for you when you take massive action is to focus on the most leveraged activities in your life. Focus on the 20 percent of your activities that will yield the highest results (the 80 percent) for you. Let this be the year of massive action where you soar.

2. The Pursuit of Excellence
You have many talents and abilities, some of which you undoubtedly have not fully tapped into during your life thus far. There may come a time when you examine your life and feel that you've been performing below your potential. It is too easy to accept the status quo and let mediocrity slowly creep into our lives.

The way that we crush mediocrity is by not tolerating it. The key is to pursue excellence. For 2016 continue to cultivate or learn to develop the habits of a person who pursues excellence in all that you do. Be around people who exhibit the character, habits and behaviour in the areas that you want to improve or enhance.

3. The Energy of Gratitude
I'm a member of the gratitude tribe and I'm know you are as well. I believe in giving thanks and counting blessings. It's very easy to get complacent when things are going well. When food is on the table, a shelter is over your head and the bills are paid, who would complain? In the fast pace of life sometimes, it is easy to forget how truly blessed we are. When you have good health, family, work and creature comforts, these are things that shouldn't be taken for granted.

For 2016, increasing your gratitude level will translate into benefits that can improve your quality of life. Who doesn't want more peace and contentment in their life? Gratitude for what you do have is one way to achieve that. Is there a note of thanks or appreciation that you have been putting off. Why not write it now. Are there people in your life that you have been meaning to tell how much you care about them. I encourage you to seize the moment and do it as soon as you can. I recently received a card that had lovely words of appreciation on it. It was very meaningful to me and I will cherish it.

The start of a new year always brings with it renewed hope and optimism. I hope that this year for you will be a year of: massive action to reach your goals, a year of excellence and continued blessings. Thank you for your support and being a part of my community. I look forward to hearing about your achievements in 2016.

I wish you a happy, successful and prosperous new year!

Five Tips for Effective Networking

Do you know how to network effectively? If yes, bravo for you. If not, don't be discouraged as this is a skill that can be learned. The reality is if you are an entrepreneur, professional or anyone really who is looking for clients, new business contacts and opportunities, you have to “put yourself out there.” There meaning different types of business and professional events. Regardless of what type of business you have or are in, you are in the sales and marketing business. Networking can play a role when it comes to promoting and making sales for your business.

Networking to me is about building a relationship with someone to see how you can mutually help or benefit each other. It is not a one way dialogue, there is reciprocity involved. Here are five networking tips that I've learned through my entrepreneurial journey. They are:

1. Effective Networking is About Reciprocity
When you first meet someone at an event rather than going straight into a promotional spiel about your program, product and service, think reciprocity. How can you mutually benefit from knowing each other? Is there a resource, book, website or referral that you can recommend or make to the other person. Once you nurture that relationship, then it is possible that the person you met at the event could become your client, business associate or even over the long term friend.

2. Tools of the Trade
If you are going to an event, ensure that you have the tools that you need so that people can contact you. These tools are at a minimum your business card and perhaps a promotional brochure. Even if you don't have a website, it is fine to have cards printed with just your name, your title, your phone number and email address. Also make sure that your business cards present the type of image you want to convey. They don't have to be fancy, just professional. I have been handed business cards that had liquid paper on them, with the phone number whited out and a new number written on top. This does not leave a professional image in your potential business associate's or client's mind. A professional business card is an essential tool.

3. Be a Good Listener
I've been told that I deliver excellent feedback. The feedback could be for colleagues at work, for my coaching clients or for colleagues in my volunteer work. One of the reasons that I am able to deliver excellent feedback is because I am a good listener. When you are at a networking event use your listening skills to the full capacity. Be genuinely interested in the person you are speaking with at the event. Ask questions in a non-intrusive manner. For example, what is their professional background? Why did they start their business? How does their product or service help or benefit people? Truly listen to what the other person has to say.

4. Use Positive, Rapport Building Nonverbal Communication
When you meet a person at an event, make sure that you use positive, rapport building non-verbal communication. What does that mean? For example, when you first meet someone when you greet them make sure that you smile, look at the person directly, deliver a firm handshake and say your full name. Before you describe what you do, let the other person introduce themselves. In general, remember to smile, have good eye contact, nod from time to time (so that the person knows that you are listening) and have relaxed body language. You want your body language to convey that you are confident and attentive to the other person.

5. Go to the Event Early.
Even though it may be fashionable to arrive late, when you attend networking events, arrive early. When you go to networking events you can make some of your best connections early on at the event. Also at the earlier stage of the event, it is not as noisy as there are less people so you can have longer conversations.

BONUS TIP

Follow Up
When you meet someone new at an event that you are interested in keeping in contact with, follow up. Whether it is for a potential client, business associate or potential friend, make contact with the person as soon as you can. In an ideal world, follow up should happen the next day. Sometimes though that is not possible, try to make contact as soon as you can. You can send an email or call to follow-up on the interaction that you had at the event where you met.

For the more introverted among us, while networking is not the easiest skill to master, it can be learned. Networking effectively can help you promote your business, makes sales and gain new clients. Happy Networking!

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Join Associations Like eWomen Network

When you are embarking on a new endeavour in life, it makes sense for you to join groups, associations and organizations to learn from people who are further along the path in terms of where you ultimately want to be. In my life, I’ve been blessed to have mentors who have shared their time, wisdom and experience with me to help me grow in different areas. In turn, I’ve mentored and coached people along their life’s journey in specific areas.

