19/11/18 Personal Juju


In early October, I tumbled helplessly down a rabbit hole in a little bar called Robert’s Western World. I’d gone to Nashville to speak at an event, and that first night, my friend Carla and I were itchin’ to get a taste of the Nashville scene.

(Side note: this is the third of my four “Lessons from Nashville.” If you missed the others, you can find them here on the Strategic Juju blog.)

If you’ve never been to Nashville, you should know that one of the most remarkable things about Broadway—the street that runs through the center of town—is how CLOSE you can get to the music. Immensely talented musicians pour their hearts out just feet away from you in a beautiful transfer of energy that’s a gift beyond belief.

I’m not gonna lie, I am not a fan of country music. But the live music in Nashville is so good, that the genre is entirely irrelevant.

Robert’s is a honky-tonk. Wooden floor and bar, stools that are bolted to the floor. There are rows of cowboy boots for sale on dusty shelves and posters tacked to every inch of the walls. There’s a sign behind the bar that says: “Dumb-Asses This Way.” Back-to-back people—almost all of them shockingly friendly—in boots and jeans and leather vests, holding Bud Lights and nodding to the music, let out an occasional whoop or an “aaah, yeaaah.”

There’s nothing fancy about Robert’s. But it’s got a vibe that just won’t quit.

I fell down the rabbit hole that night at Robert’s when I saw a 19-year-old guitar player named Luke McQueary. And I went on a journey with him that shocked the sh*& out of me, and kept me thinking about it for days.

I was mesmerized by Luke McQueary. I could not take my eyes off of him. He played in a four-man band. But I could only see Luke. I was totally lost in his world for nearly three hours.

Now, lest you think I’m a lech or a cradle-robber or a stalker, I promise you this had nothing to do with me wanting Luke, or being attracted to him “in that way.” It had everything to do with his unwitting invitation to lead me down that rabbit hole.

Even though I immediately recognized his talent as a guitar player (it was impossible NOT to see or hear), all of my attention was on Luke’s face. His facial expressions were like none I’ve ever seen. It was as though he was using his lips, his cheeks, his eyebrows, his chin to FEEL the music. The music flowed through his guitar, but his countenance was inextricably tied to every note.

After the first twenty minutes or so, I realized that I’d become so lost in Luke’s performance… because Luke was so lost in it. He was captivated by the moment. Entirely swept away by what he was doing. Completely unaware of what people around him were thinking.

And in seeing him that way, I felt that I was taking part in an intimate moment. Like he had laid himself bare.

And I immediately felt protective of him. I had his back. I followed him. Because he had been so honest with me. Because he had been so raw before me.

I wanted—simultaneously—to keep the discovery to myself and to share it with the world. I suspect that every single person watching Luke felt what I felt that night.

This was a one-way moment, #NAME#. Luke didn’t even know I was there. (I feel 100% positive he’s not writing an email to his friends about ME this morning.) And that’s what makes this all the more remarkable. He just gave what he gave naturally. Without expectation. Without a need for validation or connection.

He just loved what he did, and so I loved what he did.

Carla and I went back to Robert’s three more times that week. The vibe was so intensely beautiful, that we couldn’t resist the draw.

In Luke McQueary, I found a golden lesson. I learned that when we surrender to the beauty and power of what we’re doing—when we allow ourselves to fully FEEL our expressions of creativity, or love, or desire—others can’t help but to be drawn in.

I also learned that it’s the striving, the posing, the caring about what others think that ultimately drives them away.

And so I invite you, today, to show yourself to others in the throes of doing what moves you. Don’t try to fix it or clean it up or make it presentable.

Just love what you do in the presence of others.

And invite them right down into your rabbit hole.

From the heart,

P.S. I took a video of Luke that first night at Robert’s, and I watch it sometimes now, before I write. If you want to see what I saw in Luke, I posted it here. But I warn you not to steal Luke’s energy without giving something back. Follow him on YouTube or Facebook. Buy his CD or go see him in Nashville and give him a big tip. It’s a circle, this kind of giving. You have to participate in the circle if you want to continue receiving…

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16/11/18 Uncategorized


Shame lives in our bodies. For me, it lives right at the top of my chest. And sometimes, when I’m talking, I choke on it.

