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Networking for Results: Michael Hughes

Networking for Results: Michael Hughes

May 19, 2022

How to build and nurture a stronger more productive network

A strong network is based on strong relationships

Michael Hughes is the networking guy. He shares his insights about networking online, in person and in a hybrid world.

Episode 95 (Michael is based in Ottawa, Canada)


In this conversation we explore:

  • How to center your mind for a better networking experience
  • How to use Linkedin to start the conversation
  • The nuances of virtual versus live networking
  • The importance of establishing trust as the foundation 
  • The importance of value exchange in networking
  • Leverage your curiosity
  • The strengths and challenges of introverts and extraverts

About Michael Hughes:

Michael has invested the past 20 years researching networking as a business strategy and professional competency.

He is known as North America's Networking Guru.

He is a past chair of the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Board of Trade, one of the oldest and most respected Chambers of Commerce in Canada.

Learn more Michael Hughes and his programs at



Excerpts from this conversation with Michael Hughes

Here's the reality. The reality is, every person has the potential to help you in some way, to the extent that they're willing to enable your mission.

Our mission is to discover their ability as we grow and develop a relationship with them. So rather than having that one dimensional perspective of, "I just connected with George, I want to I want him as a client, I want him to give me money".

It's about understanding, George, you and I are both professionals. And there's a way that we can help one another.

Networking is not a sales arena. It's a peer to peer connection environment. And the more you focus on building a relationship, from a peer to peer perspective, and those opportunities are always here, as you connect with people as you interact with them to talk about their career, talk about their background, talking about their interests, talk about what's important to them.

And the more you can position yourself, so that you can build that relationship. Now relationships are about three things.

They're about trust, value, and contribution. Every important relationship in your life is based on trust. But it's built on value. And we all have a value. And then the third thing is contribution.

So the smartest thing you can do as you connect with people engage in these conversations, is find some way to, to contribute to them, to be helpful for them. And that's, that's the biggest piece.

The most difficult part for most professionals, when it comes to online networking and relationship building, is transitioning their mindset, from a technical perspective, to a personal perspective, and growing a professional relationship to see how we can help one another. That's my perspective.



Michael if you could talk to to a business leader who's preparing to go to a networking event. And perhaps they're a little cautious, uncertain, nervous?

What if you could give them one, two or three pieces of advice? And maybe it starts with what self talk should they have?

What talks should they have with themselves before they go into the room?



Just an excellent question

because too many people get so stressed and worked up about walking into a room full of people. And so what I suggest to people is just before you walk into the room, take 10 or 15 seconds and remind yourself that success you've had in the past.

First of all, what's one event I went to where I'm in a good context. The second thing is, is to think in terms to prepare for success. And I'm going to meet somebody here who can have an impact on my career, or my life.

So that's the starting point is, is prepare yourself as you walk. And the second thing is, once you while you walk in is be yourself. So many times we try and be someone else. And it just doesn't work to be yourself.

And the third thing is think in terms of connecting with people making friends. Remember, I keep telling people networking is not a sales environment. It's a peer to peer connection network. People don't go to networking events to be sold.

Consider that you're going to meet other professionals and discover the value they have and see how you can work together.


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Conversations Worth Having: Jackie Stavros & Cheri Torres

Conversations Worth Having: Jackie Stavros & Cheri Torres

May 12, 2022

Everything happens because of a conversation

How can you shape your conversations for more positive results?


Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres challenge us and guide us on how to create and participate with more productive conversations - both with ourselves and others.

Episode 94 (Jackie is based in Michigan. Cheri is based in North Carolina)


In this conversation we explore:

  • The difference between appreciative and depreciative conversations
  • How to use curiosity as a conversational tool
  • The concept and practice of Appreciative Inquiry
  • How to manage the conversation in your head
  • How to build a stronger team with better questions
  • The power of generative questions and positive reframing


About my guests:

They are co-authors of the book, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement


Learn more about Conversations Worth Having and the free resources here.



Jackie Stavros is known for creating a program called SOAR. That's a positive approach to strategic thinking, planning and leading. She's worked in 25 countries using appreciative inquiry to help 1,000s of people. 

