Numbers Made My Head Hurt

Once a month my husband got really grouchy. He had BPS (Bill Paying Syndrome). He would sit at the dining room table with bills and envelopes spread all around and call out to me in a voice tinged with suspicion, asking things like “What did you charge on July 16th for 1,475 dollars?” to which I would say “How would I know?” Then I’d get busy at the other end of our apartment, meeting the needs of our children until the bill paying time was finished.

One day, I decided I had enough of this type of hostile interrogation and told him bill paying was his department and never to ask me another question about a bill again. I was homeschooling our three children, math gave me a headache, and I had no time to waste on stuff that didn’t concern me. Money was not my department. Victory! That was the last of his annoying behavior.

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The Magic Question that Works Every Time

How to Find Your Core Message and Turn a Simple Story into a Spellbinding Speech!

“I need a life balance coach.” I said in jest (or so I thought) as I introduced myself on a tele-seminar I was delivering to around fifty coaches on  how to craft a keynote speech. A moment later a voice called out  “That’s me! I’m a life balance coach.” Just one voice …out of fifty people who are trained in life balance. Why did she speak up?

I found out.

When the tele-seminar ended Viki (the life balance coach) called and emailed me (She was eager –– that impressed me!) and I asked my helper to contact her and offered her a trade of an hour of me coaching her on her speech, and she, in return, was to help me “balance.”. She was so enthusiastic and who knows… maybe I could learn how to play…. or at least rest.

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How to Get More Customers than You Want

When I was young, I just hated having to do the girl thing. I imagined how I would act if I were a boy. I’d spot a girl, tell her she was beautiful, ask for her phone number, pick her up and kiss her right away. But it was the 60’s and Mom said a girl had to “play hard to get”. I hated the delays involved in this methodology although I practiced it with strict discipline. I found it effective and efficient and left a trail of tormented males wherever I went. When I became acquainted with the law of karma in the 1970’s, it did give me pause, but I was determined to win in the battle of the sexes and deal with universal forces later.

So when I went into business for myself and it dawned on me that getting customers was something I had to do- I was excited!  It was something like dating only now I would be the aggressor! I would have my chance to be a male chauvinist pig!  (I was a feminist the 80’s. That’s what we called men then…and exactly what I wanted to be now!)

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How to be a Speaker with No Speeches

Be careful what you wish for!

When I decided to become a professional speaker my plan was to fly around the country and speak about…I didn’t know…. whatever was on my mind! I told my coach about my new goal and he said “That’s a fairy tale. Lisa, when are you going to get real?” And I thought coaches were supposed to be unconditionally supportive… guess not! In his defense, he didn’t know me very well… First off, I just can’t bear being told I can’t do something. In fact, once I’m told I can’t, I must (think of the implications)! Next fairytales not being true…. he had just challenged my “paradigm” (new biz word) and I wasn’t going for a shift.

And so I flew around the country and spoke about whatever was on my mind. Truth be told, many times at 5am I arose to prepare a speech and found: nothing on my mind… but blind fear! No one booked “Blind Fear” (not a bad title) so I just had to remember what I was thinking… when I could think.

Now you might be wondering how I got booked as a speaker with no speeches?

I had great titles!

In fact when I applied to my first speaker’s bureau I supplied them with 50 titles! Yes 50! I neglected to mention I had no speeches. They asked for my titles. I wouldn’t lie…

So, an unsuspecting organization would read one of my sizzling titles and book me… and I with consummate unprofessionalism would say to myself “What does that title mean?” A popular title was the intriguing “The myth of Procrastination”. Hmmm…what was the myth?

Well, let’s see… when I lived in Italy no one procrastinated (not that anyone did much besides nap and eat). And there was no word for procrastination (that I knew of). Now, that could have been because my Italian was lacking… I pull out my “Visual Diary” paintings from my two years in Florence and do an illustrated presentation with giant blow ups of oil paintings, of me facing the elements in Italy (men, unavailability of laundry mats etc.) and learning how to ride the wave of sloth Italian style (“Sloth Italian Style!” -a potential good title) with a comic book I drew as a “handout” (a speaker “must-have”) to drive my points home (important speaker skill). And thus I taught Corporate America how the Italians get things done (no, not without delay)…but without procrastination!

And so it went. Now, you are asking… so what’s the point?

Well, since I wrote more speeches than I could count (all on in the morning of the day of the speech, none of which I could read later, since they were all hand written, as I had never learned to type) I learned to…write speeches.