I recently joined the eWomen Network (Toronto Chapter) an organization that supports women entrepreneurs through events, networking, and other resources. The eWomen Network was started by Sandra and Kym Yancey over 15 years ago and has chapters across North America. Each chapter is unique and the members come together to network, learn, support and make business connections with each other.

I’m inspired by the members that I’ve met at the Toronto Chapter who have encouraged me. Thank you especially to Daniela, the Managing Director of the eWomen Network (Toronto Chapter) who is inspirational, has encouraged me with words of wisdom and has been supportive as I move forward along the path of my entrepreneurial journey.

If you are interested in learning more about the eWomen Network please feel free to email me at deborah@deborahangelaustin.com.

Use Your Visual Aids to Enhance Your Message

Imagine a magician who has various props that he will be performing with on stage. In order to use the props effectively, he would have practiced with them well in advance of his show. The seamless use of props will enable the magician to connect with his audience and deliver an amazing performance. When audience members see the magician use his props effortlessly, they are entertained and believe he is a professional.

If you want to perform or speak successfully in public, think about the ways in which you use your visual aids to enhance your message. When you rehearse in advance with your visual aids, your performance is more polished.

Visual aids can include props you use to tell stories, flip charts for training or other tools such as PowerPoint presentations where you use a laptop, a projector and a screen. The purpose of visual aids is to assist you in getting your message across when you speak before an audience.

Here are five tips to help you use your visual aids effectively. They are:

1.Know your material well. As a speaker, know your material well enough that you are able to present with AND without any visual aids or technology. The reason being that in the event that your visual aids don’t work or go missing you can still deliver your presentation. As we all know, technology is not infallible and you don't want to be overly reliant on your visual aids. Being a professional means that you are able to present even if your technology fails at any point during your presentation.

2.Practice with your equipment and visual aids. Practice well in advance with your equipment and visual aids before delivering any presentation, especially with PowerPoint. Practicing includes rehearsing and testing your laptop, projector and wireless presentation device i.e. clicker before delivering your speech.

3. Arrive early at the venue. Arriving well in advance before you deliver your presentation ensures that you have adequate leeway to troubleshoot any issues that arise. Arriving early allows you to relax before your presentation, test your equipment, and greet members of your audience.

4.Look at your audience when presenting. When you are using a PowerPoint presentation, ensure that you are not reading directly off your slides with your back to the audience. Angle yourself so that you can read/reference your slides while still looking at your audience to maintain the rapport and connection.

5.Use large letters, print neatly and use dark markers on flip charts. Even though PowerPoint has become the de facto presentation software in use (Mac users use Keynote), there are still speakers / trainers who enjoy using flip charts. Flip charts would typically be used in smaller rooms and can be used for various purposes, mainly for recording the audience’s perspective or for group exercises. When using flips charts, write legibly and neatly in large print. Also use black as the base colour with red or blue markers as accent colours so that people at the back of the room can see the writing on the flip chart.

In the end analysis, visual aids should be used as a way to enhance your message and not detract from it. You don’t want them to act as a barrier between you and your audience. Your visual aids or any technology for that matter should not overshadow you as the speaker. When used effectively in your speeches and presentations, visual aids can help you to deliver a professional and polished performance.

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5 Ways to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

This weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Our blessings include: love, our health, family, friends, food, water, shelter and so many things to be grateful for, the list could go on and on.

We all know that giving thanks should be a practice that we cultivate on a regular basis rather than once per year. We should never take those blessings in our lives for granted. An attitude of gratitude can go a long way in helping us to appreciate our lives. Here are five ways that can help us learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. They are:

1.Spiritual Practice. Developing a spiritual practice can help you to connect with God or your version of a higher power which will help you to appreciate the blessings in your life. For example, this practice could involve prayer, meditation and spending time in nature.

2.Thank People. Thank the people in your life who have had a positive impact on you. You could do this in person or write them a letter telling them how much you appreciate them in your life.

3. Gratitude Journal. Start keeping a gratitude journal. Write down every day (or as many times as you can) the good things that are in or that are happening in your life. Documenting your life experiences will help you to develop your gratitude muscle even when life is challenging or difficult.

4. Reach Out. If you are having a difficult time in life, reach out to someone who can help you. People want to help and be of service. You don’t have to go through things on you own! Even if you are having a challenging time in life, there is always someone else who is worse off or having a much more difficult time than you. Volunteering or helping someone less fortune is another way that we can exercise the gratitude muscle.

5. Appreciate Life. Give thanks for the gift of life and the breathe that animates our bodies. Each day, even with life’s ups and downs is another day to love, learn and explore!

You Are the Artist of Your Life: Part 3

Previously, I explored the concept of the Life as Art Metaphor indicating that it reveals certain maxims or truths about life. The first two maxims are:

1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.

2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.

Today, let's explore the third and last maxim. The third maxim is that artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

Artists usually have a muse that serves as inspiration for their work. Sometimes the flow of creativity is constant and sometimes there is a block that the artist must break through. Some artists can bring their artistic vision to life on their first attempt. For many artists though it takes several attempts to bring their vision to life. For example, think of writers, many times after a first draft they revise it substantially or dispense with it altogether and begin again.

