Author Archive

Does public speaking give you the heebee geebees?

Last week, I facilitated a two-day executive presentation skills workshop for an awesome group of professionals in the banking industry. I pushed them out of their comfort zones, and they rose to the occasion, demonstrating tremendous courage, creativity and risk tolerance. The progress and improvement that each of them made was impressive…and we caught it all on videotape!

Still, I was reminded of how difficult it can be for some people to overcome their fear of public speaking. Breathing techniques help, as do the guided visualization and the power posing, but for some people, giving presentations can cause true physiological distress.

To that end, I decided to repost a recent blog article written by my good friend and strategic partner, Linda Coveney. Read how Linda overcame her own fear of public speaking, and then took that same strategy to tackle other fears that were holding her back.

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, it’s time to address the monstrous fears that we create inside our own minds, and bravely work through them. Face your fear and do it anyway. Speak your fear and diminish its power over you. I’d like for each of you to think of public speaking as a delicious TREAT that you want to receive in your goodie bag.

What Scares You?

by Linda Coveney

Is it monsters that hide under your bed or howling sounds of banshees during the Full Moon?  How about those Halloween Trick or Treaters that might not be too happy if you run out of treasures on October 31?

Fear is one of the Five Natural Emotions: Grief, Anger, Envy, Fear, and Love.

These emotions have both positive and negative aspects.  They can move a person to achieve goals or they can be destructive and cause a person to do things he/she may regret in the long run.
Here are some of the common fears people have:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Public Speaking
  • Snakes and Spiders
  • Heights
  • Flying
  • Loneliness
  • Dying

When we are afraid, our body reacts in a flight or fight manner.  Our pulse rises and digestion slows.  While opinions differ on the matter, they favor it not being possible to be frightened to death, despite the number of times our mothers told us, “you almost scared me to death”.  Good tactic to keep us in line.
Public speaking used to be one of my biggest fears.  In school, I’d rather get a bad grade on a book report than spend one more minute in the front of the room.  However, that didn’t stop me from volunteering to bring in my accordion and treat the class to a few of my favorite tunes.
I remember the first time I had to give a presentation at work.  I was actually hoping for a  crisis that would prevent me from showing up. If I didn’t have to pay the rent, I might have decided to stay home or quit my job – that’s how bad it was.   When there was no way out, I found that I didn’t die, no one laughed, and with practice, public speaking became one of my favorite things to do.   I know I’m not alone in this.  There’s data that says many people prefer death to speaking in public.

By facing my fears, it opened up my life to opportunities that might not have been available otherwise.  I was also lucky to get some support from people who believed in me and helped me to take steps to increase my confidence.
My wake up call for health was influenced by the fear of growing old and not having the energy and vitality to experience life fully.  After putting in 60-hour workweeks for decades, it just didn’t seem fair that I might end up as an observer and not a participant in the rest of my life.  Of course, as I made the changes in healthy diet and lifestyle, I had to face the fear of giving up the foods that I used as an emotional crutch.

My path to success was to take a slow approach of adding in foods that were healthy and delicious.  I stayed motivated as I learned to listen to my body and discovered how poor choices lead to discomfort and poor moods.
How often do we want to make changes, but we hold ourselves back? Perhaps it’s a fear of failure or lack of trust  in your own power.   Have you ever heard anyone say, “I’m afraid if I eat too many fruits and vegetables, I may get really fit and I’ll become very happy – What will my friends think?”  Yet, despite all the information that supports this change, we resist.  Moving out of our comfort zone is not always easy, but it is possible with support and determination.
Health coaching is designed not just to provide knowledge, but to address what really is getting in the way of you taking the positive steps to achieve your healthy, happy life. 
So what scares you about changing your diet or making lifestyle changes that support good health?

Fear is a survival mechanism when there is a threat of pain or danger. It is only harmful when it paralyzes you and causes inaction. Instead of getting paralyzed, conquer your fears and use them to push you beyond your limits. Using this emotion can awaken hidden resources you didn’t even know were there.  Find the support you need to help you in this quest.



About Linda Coveney

Linda CoveneyLinda is an energetic coach and trainer with a passion for helping individuals, teams and organizations excel through healthy-behaviors.