Cheri Torres is a serial entrepreneur having started one nonprofit and two for profit organizations. She holds a Master's in transpersonal psychology and PhD in educational psychology.


Excerpts from this conversation with Jackie Stavos and Cheri Torres



The book is called Conversations worth having. And it is it's focused on the idea that everything we do happens in conversation, whether in conversation with others, or a conversation with ourselves.

And so if we want to have the outcomes we are hoping for, we need to be careful about the conversations we have, we need to choose to have conversations that move us towards what we want conversations that invite strong relationships, and bring us well being as well in the way we engage in those conversations.



Now, I'm curious, I imagine that all conversations, start with the conversation with ourselves. And I'm also wondering, How much control do we have over those self conversations?



That's a great question, George. I think if you're aware of it, and we're talking about it now, you are you have an intention to decide, am I going to come into a conversation above the line from an appreciative space?

Or, you know, am I am I below the line? And in our book, we talk about the importance of tuning into yourself, and simply asking a question, Where am I?

Am I above the line, or that depreciated place below the line. And if you're below the line, and you're listening to this, just try this technique to pause. Take a deep breath, see how that feels in you and get curious and just pausing and breathing. Get you to move above the line. It just resets your whole body mindset.



Jackie, I want to clarify what the line represents.



So imagine a straight line. If you're above the line, that's called an appreciative space where I value you, George, I value the situation that we're in. And I want to add value so that's appreciation.

If you're below that line, you're in that depreciated space where you know I may not be valuing you I may not value the situation. mission.

And sometimes, if you don't think about your intended message, you could fall, the words can take you below the line. And even if you don't get enough sleep or have enough water, or, you know, just just your physiologic can push it below that line. So think about where am I?



Now, Sherry, I noticed some, some powerful wisdom in there and advice. And what, what resonated with me is that when one when we think we're being criticised that instead of responding in anger, or defending, or counter attacking, we respond with curiosity.



Hey, George, that's exactly right. Get curious.

Jackie mentioned that tuning in that,  can we be intentional with our conversations?

That when you someone criticises you, it's normal to feel defensive, or like wanting to lash back.

But if you pause, that interrupts that pattern, and it also interrupts the, the biochemical soup that is starting to be dumped into your system.

And if you then take several deep breaths, which is what Jackie mentioned, that deep breathing kicks in the parasympathetic nervous system, which further tamps down the cortisol and testosterone, and then getting curious is a positive emotion, which pushes you into the executive functions of the brain, where you can ask a question, you can be intentional with your conversations.



And I just add that there's a magazine behind me that says the business case for curiosity. So Harvard Business Review did an article on the business case for curiosity for business leaders, and there, you think about their intended messages.

And if you were to just look up curiosity, all the health benefits of curiosity. And if you're naturally curious, it's easier it's more natural. You'll be asking general questions.


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Selling with Personality Intelligence: Benjamin Bressington

Selling with Personality Intelligence: Benjamin Bressington

May 5, 2022

You can have more influence, persuasion or close deals faster

Understand personality styles and leverage the data about persuasion


Benjamin Bressington offers insights into the science of persuasion and selling based on behavioral research.

Episode 93 (Ben is an Australian living in Florida)


In this conversation we explore:

  • Why AIDA is a selling model that is out of date (150 years)
  • The difference between closing and committing
  • Key questions to ask to tap their emotional needs
  • The bird conflict that you need to understand to avoid
  • The common theme between professionals sales people and start athletes
  • Why you should record your sales conversations 
  • The role of data in selling

About Benjamin Bressington

Ben applies lessons from criminology and gamification to help companies and sales people close deals faster.

Ben is the CEO of Behavior Sales, a leading personality intelligence company.

His latest book is “People Ignorant: Unlocking Success, Confidence & Influence.”

Learn more about how you can use the Behavior Sales techniques to boos your sales at

Download your free copy of the Behavior Sales book free download

Behavior Sales book free copy

Excerpts from this conversation with Benjamin Bressington


The worst thing you want to do in handling an objection is go feature benefit feature benefit because people become product pushers and not problem solvers.