As the artists of our lives, we should know that we do have the choice to begin again. Few things in life barring death (and some other things) are truly irrevocable. How many times have we made choices and decisions assuming that we have to stick with them because that is what is expected. Now I'm not saying to abdicate any moral and legal obligations to your critical responsibilities. What I am suggesting is that we are free to create new things in our lives at any time we choose as long as we are not infringing on another person's rights. For this year, make a commitment to yourself that you are free to create the life that you desire. Realize also that with the power to create also lies responsibility for the consequences of what you create.

I refer again to the great Michelangelo. There is a story about how Michelangelo created the David statue. It's impossible to know what really happened as none of us was there. I like to envision that the story went something like this. One of his contemporaries asked him, how he managed to sculpt the perfect David. The David being one of the most beautiful statues at the time. According to Michelangelo making the statue was “easy” because the David i.e the statue was already inside the marble. All Michelangelo had to do was remove the superfluous (unnecessary) parts from the marble and reveal the statue within.

As human beings, we do have the power to create happiness and joy, even bliss in our lives. We don't have to put up with things that are not for our highest good. These things might be a bad relationship, work that is no longer suited to our personalities or a one-sided friendship where you give and the other person takes all the time, in other words there is no reciprocity. I'm not saying that creating the life of your dreams will be easy and magically appear. Life does come with its challenges and inevitable ups and downs. I am encouraging you to have a magnificent VISION for your life. One where you are actively focusing on and pursuing those priorities that you love and that have meaning for you.

If you are not responsible for your art i.e your life, then I ask you who is? If you aren’t painting on the canvas of your life, I assure you that someone else is. Do you like what they have created for you? You are free to create a new life at any moment and I encourage you to create or recreate the life of your dreams. Make your life your artistic masterpiece!

You Are the Artist of Your Life

You Are the Artist of Your Life: Part 2

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The Fundamentals of Public Speaking

Learning the fundamentals of public speaking can help you to become a more effective speaker and overall communicator. While the fundamentals can be grouped or categorized in different ways, this is how I describe the fundamentals of public speaking. They are:

1. Know the purpose of your speech. Knowing the purpose of your speech helps you to communicate clearly the message that you want to convey to your audience. Think about whether your purpose is to persuade, inform, inspire, motivate, or entertain.

2. Know your audience. Identify who your audience members are. Develop your presentation to meet their requirements and needs.

3.Develop great content. How do you develop great content? Developing great content means knowing your audience well and using stories and anecdotes to engage them. It also means doing the required research for the main points of your presentation and using supporting material.

4.Have great speech organization. Having great content alone in a presentation is not sufficient. Learning how to organize that content effectively is a fundamental. Learning effective speech structure ensures that you have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion for your presentation. The beginning of the presentation should attract the audience's attention, the body supports your main points and the conclusion summarizes your main points.

5. Be conscious of your language usage. Use powerful words when you write your presentation. Use clear and descriptive words that will communicate your message.

6.Use your voice for maximum impact. Your voice is like an instrument that you use to communicate. When delivering a presentation remember to use vocal variety and be aware of your volume, pitch, and rate of speaking. A key skill is learning how to use pauses for maximum impact.

7. Use your body language and gestures effectively. Your body is the vehicle through which you communicate. Make sure that your nonverbal language accurately matches your message.

8. Use the stage platform to your advantage. Be consciously aware of how you use your speaking area or “stage platform.” The platform could be an actual stage, a podium in front of a meeting room, or a conference table for an interview. Utilize your stage platform to your advantage.

9. Use your facial expressions and eye contact effectively. When delivering a presentation, your face conveys your emotions. Make sure that your facial expressions are in alignment with the message that you are communicating. Remember that smiling and effective eye contact are critical when building rapport with an audience.

10. Know how to use your visual aids. Visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations are tools that help you communicate or emphasize your message. Practice with them ahead of time to ensure that you are using them effectively.

11. Know Your Strengths. Do an assessment of your strengths and use them consistently in your presentations. One of the best ways to determine your strengths is to obtain feedback on your presentation skills from people you know and trust. Another way to determine your strengths (and areas of improvement) is to record yourself on video so that you can see how you present. Be confident in yourself!

12. Authenticity. When delivering a speech or another type of presentation be yourself. Whether it be a personal or professional endeavour, be authentic. Being authentic means doing the required work so that you can use your gifts, talents, skills, and strengths to deliver the best possible speech or presentation that you can deliver.

By knowing the fundamentals of public speaking, you will set yourself up for success in your speeches and presentations. Below are previous posts on related topics. If you received value from this post, please comment and share.

Be Yourself
The Audacity To Be Seen and Heard

Speech Purpose
Know Your Speech Purpose

Speech Organization
Take Your Audience on a Journey

Language Usage
Use Powerful and Affirming Words

Use Nonverbal Communication Effectively
Nonverbal Communication

Thank You Dr. Wayne Dyer

This past weekend, the world lost a beautiful human being, Dr. Wayne Dyer. He inspired millions across the world through his love of humanity, his compassion, spiritual insights, his lectures and books. I was personally inspired by Dr. Dyer and read many of his books. My favourite book is The Power of Intention.