In addition to her Health Coach Certification, Linda is a Center for Creative Leadership Certified 360°Feedback Facilitator and an Insights Discovery® Licensed Practitioner.

Contact Linda via telephone at 860.614-1548 or email her at


Contact Linda:   860.614.1548

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Learn more at Linda’s web site: www.

Actively manage your personal brand

We are fortunate this week to have a guest contributor – my colleague and dear friend, Rahna Barthelmess. Rahna is an expert in branding and personal branding and today’s guest blogger.

She and I first met when she was a brand manager at LEGO. We both attended a “Train the Trainer” program for personal branding at The Tom Peters Company. That was nearly 7 years ago and our relationship has grown immensely. I consider Rahna to be one of my Top 50 Contacts.

That training experience was the launch of our friendship and our mutual interest in the subject of personal branding. We have both been speaking and coaching on personal branding ever since.

Rahna is celebrating the launch of her new book, Your Branding Edge: How Personal Branding Can Turbocharge Your Career with a virtual blog tour, and I am happy to host her first “stop.” Personal branding and networking go hand-in-hand, so it’s only natural that we would have become friends.  We have done several corporate leadership training programs together, and she quoted me in her book. Read on to find out what she said about networking as an activity that builds your personal brand.


Networking and Personal Branding Go Hand-in-Hand

by Rahna Barthelmess, author of Your Branding Edge

Networking is a critical part of any personal brand and certainly a key aspect of turbocharging your career. You want people to know who you are and what you’re all about, and you can do that in person, on the phone, at a networking event, or even digitally.

Your branding edge is that “special something” that calls out to people that they need the unique value that you have to offer. The discipline of developing one’s personal brand consists of identifying what is unique about you and then shining a spotlight on that so that others can see what value you have to bring.

How does your career advance? It is always through people—bosses who promote you, clients that hire you, consumers who buy from you, customers who rave about you, people who see and acknowledge your value. So it stands to reason that it’s crucial to be connected with other people and to communicate with them in order to benefit from having a really strong personal brand.

Think about your various networks. You have a network of friends, family, and business colleagues, as well as your community network. These people experience your personal brand on a regular basis. All of these networks can be interconnected and can help you strengthen and deliver your personal brand to a wide audience.

My good friend, Kathy McAfee, author of Networking Ahead for Busi­ness says, “Networking allows you to grow your sphere of influence in order to manage your career, create new business opportunities, and increase your personal influence in the world. This can be done by access­ing three major spheres of your network: your active network, your lost network, and your future network.” She is a master networker and helps others break down their networking efforts into manageable chunks. Think about each of these networks and identify those whom you value and those whom you can help. Kathy recommends that you identify a “Top 50” list of your inner circle of people with whom you network, and then suggests you contact them at least once every five weeks or so.

Some people say that it’s not who you know, but who knows you that is important. Personally, I think they are both important. If you are going to contribute, you will need to refer your friends and family to people who can help them, which means you need to know other people. When you focus deliberately on your networking activities, with an eye toward developing your personal brand, you will be more purposeful about connecting with people and helping people—people in your current network as well as those whom you’d like to add. And as you focus on giving to other people, you’ll discover a richness to your life that will benefit you tenfold.

Personal branding is a form of marketing yourself, becoming known by others for your strengths and value. Strong personal branding helps your career because it paves the way for opportunities to come to you. So expand the list of people who know you and the value you can bring, as this will strengthen your personal brand.


Three simple tips from Rahna to help you leverage networking and personal branding to your advantage

Subscribe to Rahna’s YouTube channel and get more insights to help you sharpen your branding edge. Click below to hear Rahna’s three simple tips to make networking EASIER!

More about Rahna

Rahna Barthelmess is a branding and personal branding consultant and the author of Your Branding Edge: How Personal Branding Can Turbocharge Your Career.  Rahna trains corporate sales teams, mentors CEOs and entrepreneurs, and coaches professionals across the globe to help them make more money and have more fun by leveraging their personal brands.   To receive your own special guide to personal branding and access the full virtual book tour schedule, visit

LIKE Rahna’s Facebook Fan page -

Speak your fear and diminish its power over you

What are you afraid of? You are probably thinking to yourself, “How much time do you have?” But then again, you might be afraid that you don’t have enough time. Fear entangles us once again.