It was designed for a different type of consumer behaviour. And one of the things is, you need to understand what we call sales resistance.

And a lot of the things people are doing in today's communication is creating unintended resistance, hence, you get ghosted. Hence, people go, Hey, that sounds interesting. Will you send me a flyer? Will you send me an email?

That's them brushing you off? Because what's going to happen next, they're going to ghost you, right? So the thing is, is people need to be aware of the words, they're saying how they're saying it because you're actually creating subconscious emotional resistance, which we call sales resistance, and therefore, you're actually sabotaging your own sales.

So you can do this with body language, and you can do it linguistically. And that's what we're why we're sharing so much about behavioural intelligence, and how this has really changed.

There's the old school of selling. And now there's the new school of selling, which actually uses data to actually provide people with a feedback loop on how to improve their communication.


Ben in wrapping up, if you could offer a sales leader, one, two or three bits of advice, and maybe it's something you've already said, but they're gonna they're gonna go meet with 13 for a sales meeting, and what might they be saying about we're going to change the way we're selling.

And here's what I want you to do. Number one, is start addressing personality, understand personality and understand how to have personality driven conversations to create the connection to is look at how you're using your sales rep. recordings.

A lot of people use record calls, but never do anything with them. They don't create, we can actually help a company create a winning conversation baseline that allows you to compare every conversation you're having against that to find out well, was my tonality different was my questions different, that type of stuff, right?

So out like we've got immense data you're not even using. So therefore you're losing massive amounts of data.

And three would be starting to look at how you're using persuasion. Are you using external or internal and if you're still using external I can promise you your sales are being killed.


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Content Repurposing: Sally Curtis

Content Repurposing: Sally Curtis

April 28, 2022

How to leverage your content by reusing and recycling it in other formats

Stay in touch with your market with bite sized messages


Sally Curtis points out the marketing power of bite sized messages and reveals how to leverage your existing content to reconnect to stay remembered.

Episode 92 (Sally Curtis is based in Australia)


In this conversation we explore:

  • How to repurpose content from your book or whitepaper
  • Where to find content even if you haven't written a book or whitepaper
  • How to create your messages bites to be easily consumable
  • How to create teachable moments that linger with your target audience
  • The role of the right image for your tiles
  • How you can use a question in your bite sized message to engage

About Sally Curtis

Sally is a content repurposing and marketing strategist who helps authors consultants, speakers and professionals leverage their wisdom to educate and retain their clients.

She is the chapter president of the South Australian Professional Speakers of Australia.

Learn more Sally Curtis and her programs at



Get your free copy of the ebook, The 3 Easy Steps to Turn Your Book into 2 years Worth of Content




Excerpts from this conversation with Sally Curtis



The reports and the white papers and the blog post don't go away, we still need words to to gather the information. But within the words, there are key points, key reminders. And if we can, it seems to me if we could represent those key points in a visual way that people need to be reminded.



Absolutely, and that's the key thing when your intended message is to create an impact for your audience.

And you've got all of this great content. One of my beliefs is that your, your clients need to be able to consume you on their worst day.

So if someone's having a few think back to your own as scenario, when you're having a really bad day, the last thing you want to do is read a long email. And that's when we get into ticking and flicking emails.

So if you transport or parallel that across your articles, people aren't going to want to read a long article when they're having a bad day. So if you're wanting to create that impact by making it bite sized, you're actually making it easy to consume, easy for them to understand and easy for them to remain connected to you, even when they're having a very, very bad day.



And that makes sense to me because there's some days when I when I pick up the newspaper. I just I read the headlines and I read the comics



Yes, absolutely. There you go. Yep. And that's, that's the whole thing, what you've done there is you've automatically gone, it's that that is too hard.

I'm going to read something that's fun, that's entertaining, that's inspiring, and potentially educational. And those little snippets are exactly what's occurred for you.

So you've gravitated to something that's going to help you have forward movement that day, or being more of an inspired or educated state. And that's exactly what turning that long form content into that bite sized content enables your audience to have we the messaging is getting much more intentional.