I had the honour of meeting him a few years ago at a conference in Toronto. I spoke to him briefly saying I was so inspired by his work and could I please take a picture with him. He graciously agreed and said that I was beautiful. It was one of the highlights of my life, the opportunity to meet Dr. Dyer, someone whose work had such a profound effect on my life.

Condolences and blessings to his family and friends. Thank you Dr. Dyer for inspiring me. Your love and light will live on!

Commit to Continuous Learning

The life as art metaphor, I believe is a powerful, guiding metaphor because it reveals certain truths or maxims about the human condition that we can apply to our own lives. Some of those maxims are:

1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.
2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.
3. Artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

In a previous post, I examined the first maxim that says that artists take responsibility for creating their art. You Are The Artist of Your Life

Now let's look at the second one that says artists are on a quest to continually perfect or improve their art. If you know any artists they always seem to be engaged in some type of learning or continuing education. If they paint, they are trying to figure out how to utilize new colour schemes or brush strokes in their paintings. If they are actors, they are taking classes or workshops to improve their craft.

As the artist of your life, are you open minded and engaged in continuous learning? It is said that the great Italian renaissance artist Michelangelo once wrote in the corner of one of his sketch books the words Ancora Imparo which loosely translated from Italian means I am still learning or still I learn.

When I read this about Michelangelo, it inspired me. I mean this was after all, The Michelangelo, the master artist who chiseled the perfect life-like statute of David and who spent years laying in awkward positions to paint a masterpiece with scenes from Genesis on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. I was moved because a master artist was willing to adopt the perspective of a student or a novice, even after all his achievements.

By committing to continuous learning, you will be surprised at how rich your life will become. What are you going to learn this year so you can improve the quality of your life. Perhaps you always wanted to learn a new language or play an instrument. Will this be the year that you finally sign up for French classes or learn to play the piano or learn that which your heart truly desires.

This year if you adopt the Doctrine of Ancaro Imparo and commit to learning something new, you'll be surprised at how much of a difference it will make to your quality of life. After all, you are an artist and learning to perfect your art is a required skill.

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You Are the Artist of Your Life

Thinking of life as art, I believe serves as a powerful guiding metaphor for us as we lead our lives. As the artists, i.e. the creators of our lives, we realize certain maxims or truths. I believe that some of those maxims are:

1. Artists take responsibility for creating their art.

2. Artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art.

3. Artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

Each of our lives is overflowing with potential and possibilities. Let’s see how we can use that metaphor of life as art to create the best possible life that we are capable of creating. Looking at the first maxim that artists take responsibility for creating their art, simply means that the power to create lies with the artist and their vision. In other words, each of us is ultimately accountable and responsible for our lives. On an intellectual and intuitive level, we know that this is true. Yet at times, we tend to forget or blatantly disregard that the power to create the best life possible resides within us.

We blame external circumstances, our upbringing, other people and our past conditioning to abdicate taking responsibility for how our lives have turned out so far. Real maturity in life means accepting the fact that if we want to have or continue to have a great life, it starts with having a vision and a purpose. If you can consciously be accountable for your choices and actions, you will see a change in your attitude. You realize that you are responsible for your own happiness or…. the way that you react to your own challenges in life.

Now I'm not totally naïve and I’m not saying that life is not very challenging or difficult at times. Bad things do happen to good people and each of us have had our share of loss and heartbreak to contend with in life. And sometimes through no fault of our own, we are forced to deal with the bad choices and actions of other individuals that have long lasting repercussions on our lives. What I am saying is that if we ever hope to create or continue to create the type of life that our heart truly desires, a life that is meaningful, the difference is the accountability factor. Be a true artist and take responsibility for the art i.e your life that you create.

If future posts, I look forward to discussing the two other maxims that artists are on a quest to continually perfect their art and artists know that they are always free to create again in the moment.

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Know Your Speech Purpose

The basis of any great speech or presentation is your content. In order to structure your content effectively for maximum impact, you need to know the main purpose of your speech. Is your purpose to persuade? Is your purpose to inform? Is your purpose to inspire? Is your purpose to motivate? Or is your purpose to entertain? Your purpose will be your guiding principle throughout your speech. Although during your speech you may be doing several things such as persuading and entertaining, your speech will be more effective if you focus in on one main purpose.

In other words, what exactly do you want to communicate to your audience? Making sure that you have a clear purpose ensures that your core message (and call to action) will ultimately resonate with your audience. Again the purpose of a speech broadly speaking can be to: persuade, inform, inspire, motivate or entertain. Let's look at each of these individually.

Persuasion
If you are being persuasive, you are convincing your audience members to either adopt a position that you hold or change their minds (and hearts) to another point of view. For example, if I am environmentalist, my purpose might be to persuade my audience that global warming is real. I might demonstrate the evidence by presenting research, facts and statistics that show the increase in temperature over the last decade.

Inform
If you are informing your audience about a topic, it means that you are relaying pertinent information. For example, if you are a scientist, you may be conveying the results of your research on an experiment that you conducted. You are in a straightforward manner explaining the results of your research. Depending on the type of research that you conducted, you might also be persuading the audience to adopt your research findings. Most likely, your primary purpose would be to inform.

Inspiration
If your purpose is to inspire your audience, you are interested in helping people to see and feel that new opportunities and transformation are possible for their lives. For example, if a speaker in his seventies took up writing and was successful at it, his speech purpose could be to inspire people that you can have writing success at any age.