My speaking career? One day lying on a plastic bench at 3am in an airport in St. Louis, shivering and hungry, with my pocketbook for a pillow, and an umbrella over my head for privacy, waiting for yet another connecting flight after my last flight didn’t connect, I said “Lisa, When are you going to get real? Why would anyone want to fly around the country and speak about whatever was on their mind?” “STAY HOME AND DO IT!”

And that’s just what I did. I stayed home warm and well fed on the phone in a comfy chair and….helped speakers write their speeches!

I learned to type (and even email). I still get to make up cool titles (for other people). And whenever I pass the airport I raise my fist (think Scarlett O’Hara with the sun blazing above Tara) and with great gusto I say “I’m not flying! I will never be homeless again!”

The lesson here?

Fairy tales do come true….but maybe not exactly as planned!

The Power of Negative Thinking!

I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life (the second half, that is)… I would be a speaker! I had heard a cassette of a motivational speaker and thought “I could do that!”. It was 10 years ago and I had a cardboard box of tapes that had once belonged to my Dad that my brother described as “Dad’s legacy’ when my father passes on. They were dirty and came from boxed sets minus boxes and many cassettes but it was cool stuff. I listened to a metaphysical speaker (previously a English businessman) share ancient Chinese prosperity secrets, a southern grandpa who learned to be successful selling cookware, tips on how to be a multi-millionaire from the 1930’s and then came the best: Les Brown. Why, he was just telling stories! That was easy. I had the sudden realization… I would join the ranks of the speaking superstars!

Hmm… how to get started?

For two years I had facilitated innumerable groups on everything I couldn’t achieve (I took the “teach what you need to learn” approach) for $5 an hour. Titles included: “Heal Your Heartbreak!”, “Empower Yourself for Success!”, “Effortless Weight Loss!”, “How to be Irresistible to the Opposite Sex!” and the like. Now the question was how was I to leap from the Women’s Center’s flowered couches and candles to the Astrodome? After a few days pondering my prospects I concluded I was too old, had too many kids, too many bills… the Old Woman in the Shoe: a motivational speaker? What would I have to say? The more I thought about it the more disheartened I became. Finally, I flopped down on my bed in mid-day in utter despair. I could hear cars whizzing by. Where was everyone going in such a hurry…except me?

The phone rang. What if it was a coaching client? No way I could answer the phone now, but then I thought-who cares? I truly am unfit to coach, so I might as well face facts now and more on to a job more suited to a person in despair (I’d go back to painting and poetry-all the artists I knew were depressed). Second ring. Then I thought what if it was a GREAT OPPORTUNITY? You never know! Anyway, I had nothing to lose.

Third ring. Reconciled to my fate (either way) I decide to answer the phone. I say the peppiest hello I can muster. The woman on the other end asks me if I am Lisa Yakobi. (I want to say “I know who I was when I got up this morning but I think I must have changed several times since then”, to quote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but refrain). The woman then goes on to ask if I was a… speaker! Totally bewildered, I respond “Yes.” She then asks me if I can present a program for the Department of Women’s Services on surviving divorce (I had taught that one over and over again trying to convince myself it was possible). I agree. She asks my fee. “Fee? Five dollars?” I hesitate contemplating the sound of that sum. She s continues, “I’m so sorry it’s not much, but would $125 be OK?” and then asks if I’d be willing to do a radio interview that would air eleven times! “Yes, that would be fine and, yes, I do have a question. How did you hear about me?” “Oh, I saw you name in the Woman’s Center brochure.”

Amazing!

Now, what to speak about?

My presentation was called “No More Lonely Nights!”. I walked into an imposing hall and faced a sea of silent divorcées glaring at me with an “I dare you to make me smile” look. I understood. I knew what it was like to dream big and start small …and late. I knew what it was like to be well… negative. So that’s what I talked about. I admitted it all. And guess what? So did they! They shared their negative thinking! Then they exorcised their evil ex’s. The room swelled with hope as mousy bespectacled men revealed secret romantic yearnings and little old ladies proclaimed plans to put passion back in their lives! I had them hootingall night and wiping tears of laughter from there eyes!

What happened?

We stopped hiding. We stopped pretending. And we traveled through the worlds of bad, mad and sad to… glad!

And I think I found the secret to being motivational:

Collapse on your bed…and let your dreams take flight!

No… that couldn’t be it.

I have it!

Have a good cry…and try to fly high!

No no no!

Here it is!

Tap into the power of negative thinking…and reach for the stars!

Yes!

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