This past weekend, I attended The Achiever’s Conference in beautiful La Jolla, California. Led by the brilliant and inspiring Mark LeBlanc of Small Business Success, thirty of his coaching clients gathered to get laser-focused on building our businesses through the disciplined, consistent application of nine best practices. It was motivating!

On day one of the three day conference, Mark explained that what stops us is FEAR. Fear is behind every excuse, every delayed decision, every doubt, and every one of our inactions. Real or imagined, fear stops us from achieving our goals and creating the business and life we desire.

Mark then invited the participants to share with the group some of our fears. Talk about fear provoking: sharing your fears with people that you only just met. I was thinking to myself, “How do I get out of here?”

One by one, people stood up and shared their fears. We were sitting in two rows of chairs facing each other, with a big open space in the room. As my fellow business owners shared their fears aloud, I could see them in my mind’s eye stacking up on the floor in front of us. Of course there was nothing there, but that’s just how powerful the mind can be. It can see things that are not there; it can feel things that aren’t actually happening. The mind is powerful. It can act like a fear-creating machine

Here are just some of the common fears that were shared by the group. Keep in mind, these are fears held by very accomplished business owners. Success and fear and not mutually exclusive!

I’m afraid…

  1. I won’t have enough clients
  2. Of the lack of cash flow – inconsistent income – money might dry up
  3. People might discover that I’m a fake. (Imposter syndrome)
  4. I have social anxiety. I’m afraid to be with people.
  5. I’m not good enough
  6. I’m not enough
  7. I’ll procrastinate….again.
  8. I’ll let people down
  9. Of aging – getting old – getting sick
  10. Of being rejected
  11. Of not be loved or accepted
  12. That they won’t like me
  13. I’ll sound stupid
  14. I don’t have an original thought of my own
  15. Of being myself
  16. That I might be addicted
  17. That people don’t want what I have to offer
  18. Of failing and looking like a fool
  19. Of being hopelessly mediocre
  20. Of playing small all my life
  21. Of being a “bag lady” – becoming homeless
  22. Of never accomplishing anything significant in my life
  23. Of public speaking
  24. Of snakes
  25. Etc. etc. etc.

As my brave colleagues began to break the ice and starting naming their fears in the safety of this supportive environment, I began to sense an emotional shift in the group. Empathy grew. Fear dissipated. Camaraderie blossomed. Loneliness faded. The group dynamics were beginning to shift.

Still, I was afraid to share my fears amongst these people whom I had just met only one hour before. I was afraid to share my fears. I still felt that they were “unspeakable truths.” I waited and waited. I wondered if anyone would notice if I didn’t contribute to this particular group exercise. But I knew that my business coach, Mark LeBlanc, would notice, and I couldn’t let him down. So I shared my fears, second to the last person.

I willed my body to stand up. I took a deep breath and just let it go. Fear after fear after fear. With every second that passed and every fear that left my body, I felt stronger and more powerful. Speaking my fears aloud in this place at this time was an incredibly empowering experience. I would never have imagined it to have that effect, but it did.

As a trainer and facilitator, it occurred to me that Mark LeBlanc has chosen a very risky exercise to begin his Achiever’s Conference. And therein lies his brilliance. He knows that you can’t grow from a place of fear. You can’t adopt new ways, try new things, and implement best practices, if you are afraid.

Put this idea into action

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can be quickly created and strengthened by your memories, trauma, misunderstandings, the media, and your imagination – including the disaster stories you make up in your own mind. Fear can quickly hijack your brain and immobilize you for minutes, hours, days, years, even a lifetime.

Among the many pearls of practical wisdom that Mark LeBlanc shared with us achievers at his conference was “Act first. Feel later.”

I encourage you to call your fear out. Speak its ugly name. Expose it to the light and air. Its hold over you will quickly be released. You are bigger than the sum of your fears. Remember…

“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933


Are you a born leader?