Motivation
If your speech purpose is to motivate your audience to action, that would mean that you are encouraging your audience members to have a transformational shift in their mindset. You are motivating them by encouraging them to inspired action for a specific reason. For example, a personal trainer who was once very overweight might deliver a speech with the purpose of motivating the audience members to get fit for health reasons.

Entertainment
If your purpose is to entertain your audience members you want them to be entertained and enjoy themselves when you deliver your speech. For example, if you were to deliver an after dinner talk your purpose would be to entertain and you would include humour because people love to laugh especially after having a good meal.

In order to define what the purpose of your speech is, being able to describe it in one sentence is ideal. Clearly defining your purpose, will help you stay focused when you write and deliver your presentations. If you are unable to clearly define your purpose, take some time and reflect on what you ideally would like to communicate to your audience and the message that you want to convey. Defining your purpose will help you to connect with your audience and ensure that your message is delivered with maximum impact!

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A Winning Attitude

As a speaker, when you have a winning attitude, it can help you to connect with your audience. Here are four components of a winning attitude that can help you to deliver a great presentation. They are:

A Winning Attitude

1. Be positive. When you're a designated speaker at a meeting or event, you are sharing your knowledge, skills and expertise with your audience. For some speakers, their thoughts are, sigh “Here we go again, ” they have a negative attitude towards public speaking and then they wonder why the audience doesn't absorb their message. When you treat speaking before an audience like a chore, it disconnects you from your audience. Being positive is one way that you can truly connect with your audience. Audience members can sense positive energy. Life is such a gift. We have so many things to be grateful for and positive about. Some of them include: our health, family, friends, spirituality and creativity to name a few. If you are having negative feelings before you present, think of the things that you are truly grateful for in life and watch that energy spill over into your public speaking. If you want to connect with your audience, be positive.

2. Be Confident. Many of us struggle with self-confidence issues due to our upbringing. If you haven't already, start valuing what you bring to the table. When you underestimate, discount or devalue your gifts, talents and abilities you do yourself a disservice. Being confident before an audience means that you believe in what you have to offer and it is of value to your audience. If you don't believe in what you have to offer, how then can your audience believe in your message, your products and your services?

3. Be Bold. Have the courage to be bold! Speaking in front of an audience is a bold move since you have the courage to “put yourself out there.” When you speak in front of a group, you are in a sense subjecting yourself to other people's judgments. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about having the audacity to be seen and heard.

http://deborahangelaustin.com/the-audacity-to-be-seen-and-heard/

People judge us based on our looks, weight, upbringing, education level, profession, and family just to name a few things! Having said that, as a speaker you can't let people's judgments stop you. In the majority of instances, your audience will be receptive to your message but sometimes some members of the audience won't be receptive. Regardless, still have the courage to soldier on and proceed with delivering your message. Your message might touch someone so deeply that it changes their life!

4. Be of Service. While it is great that you are positive, confident, and bold when you present coming from the mindset of being of service to your audience is important. Being of service means that you really want to add value to your audience members' lives through the information that you present. If you come from this mindset, it will help you to build rapport and connect with your audience. This is the most important aspect of a winning attitude because you care about the topic you are speaking about and you want your audience to benefit from the information.

As a speaker when you practice being positive, confident, bold and most importantly being of service your winning attitude will shine through to your audience.

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Use Powerful and Affirming Words

We all know that words are extremely powerful. Think about how powerful words are in your life. We know that words have the power to heal and wound. Think back to when someone said something that hurt your feelings. Chances are that even though you may have let it go, you probably do remember the words that were spoken and the hurt feelings you felt initially.

On the other hand, think about when you hear the words I love you from a loved one or when they say other empowering words, how do you feel? You feel supported and affirmed. In many cases, words can be life changing and transforming. Words can change the way that you see yourself. Even the way that you use words with your internal dialogue can boost or diminish your self confidence. Since words are so powerful, use empowering words that can uplift people's spirits. Here are three tips that can help you use words powerfully in your speeches. They are:

1. Use vivid imagery. When writing your speeches, carefully consider the language that you use in order to have maximum impact. Use words that will really paint a picture for your audience. For example, you could say, I went for a walk along the beach. Your readers will obviously get the main point of what you are trying to communicate. Or you could say something that is more descriptive, such as, I sauntered across a white sandy beach as the sun set under a crimson and orange coloured sky. Using vivid imagery and being evocative with your language in your speeches will enable you to connect with your audience more.

2. Eliminate jargon. Research your audience before you speak. Knowing who your audience members are in advance will help you to determine the type of language that you should use. For example, if you were speaking to a group of IT professionals, doctors, lawyers or accountants you might use language or jargon specific to those professions. If you are speaking to a more general audience you might want to eliminate or reduce your use of jargon.

3. Eliminate Filler Words. Filler words are words like um, uh, like, you know etc. that we use in order to take up time or we use when we don't know what to say. When we are nervous, unprepared or simply unaware the tendency is to overuse filler words. Filler words can make us seem less knowledgeable than we actually are. Recording yourself on video is a great tool in order to assess how often you use filler words. Seeing yourself on video can help you to become aware so that you can eventually eliminate those filler words.