Hmm. So we need to reach our clients in a way that is easy for them, that feels useful to them. And and they might even I suppose would it be ideal?

A good test is if I'd put out a bite sized piece of content or put out content? Would it be neat if people started quoting me?



Absolutely. And that's where when you have written a white paper on it, and these are the things that I say a white paper or book, we all have a we talked about this earlier,

I have Sally isms. But we all have something you know, our name isms, we've all got rants, we've all got particular sayings that we say.

And if you're extracting them and bringing them to your audience in a new way. And that repetition of ever coming out helps people identify with you. And then those bite size bits go, oh, that's one of Sally's or that's one of George's pieces, because it becomes instantly recognizable, and said,

Here's the difference with visibility. Now you're recognizable now you're familiar. And one of the things that I find when you've got that authority piece, you've broken it down, you're now educating, inspiring, and helping your audience have forward movement

Is often what happens is these people that are consuming you, and engaging with you, they actually see us start to send you referrals, and they start talking about you and this is before they actually even do business with you. So the bit they do business with you after the after they've actually become an advocate of you and they've started to send people to you.

And that's where those repeatable or quotable messages, make it easy for them to tell a story about you because it was bite size again.


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Find and Tell Your Origin Story: Robert Tighe

Find and Tell Your Origin Story: Robert Tighe

April 21, 2022

Why are you you - and why are you here?

Explore the stories that shape you, change you and define you


Robert Tighe leads us on the discovery of our Origin stories. As a journalist he was inspired to find and help people tell their amazing stories. (Everyone has amazing stories.)

Episode 91 (Robert Tighe is based in New Zealand)


In this conversation we explore:

  • What is the origin story and why is it so important?
  • Searching through the stages of life to find key stories
  • The relevance of stories that shape you, change you and define you
  • Telling good stories starts with story finding
  • Addressing the question "why?"
  • The relevance and danger of sharing painful stories
  • Using story telling as a leadership and teambuilding tool

About Robert Tighe

Robert helps business leaders reflect on their past to create a more purposeful future.

Irish born, Robert explored various pursuits before returning to his first dream of becoming a journalist. He enjoys finding and conveying stories.

Learn more about Robert and book your Story Strategy call at


Excerpts from this conversation with Robert Tighe


Robert, you you brought up Simon Sinek. And in the power of why I'm wondering how important is why in discerning one's origin story?



Yeah. I think it's really important. I think it's really key because I think the best businesses have a really authentic, why behind you know what they do.

And listen, I know, there'll be some sceptics out there who feel that, you know, I sell widgets, and I make really good widgets, and I sell them for a lot of money.

And I don't really care about my why. And that's fine, too, that there's that I totally understand that perspective. But I think more and more so now than ever before.

You know, we're all in the people business. You know, we're all kind of that it's that horrible cliché people buy from people.

But if they don't know about you as a person, then it's really hard for them to trust you, it's really hard for them to get a sense of why you or your company or your product, or your service is the right person to help them solve their problem.

And I think if you can demonstrate an authentic why and the origin story isn't about making up a story here, I think it's probably good to get that across.

But if you can get across your why and on in a real a very real and authentic manner. I think it just really helps you stand out from the crowd of other people, in your space, in your industry, in your sector, whatever it might be.

And it's particularly important, I should add, George, if you're in any kind of business, where you're selling your expertise, right, you know, where you're in that kind of people to people type business, because,  if people know your why, they can get your why then it can really kind of give them a sense of okay, yeah, this is, this is I'm in the right place here.

This is the right person to help me solve my problem.


You mentioned the term that you're more of a story finder, than a storyteller. How, what are what questions do you pose to people to help them find their best stories?



Yeah, I don't know, if I have like a template of questions that I asked it is very much a conversation.

And it is very much as I've talked before, about really making it easy for them by asking them to go back to you know, a few different stages in their lives, to take them back to their their, their earliest memories.

One question that I love to ask people is, what is your earliest understanding our kind of realization of the concept of what you do now?

So it might have been said, say the industry you're in now. Or if you're in sales, what was your very first understanding of what selling was?