Last week, I spoke at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, as part of their Leadership Speaker series, which was made possible by a Target® Stores grant. (Thank you Target!) My talk was entitled: Everyday Leadership: Motivating the Leader in You.

After the talk, one of the savvy students asked me whether I thought leaders were born or made. It is a profound question that has been asked and pondered by many people.

After taking a slow, deep breath, giving me time to reflect on his question, I answered, “I think leaders are made. I think that anyone can become a leader, if the inner drive and external support are favorable.”

Centuries before our time, people who were born into royalty, wealth and privilege were accepted as naturally superior to others. They were born into the leadership role and were obligated to lead their family fortunes and their nations, even if they didn’t have the character, skill or desire to lead. Others were precluded from leadership opportunities simply by virture of their birth and family lineage. Of course, history has proven that leaders come from all walks of life and that you can become an important leader even if you weren’t born into it.

On questions like this, I like to consult the experts that are in my network. So I turned to two individuals who specialize in leadership development: David O’Brien and Allison Akers Davis.

Leadership is a choice

David O’Brien’s short answer to the question of whether leaders are born or made? is “I don’t know for sure, but what I do know for sure is that…

“Everyone has the capacity to lead. Leadership is a choice and once you make that choice, you are called to demonstrate leadership every waking second of every day. There is no off switch on leadership”

David used to think about leadership in terms of leading people. That is how one uses his/her influence to lead, inspire and engage groups of people. Following the Great Recession of 2009, David began to think about leadership from a broader context. In his Article – Redefining Leadership, David reminds us that the world in which we live calls for true leadership outside of work too.

“Leadership today is by my estimation much more about the opportunity we each have to demonstrate personal leadership in all aspects of life versus the single dimension of work or job title.”

David defines personal accountability as “consistently doing more than is expected well and with a good attitude.” He suggests that the heightened level of personal accountability starts with the leader as he or she is the role model for the desired behaviors, attitudes and performance.

Through this lens, I believe we all have the opportunity to be leaders. It’s not about power and control, or fame and fortune, but about personal responsibility and accountability. Are you born or made this way? Who were the role models of this leadership trait in your life?

I encourage you to learn more about leadership from David O’Brien, who has kindly allowed me to share these resources with my readers:

Perhaps we are looking at the question too narrowly

Allison Akers Davis would argue that leaders are both born and made. She shared with me the following:

“There are charismatic leaders who show signs of leadership in the sandbox, those children who other children dress like and want to be like. We knew them in high school, the kids who had their own style and other kids hung on every word, they are charismatic, focused and engaged in learning.

 Leaders can also be developed. Coaching can help leaders to build an awareness of how they show up and what actions to take to build on strengths, such as relationship building, and to pay attention to their opportunities, such as leadership presence. Coaching and leadership development can then help leaders to learn and apply new techniques for greater success on the job.”

Does the personality you are born with determine your leadership potential?

To answer this question, I turned to the work of Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Susan reminds us that society has shifted its definition of leadership to one that favors the extroverted personality type. Charisma seems to be a must-have quality of a leader.

Ms. Cain reminds us that there are many outstanding examples of leaders who were not born with charming, outgoing personalities. Leaders and world changers like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Sonia Sotomayor, Rosa Parks, Al Gore, Warren Buffett, Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others.

Susan says “We tend to overestimate how outgoing leaders need to be.” She says that when it comes to leaders and leadership, we need to focus on “substance rather than style.”

Put this idea into action

No matter when, where, how, or in what circumstance you were born into this world, you have an opportunity to develop yourself into a leader.

It starts with leading yourself.

This is perhaps the most difficult leadership challenge that any of us face. It means being honest with yourself, acknowledging your weaknesses and addictions, consciously changing behaviors and beliefs. You have to accept full responsibility for everything that happens in your life. No more blaming others. Never again.

This kind of personal leadership will require you to examine your values, intentions and purpose. This is hard work. It will take much reflection on your part. It’s not something you can purchase. You can’t acquire this kind of personal leadership by getting more people to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. You have to earn it with sweat equity.

When you discover that you are a leader…When you decide that this is true of you…You will stand taller and think differently. You will be open to new opportunities.


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