Remember that words are powerful. They have the power to affirm another person in a positive way. On the other hand, if we don't use our words consciously, they can also be used in a negative manner. As a communicator, take the time to consciously and carefully consider your words especially when you speak in front of an audience. Using positive words can have a major impact on the way that the audience relates to you.

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Use Nonverbal Communication Effectively

As a speaker learning how to use your body language effectively will help you to connect with your audience. Body language, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact are commonly referred to as nonverbal language. Even before you open your mouth, your body language conveys how you feel. It is important that before you present, you get into as much as possible a positive frame of mind. Since our bodies are the vehicle through which we communicate and express ourselves, it should come as no surprise that our body will through our nonverbal language ‘’leak” what we feel. As much as possible, you want to convey positive emotions in order to connect with your audience.

Congruency
When it comes to body language, one of the most important aspects to remember is the notion of congruency. Congruency means that your nonverbal language matches your verbal message. If you say that you are happy to be speaking at a function, your nonverbal language should match and express that sentiment. Have a smile on your face and use your eye contact to look at audience members and build rapport with them.

Congruent body language demonstrates that you are confident in delivering your message to an audience. On the other hand, if your body language does not demonstrate congruence, the audience will not believe your message. There will be a major disconnect. One of the tips that will allow you to master confident body language is to ensure that you are prepared. Being prepared and knowing the content of your speech well in advance will help you to project confidence.

How often have you seen a speaker who says that I'm so happy to be here speaking in front of an audience yet the nonverbal language does not convey that message. For example, people who are not confident when they speak, tend to mumble, not project their voice, avoid eye contact with the audience, slouch and are generally nervous and edgy. Confident speakers on the other hand tend to speak in a clear voice, build rapport by looking and smiling at the audience and their carriage (body posture and stance) projects confidence.

Facial Expressions and Eye Contact
As a speaker, your facial expressions and eye contact help get your message across to your audience. Smiling and effective eye contact are critical when you're building rapport with audience members. It's important that you learn to “soften” your facial expressions. When we’re nervous, whether it's related to public speaking or another endeavor, the tendency is to tighten or tense our facial expressions. The facial expressions that are conveyed, therefore are not as welcoming as they could be. Learning to relax can help us with demonstrating positive facial expressions.

When delivering a presentation, focus your eye contact on specific areas of the room rather than all over the room. You don't want your eye contact to be like an oscillating fan. Be laser focused, don't sweep the room back and forth with your eye contact. The strategic way to use eye contact is the following. When you're speaking, make eye contact with a few people on each side of the room. For example, look to the left, the middle and then to the right and back again with a pointed focus. If you have the opportunity to meet some of the attendees before you begin your speech, try and make eye contact with people you know to put yourself at ease.

Open and Closed Gestures
There are many different types of gestures and broadly speaking they can fall into two main categories. They are: open or closed gestures. Make sure that when you use your gestures, they are punctuated with purpose. A certain points in your speech, using simple gestures can really help you to connect with your audience. You need to ensure that your gestures are enhancing your message and not detracting from it. Closed body gestures have the appearance of making you seem less relatable. An example of a closed gesture would be, having your arms crossed for the duration of your speech. This gesture would make you appear closed off, unapproachable and not connected to your audience. Of course this is purely perception. Open gestures on the other hand, are gestures that are more relaxed or expansive. An example, would be having your arms rest at your sides with open palms. If you want to be seen as someone who is warm, open, and relatable aiming for more expansive gestures when you speak will leave the audience with the impression that you are more approachable. In turn, using open gestures will in many instances make your audience more receptive to your message.

Learning to use your body language effectively when you speak will help you build greater rapport with your audience and deliver a successful speech.

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Are You Ready to Pay the Price for High Level Results?

When it comes to achieving success, do you truly believe that successful people are just lucky, rich, had the right breaks, are attractive, or have a great network to leverage? All of which may or may not be true. There may be a percentage of people who have achieved success the so called easy way (what way that is, I don't know).

The reality is that the majority of successful people have worked hard to attain success.  And yes, they may have leveraged their personal and professional connections, their education, financial resources and “lucky breaks” (also known as opportunities) that came along to achieve their success.  They also would have worked hard, set goals, overcome obstacles and pursued their goals with  tenacity.

Think about yourself for a moment and the skills that you've developed throughout your life.  Whether it was for a new venture,  learning a new language or instrument, or learning how to parent, wasn't there hard work involved to be successful in that specific area. There was a major commitment of time, energy and money to study, train  and gain the required experience and skills necessary to be successful. You may have “failed” or have been unsuccessful several times before mastering the skill you needed to learn. If learning the skill or achieving the goal was important enough to you, I bet you did the required work to learn the skill or achieve the goal. In other words you “paid the price.”

The truth is some people just aren't willing to do the hard work required to achieve high level results. For example, if you want to have a bikini ready body, that would mean that you would have to workout consistently (at least one hour per day, maybe more),  eat a healthy diet on a regular basis and forgo many high calorie treats. Some people are just not willing to do that type of work to obtain that type of body. Which is perfectly fine. What about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur involves long work hours, reduced family time, and unpredictable income with no guarantee of success. All of which are totally reasonable in the entrepreneur's mind (at least in the short term) because having a successful business will eventually lead to (in the future) more financial freedom, more family time and possibly living a location independent lifestyle. With up to 80 percent of small businesses failing within 18 months (according to Bloomberg), the majority of people aren't willing to do the hard work required to become a successful entrepreneur. They don't want to gamble with their time, family or financial resources, which is perfectly understandable. The rewards though for the successful entrepreneur can be substantial so the work involved to achieve that success is more than justified.