What was your first understanding of say what a customer was, I worked with a customer experience consultant recently who he talked to me about what he did, but he spent 20 minutes talking in jargon about UX, and CX and all these terms and acronyms.

And that meant nothing to me. When I stopped and asked him to think back to his very first understanding of what a customer was, and and what a customer meant, he told me about his first job working as a paperboy during a paper round.

And he realized very quickly that if he didn't get out of bed on time, the papers didn't get delivered on time, the customer wasn't happy, and his boss wasn't happy, and he didn't get paid.

So see immediately kind of grasp that the customer was key. You know, from the very early ages, it was very first job, he realized that, you know, keeping the customer satisfied was the most important part of his job.

And I just said, listen, that's, that's it, you've made that you're working in customer experience now. And essentially, that is still the same kind of thing that you need to focus on. Right.

So in terms of questions, I think, rather than questions, it really is helping people identify stories that maybe they don't recognize the value in themselves.

Because I think a lot of the time we're too close to our own stories, right. You know, we've lived with them for so long, and we kind of discount the value in them.

So I think that's, that's a key part of the process. George is helping people identify the value in their stories.


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Leverage Linkedin to Get More Business: Daniel Alfon

Leverage Linkedin to Get More Business: Daniel Alfon

April 14, 2022

How to Get More Business from Linkedin 

Linkedin is NOT intuitive


Daniel Alfon offers thoughtful advice about how to wisely using Linkedin to achieve your career or business goals. He points out several common misunderstandings that lead to costly mistakes.

Episode 90 (Daniel Alfon is based in Israel near Tel Aviv)



In this conversation we explore:

  • Recognizing the common misconceptions about Linkedin
  • A smart approach to setting up your Linkedin profile
  • The critical self-reflection you need to examine before you do anything
  • Why more connections might not be valuable to you
  • How to make the tool work for you instead of falling victim to the tool
  • The advantage in making the most of your banner
  • How Google is supporting your Linkedin profile



About Daniel Alfon

Daniel helps business owners leverage Linkedin to get more leads to grow the business.

Daniel joined Linkedin in Feb 2004. He takes a strategic approach with this online tool. He makes the tool work for him and his clients instead of getting seduced by the shinny object.

You can start improving your Linkedin profile by writing a headline that grabs your target audience. Get a free copy of the cheat sheet here.

Or visit the site


Excerpts from this conversation with Daniel Alfon

Exposure is overrated on LinkedIn. Think of your own profile as a website and not as a CV.


You're absolutely right, it boils down to your intended message. What should be your intended message?

And in three quick steps, Who's your ideal reader? Exactly?

Like you said, the second step question is, what would you like those people? What action would you like those people to perform after they visit your profile?

And the third, are you providing them with the information in the right order for their brain to process it and say, hey, I want to reach out to that person.

I was listening to an episode we had with Diana Booher (Episode 48), the executive presence coach.

You divided it in, you divided it into four buckets, if I remember correctly. The first was the first impression and how we speak as the leader, and how you handle questions. And lastly, about your personality.

We may transform those four buckets to LinkedIn quite easily.

The first impression is what we see when you we visit your profile or when we see you as one of the search results. So it's really the banner and the headline, that that in two seconds, that's what most people see. And then it's the term you use.

And the way you make people understand they need to scroll and discover a little more about you. And the way you handle questions would be the way you interact on LinkedIn. Whether you share whether you comment, whether you like or ask questions on LinkedIn, and your personality should reflect your real life personality.

You shouldn't create a personality for LinkedIn. LinkedIn is here to serve you as a business leader, and not the other way around.



Yes, the banner is a great place to to highlight or to showcase your thought leadership.

And one of the things we need to remember is that whenever someone Google's our name, then our LinkedIn profile will be one of the very top results.

When I Googled George Torok. It's the third results. Even though you published books, and you were on a lot of other platforms, LinkedIn is rated very highly on your on Google.




Now Now that's interesting, Daniel, because that's, and I've noticed that too, but I didn't put much thought into that. And it's probably something that a lot of people don't think about that. LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile is, comes up high in the Google search.