I got my shame from all kinds of places. I can remember—as a little girl—hearing the words, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

And you know what? Sometimes, I still am.

I wanted to share with you–in a series of posts—my “Lessons from Nashville.” (If you missed Wednesday’s lesson about the voice in your head, you can find it here.) These are four powerful messages that I uncovered during my first experience speaking from stage, in front of a thousand women in Nashville, Tennessee.

And today’s lesson is about shame.

In early October in Nashville, I took a huge risk on stage. I shared my shame. I shared a story about a particularly contentious morning in our house. A morning when I’d felt overcome by menopausal rage, a moment when my need to be a “helicopter parent” stared me right in the face… a moment when I’d said things to my teenager that I deeply regretted. A moment when I felt I’d lost control.

A moment that I’d choked on nearly every day since it had happened.

Here’s the thing about shame: It’s different than guilt. Guilt relates to something we’ve done. We feel regretful about an action or a behavior, and our guilt moves us to take corrective action. But shame is different. Because it’s not about what we’ve done, it’s about who we ARE.

Brene Brown–who’s become the Internet’s foremost guru on shame–says that guilt says: “I’ve done something bad.” While shame says: “I AM something bad.”

As I’d practiced my speech in the weeks leading up to the event, each time I’d come to this story, I’d choked. Many times I’d cried. Pacing in my bathroom, with only the echo of my own voice to keep me company, I swallowed that shame over and over again.

Because here’s another thing to know about shame: It only lives in solitude. It’s only when we speak our shameful moments aloud to others—as we shine light on the shame for others to see—that it loses its power over us.

And so when I got on stage that morning and told my story to a thousand women, I didn’t choke. It just traveled up from my heart, through my chest, out of my mouth… and right into their hearts.

And then I learned one of the most powerful lessons of my life as a leader:

When we share our shame with others and set ourselves free, we give others the chance to do the same.

After I stepped off the stage, I walked outside the conference room where the audience was listening to the next speaker, and I took a deep breath. I got myself a cup of coffee. I allowed myself to come down from the high of the lights and the applause and the music, and I waited for the doors to open, and for the women to spill out for lunch.

And when they did, something remarkable happened.

Strangers began to walk up to me and tell me about their shame. One woman told me that the last thing she’d said to her dying step-father was that his cancer was his own fault. One woman told me she’d over-fed her children, and they were struggling with obesity. Another woman told me she struggled with deep and brutal shame over the shape of her own body. Another told me her husband had left her and she felt horrible shame for not being attractive enough to keep him. The stories went on and on.

I stood with these women and helped them find ways to forgive themselves. I held their hands as they cried. And I hugged them as they found peace.

I have to admit that even after 25 years in branding and marketing, I never anticipated the power of sharing my shame. It hit me like a beautiful, magical ton of bricks.

If you’re on my email list, chances are you came here to learn about branding. You came to learn how to spread your message or put your product out there. How to get people to notice you, to listen to you, to believe in you.

And the biggest part of branding is allowing ourselves to really be SEEN. Because a powerful brand is a REAL brand. An HONEST brand. Dare I say, at the risk of sounding pathetically passé, an AUTHENTIC brand…

And I can’t imagine a brand message more beautifully powerful than one that offers relief from one of the most insidious feelings on earth: SHAME.

I want to be very careful here—lest you think I’m suggesting that you manipulate people with your stories. Because I am not suggesting that for a moment. Manipulation is a sickening kind of branding. An under-handed way of selling.

What I am suggesting, is that you consider a way to share your shame if it will help those who are in your orbit.

If you have a moment of shame that relates to your core message—a moment that kept you in the chains of a horrible belief about who you ARE–then share it.

If you can find the courage to share your own story of shame, it will undoubtedly set you free. And in the process, you may just unlock the door for countless others.

You are beautiful and perfect.
And I am honored to have a moment in your day.

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LESSONS FROM NASHVILLE: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
14/11/18 Personal Juju

LESSONS FROM NASHVILLE: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

In early October, I stood in the back of a room filled with a thousand screaming women. They were dancing, shouting, hollering, clapping, laughing… for me.

And as I paced behind the rows of chairs, ready to step onto a stage for the first time in my life, I had a moment that I knew would change the trajectory of my entire career. And—if it’s not too dramatic to say—change the world.