The next time you encounter successful people who you believe have obtained success (or a specific result that you want) the so called easy way or “overnight,” reflect and think about what really went into building that success. The answers you come up with will be very illuminating. As an exercise, creatively reverse engineer how the successful person achieved that high level result by working backwards. For example, if an actor you like won an Academy Award and you have acting aspirations, what are the steps that would have led him or her to that stage? If someone you know just launched a tech start-up, what are the steps required to launch a tech business? If you know someone who is an outstanding parent who has raised children who are now wonderful adults, what are some parenting strategies you could adopt that can help you with your young children.  When you do an exercise like this you soon realize that behind any successful person there are many factors that contribute to their success. It was rarely “easy.”

Success is not achieved in a vacuum. There are many factors that contribute to being successful in life. Many successful people had to study, train, gain experience and fail many times before achieving their definition of success. In fact, failing numerous times is a common trait among successful people. The difference is successful people do not allow their failures to define them or allow failures to distract them from achieving their ultimate goals and dreams. People who are successful and achieve high level results think and act differently when it comes to commitment, discipline, focus, surmounting obstacles and pursuing their goals with determination. The so called, “Overnight Success” rarely is and has worked for years (often decades) setting the foundation for the success that they end up bringing to fruition.

In a future post, I look forward  to examining  the mindset of  successful people and high achievers. I look forward to sharing tips with you on how you can learn to develop that mindset.

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7 Tips to Prepare Before You Deliver Your Speech

Before you present before an audience, there are several things that you can do to ensure that you have a successful speech  or presentation. They are:

1. Be Knowledgeable about Your Subject Matter

When you present at a meeting or before an audience that is not the time to “wing it.” Be sure that you know your content inside and out so that you can appear competent and professional.

2. Know Your  Audience

Before you present, conduct some research on your audience's demographics and their interests. If you are presenting at work that will be easier as you will know all or the majority of the people. If you are presenting before an unknown audience, attempt to do some research on the people who will be there in terms of  their gender, age, interests, professions etc. This will assist you in crafting your speech to connect with the audience.

3. Have a Good Introduction

Many speakers ignore this important step before they present. It is essential that you have your host introduce you with a proper introduction that states your credentials. It does not have to be long. There should be sufficient information presented about you so that the audience can see why you are the credible authority to speak on that particular topic.

4. Know the Image that you Want to Convey

Before you present before an audience, it's important to know the image that you want to convey. The way that you look, especially in terms of your attire can act as a detraction from your message if it disconnects you from the audience. You want to convey an image that is consistent with your personal brand and in alignment with the core message you want to communicate.

5. Make Contact with Your Host in Advance

If you have been invited to speak to staff at a company or organization, conducting research on the demographics  of your audience is a good idea.  After you receive the invitation to speak at an event, contacting your host well in advance ensures that you know the expectations for the speaking engagement. Contacting the host in advance ensures that you can communicate your needs also such as for example, your audio-visual requirements ahead of time.

6. Know Your Practical Strategies for Success

Before your presentation, know what are some of the practical strategies that you can use to ensure a successful speech. For example, for the event where you will be speaking, will you have the directions printed out in advance so that you are not late? How many days in advance will your handouts be prepared, so you are not left scrambling at the last minute. Before your speech think of and make a list of practical things that you can do to ensure success.

7. Visualize Your Success

Learning to master your content before you present in front of an audience is a major component of being an effective speaker. While knowing your content is important, visualizing your success before you speak is also important. Too many speakers  make themselves nervous by rehearsing scenarios where things don't go according to plan. Before you present, visualize yourself delivering a successful speech.  Rehearse mentally the feeling of being confident and building rapport with the audience. See and hear the audience applauding your wonderful speech. Visualizing success can help you deliver an engaging and effective speech.

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Say NO to Being a People Pleaser!

Too many of us live our lives as if they are not our own. Instead of pursuing our goals with passion and determination we stay on the sidelines of life. There are many reasons why we do this including fear, procrastination and not having specific knowledge to move forward. Sometimes, it boils down to being a “people pleaser.”

There are several reasons why we feel the need to seek the approval of others. Acceptance and approval are primal needs that go back to when we were very young. If our parents or caregivers did not fulfill their role sufficiently in terms of meeting our needs when we were young, some of us may grow up with low self esteem or a challenged self concept. This in turn may translate into the need to excessively please people in order to feel accepted or to gain approval.

If you are putting other people's needs and wants above your own and relegating your dreams and goals to the “someday” pile, I encourage you to rethink this strategy. It is good to help people whenever you can. In fact, being of service and helping people is what life is truly all about. It is our relationships and contributions in the end that really matter. If you are constantly putting other peoples needs and wants before your own this can become problematic and can lead to both stress overload and burnout.

If  we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we are more interested in having people like us than in pursuing our goals and dreams. If you continually people please by responding to other people's needs and wants before your own, you may start to feel resentful in that you are not being true to yourself. This is detrimental because your dreams can be put on the back burner. For example, instead of continuing to write your book, you are continuously at the beck and call of a friend or family member who always seems to be in some sort of financial or relationship crisis. Maybe it's time that you tell him or her that they need to seek some type of assistance from a professional who can help them with these issues instead of always  relying on you.