That's absolutely right. And it doesn't matter for the sake of our conversation that maybe the business leader has not visited their LinkedIn profile or hasn't logged in for two years. It doesn't matter. It's not about us. It's about them. It's about our audience.



Daniel, you have I think around 1200 contacts on LinkedIn. My first impression was when I looked Oh, this guy's a LinkedIn expert doesn't have a lot of contacts.

That was my first first impression. Those contacts I'm guessing you selected each one specifically, and your criteria Are you for picking for connecting with them? What's your criteria?



You're absolutely right. And it's a great question, I have actually less than that. Some of them are followers who have less than 1000, real life connections if you'd like.

And for me, connection, or hitting accept is the end of a process. So if we had a meaningful conversation, then I would either accept the invitation or send one.

But if I'm asking myself, well, that person went asking, in two years time will remember anything from our conversation. And it naturally happens, you know, pre COVID.

If we work together, side by side, for some time, we had some mutual relationship that lasted who was significant enough? And instead of just saying, Wow, I'm, I'm hot and popular have 5k. Just ask yourself, are you translating those connections into business? Are you managing to transform those contacts into revenues?

And instead of chasing LinkedIn metrics, Chase real life metrics, revenues, orders, meetings, inquiries, because that's how a build is how businesses are built.


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How to Explain Your Complex Products  and Services: Steve Lowell

How to Explain Your Complex Products and Services: Steve Lowell

April 7, 2022

Demonstrate a unique understanding of your market

You don't have to be different from everyone who offers what you do. You simply need to appear to be different.

Steve Lowell explains how to apply Deep Thought Strategy to your marketing positioning and sales conversations to entice clients to buy from you.

Episode 89 (Steve is based in Ottawa, Canada)


In this discussion we explore:

  • How to get people to say, "Hmm, I've never thought of it that way before"
  • What can you learn from the tennis instructor's mistake and epiphany
  • Why the language of your offer is critical
  • How to reveal the hidden problem they weren't aware of
  • Why you don't want to be seen as an expert and what the better label is
  • How to address different target audiences while following the same path
  • What is the process of Deep Thought Strategy
  • Leveraging your book as a marketing tool

About Steve Lowell

Steve is the 2022 president of the Global Speakers Federation representing over 6,500 professional speaker s around the globe.

Steve Lowell CSP, has been speaking and performing on the live stage since the age of 6, that’s over 53 years ago.

Steve is the author of three books and five online courses.


If you are a non-fiction author and ready to leverage the power of your book, watch this eye-opening webinar "You're an Author... Now What?"

(no charge)


Excerpts from this conversation with Steve Lowell 


So it's a big process, I call it deep thought strategy. And we kind of look at it from this angle. The objective is to demonstrate a unique understanding of your market or prospects or audience's world from a perspective they have never considered before.

So the process starts with exploring not your solution. And not all the great things that you've created, but exploring the market and trying to find an angle that the market has not considered before.

And then what we do is we take the complex idea or solution and we break it down into its most basic components, and craft a very simple straightforward message that doesn't present another solution as much as it presents another problem.

So it's sort of the objective is to bring their awareness to a problem they never even knew they had, I'm talking about the audience or the prospect of the market.

And the desired outcome of this whole process is to get the market or the audience to kind of do this, you want them to go, Hmm, I've never thought of it like that before. And that's the desired outcome that we work towards.



The question is, "What is my unique understanding of your condition? From a perspective you have never considered before? How am I going to demonstrate that I know your condition better than you know your condition?"

You see, if I'm trying to sell you my complex idea, the worst thing I can do is try and sell you my complex idea.

What I need to do is I need to open your perspective, so that you understand that you need my complex idea.

I need you to tell me that you need my complex idea. If I sit here and try and convince you that you need my complex idea. I'm just another sales guy. And I look like everybody else.

So the question we work towards is, how am I going to demonstrate to you as my prospect? How am I going to demonstrate to you a unique understanding of your condition, from a perspective you have never considered before.

I want you to be able to go, I've never heard it like this before. No wonder I can't do that. No wonder I can't reach this outcome. And only until we achieve that, at that point, then my solution becomes relevant to you.