Let me back up just a second. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here. If you’ve been following me on other platforms, you may know that I launched my book and have been on a bit of a “tour,” inspiring women to step up to the second half of life. As part of that process, I was invited to speak–from a stage in Nashville–to a thousand “Lady Bosses.” I was invited by Kaelin Tuell Poulin, a fitness guru with more than 85,000 women in her private program.

It was a real boon, lemme tell ya.

I busted my butt preparing for LadyBoss Live. I got a masterful coach who helped me to prepare a kick-ass talk. I practiced the talk every day, first memorizing 35 minutes of text—90 seconds at a time—and then walking through it again and again to feel comfortable with my gestures, walking the length of the stage, calling the audience to respond. I spent hours choosing the right clothing and smiling at my reflection in the mirror.

LadyBoss Live was the kick-off for my speaking career, and I was determined to feel 100% READY when I got on that stage.

And then the “morning of” arrived. I showed up in the Green Room for hair and make-up, forced down my oatmeal, ran through my talk, and walked through the door of the room where I was to speak.

And there they were. A thousand women… on fire. Pumped and primed and totally open for new ideas and inspiration and leadership. They were practically begging me to step onto the stage…

When someone started whispering this in my ear:

“What are you gonna do if you forget your lines?
What if you trip on the way up the stairs?
What if they hate you?
What if they laugh at you?
What if you’re too much for them?
Too big?
Too aggressive?
Too full of yourself?
What if this is your last chance to ever speak again?
How are you gonna feel tomorrow after this all blows up in your face?”

Can you imagine ANYONE who’d say such horrible things to me in the literal moment of my big break? I’ll bet you can. Because I’ll bet that you have a brutal critic exactly like this one.

Right inside your head.

In the past, this nasty little bit&% has taken me down. She’s beaten me up. She’s sent me right through doors crying and left me in bed with the covers over my head.

But that morning, I was ready for her. I knew she’d come along with me to Nashville. She was chattering through the whole flight and chewing gum in my ear when I checked in at the front desk. She was “checking” me in the days before my speech. Making sure to remind me how small I was, and what a bad idea it was to try to go big.

So I knew that morning she’d be screaming over the voices of all those women. I knew she’d be jumping up and down and pointing her finger in my face.

But I made a conscious choice.
To THANK her.
To RECOGNIZE what she was trying to do for me.
And then to politely tell her I just didn’t need her that day.
That she was welcome to watch, but not to make decisions.

And I gave respect, instead, to the truth about what would happen if I gave in to her:

If I missed that moment…
If I missed out on a thousand women screaming my name…
I’d just keep doing it.
And all of my time preparing would have just been wasted days and wasted nights.

And so I told myself what I knew to be true:
I’d done the work, so the words would come.
The message had come TO me, so it was mine to share.
And this was my moment.

And I stepped onto that stage…

It was the most rewarding moment of my professional career. They laughed at my jokes and clapped at the right times and leaned in and listened… and TOOK NOTES! (Can you imagine? Someone taking NOTES when you talk?? What a gas!)

And I saw, right from the stage, that my words were changing them. Some women cried. I could see them lay down their defenses right before me, and take in the message that they were PERFECT. And that they were in for the best part of their lives.

And then, they gave me a standing ovation.

The voice in my head? She didn’t even congratulate me. And she learned NOTHING from the experience.

She’ll be back next time to shoot me down and suck the life out of me. After all, that’s her job, right? To keep me safe?

What about the voice in YOUR head?
What’s she telling you?
How many “back-stage” moments have you had when she’s cried out, and you’ve decided to pay respect to her nasty diatribes?
How many times has she told you what you’re worth, and you believed her?
How many times has she knitted you a sweater of shame, and you put it on?

Here’s the trick.
And listen up, because it’s a life-changer.

She’s not going away.

And believe it or not, although she’s 100% full of bullsh%&, she’s actually on your team.
So treat her like a team member.
Acknowledge her.
Thank her for her warnings.
Recognize her for her commitment to your “safety.”

And then make the conscious choice to just IGNORE everything she says.

Just nod. And then do whatever you want.

Listen, there’s a very good chance that the voice inside my head is actually the SAME voice that’s inside yours. And I can tell ya, she’s a playground bully. Push back, and she’s got NO GAME.

Here’s to your next back-stage moment.

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