All of us are living on borrowed time. It therefore becomes paramount that you make your needs and desires a priority. Not next year, next month or next week. Now! Now is the perfect time to revisit some of your goals and dreams that you have been neglecting and start pursuing them with a renewed tenacity. Look at the areas in your life that are either emotionally, physically or energetically draining  you or distracting you from your goals. Develop a plan to either eliminate them or minimize them. While the word YES is a powerful word, so is the word NO. If you tend to people please learn to employ the word NO more often, when it comes to people or projects that drain your energy and have no value to you. If this is a challenge for you consider taking an assertiveness skills or negotiation skills course so that you can say no authentically and powerfully while respecting the other person.

Share your insights into what strategies you have used to overcome “people pleasing” tendencies.

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The Audacity to Be Seen and Heard!

Audacity. Say it out loud. Audacity! It feels good, doesn't it? According to www.merriam-webster.com, the definition of audacity is intrepid boldness or bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints. Now I would never advocate that someone be arrogant; however, if the circumstances are ones that have prevented you from pursuing your goals or you feel stuck in a particular situation perhaps that definition is worthy of consideration. Breaking the bonds of conformity and being truly who you are requires audacity.

Are you an audacious person? Is that you? Do you have the audacity to be seen, to be heard, for who you truly are? Can you own your brilliance? In other words, can you embody that boldness that is required to start a business? Or be vulnerable? Or to step outside of your comfort zone to speak in front of an audience to demonstrate your talents and expertise. There are studies that indicate that when it comes to public speaking, some people are more fearful to speak in public than they are of death. They are fearful of being ridiculed or of being judged.  This is unfortunate because speaking in front of a group about an important topic can be an enjoyable experience.

Speaking is the way that you express yourself, communicate and connect with others. On a one to one basis most people don't find it too difficult to express their thoughts to loved ones, friends and colleagues. Yet to speak in front of an audience can be for some people, one of the most terrifying experiences that they will encounter.

This is truly unfortunate because if you don't learn to become an effective speaker and effective overall communicator, you'll miss out on many of life's opportunities. This inability will hamper you both personally and professionally. Public speaking and communicating effectively are essential skills you need to learn in order to get your message out into the world. Commit to yourself that you will be audacious when it comes to speaking your truth. Being bold and having the audacity to be seen and heard  for who you truly are begins with knowing that you are worthy to pursue your dreams. In other words, it's time to start owning your brilliance and the value that you bring to the world.

Today, think about (and share below) one way you can be bold or audacious in taking a step towards one of your goals. Know that you have value and you are ready to be seen and heard for who you truly are…in all of your brilliance!

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Welcome to my new success blog!

Dear readers, welcome to my new success blog! I am so excited to be launching my blog and my business. As an expert, I accelerate individual and organizational effectiveness through my work as a speaker, writer, trainer, consultant and coach. Thank you for the opportunity to share my worldview and perspective on life with you. My mission is to help you accelerate your success by providing valuable information and resources through my blog and services.

Starting a blog helps me to connect with amazing people like you who are interested in accelerating their personal and professional effectiveness. My mission is about helping people like you achieve a greater impact in the world through your work! The primary ways that I fulfill that mission is through my writing, speaking, training, consulting and coaching services. Let me become your trusted advisor and accountability partner as you work on achieving your goals and bringing your dreams to reality.

As we embark on this journey together, my wish is to get to know my readers. Here’s some information about me. My background includes a degree in International Relations. My professional experience includes working in the media, IT companies and in the public sector. I’m a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), which is Toastmasters International’s highest honour for leadership and communication excellence. One of my passions is mentoring and coaching people. I’ve won awards for my public speaking ability. I know what it takes to become a high-quality communicator and leader. My mission is to help you become one also!

It’s time to achieve the success that you deserve! I know that you have a life changing message that the world needs to hear.There are too many amazing people who are languishing to get their important messages out into the world. They are unable to get their message out into the world because they lack effective communication skills and have untapped leadership potential. I'm here to help you get the results (and the transformation) that you require to get your message out so that you can impact the world with your unique gifts!

We are part of the era where people, places, ideas and movements are seamlessly connected through technology. Together, let’s start a movement of people and entrepreneurs who are committed to excellence, abhor the status quo and are determined to live the best life possible. I look forward to sharing with you valuable tips, techniques, strategies, tools and resources. The information that I will share with you can help improve your personal and professional effectiveness and grow your business.

I look forward to helping you achieve your goals and hearing about your success.Thank you for embarking on this wonderful journey with me.

Wishing you infinite success!

Deborah

Happy New Year! Welcome 2017!

As we welcome 2017, know that a new year brings with it new possibilities, energies and opportunities. Whether you had a successful or challenging 2016, know that nothing in life is stagnant and the only constant is change. Evolution is our constant companion. Therefore for 2017, build on your successes from 2016 and gain wisdom from your challenges. Learn to be the creator of your life's experiences rather than a passive spectator. Forge forward in 2017 with love, action, boldness, integrity and compassion to make your dreams a reality!

A Winning Attitude

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, prosperous and successful new year!

Blessings,

Deborah Austin