Up until that point, it doesn't, it's not even relevant. It's just you know, another checkmark on the shopping list and all of the different people you've seen in your life.

So that's it. That's a tough mindset shift to make sometimes.


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Executive Team Building: Anne Thornley-Brown

Executive Team Building: Anne Thornley-Brown

March 31, 2022

Build stronger teams that work in-person, virtually and hybrid

Effective teams face and overcome the challenges, while weak teams use the challenges as excuses

Anne Thornley-Brown explores the challenges and paths to effective team building. She reminds us that team members need the confidence to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

Episode 88 (Anne is based in Toronto, Canada)


In this discussion we explore:

  • The challenges of virtual and hybrid teams
  • The difference between socializing, recreation and enhancing communication skills
  • The silliness of some team-building exercises 
  • The danger of group think and dominating personalities
  • Why we need to listen to the minority viewpoints
  • The opportunities of new technology including virtual worlds
  • Why it's critical to diagnose the problem correctly before deciding on the solution
  • Who else should you include on your team that you might be missing?

About Anne Thornley-Brown

Anne is the founder and owner of Executive Oasis International.

This Toronto-based team-building firm has designed and facilitated executive retreats, meetings and team building for companies from 19 countries

She is also a professional actress, and an emerging novelist seeking a literary agent for her first two novels.

Anne and her team at Executive Oasis International help organizations build stronger teams around the world.

Learn more about the team building programs at



Excerpts from this conversations with Anne Thornley-Brown



Tell us what some of those challenges are, particularly during the pandemic.



Well, the biggest challenge, of course, is working from home. And, and building a cohesive unit, when you're not seeing each other face to face every day.

Silos were a problem long before the pandemic, but now that people are spread out and they're not engaging face to face, they becoming even more entrenched.



Have you (to overuse the word) pivoted your building exercises to include hybrid and virtual teams.



Absolutely, it was essential you and I both live, the Greater Toronto Area. And in Canada. For the past two years, we've had meeting bans, travel bans.

Some venues have had to close. I was speaking with one of the resorts that I've used, and we just came back out of another lockdown two weeks ago. And they just closed down because they couldn't open their dining or their meeting rooms.

So they rescheduled all of their corporate business. It became essential to make virtual and now hybrid options available to clients.



Those who are waiting to get back to normal before we start training again, or building the team, what's your advice to them?



Don't wait. And the other thing is don't think that throwing a recreational activity at your team is going to solve your issues of communication.

It's not going to happen. It's not going to resolve conflicts. I've seen companies doing things like ukulele lessons and virtual escape rooms.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm not a party pooper. I'm Jamaican. I love to party. I love to dance. I love to have fun. But there's a time and place.

And that type of activity, while it has its place is not a substitute for doing the targeted and focus work on building your teams.

I don't know, George, you go into corporations. Have you observed this tendency to? Well, how do they put it fiddle while Rome was burning?



Yeah, you're right. And and I'll tell you the one that the the activity that that irks me the most, it's we're going to have a team building exercise, and we're going to  go Axe Throwing,



And in wrapping up, if you could offer team leaders, one, two or three pieces of advice on what they can be doing right now, to reinforce their team, to keep their team cohesive. What might be that one, two or three pieces of advice.



One thing I would say is, I was I worked for an organization and the CEO was brilliant, he would have these things called breakfast with Bob, where he would bring frontline people in to have breakfast with him.

And he would listen to them. He would hear what they have to say about what was going on with their clients.

And in the industry. We can still do that virtually. I mean, let's get creative folks. Yes, we can have a virtual breakfast, where we meet via technology and tech, we can send the breakfast to the homes of the various team members.

In Ontario. we just opened up dining rooms two weeks ago, restaurants and caterers are hurting, they need the business to stay afloat. Let's get creative. And in that way, we will help keep the local economy afloat.

So that's the first thing have sessions in which your senior people are actually interfacing with your frontline people, but has to go further. We need to also hear from our clients.

We need sessions like that where clients are letting us know what their main concerns are, and how we can improve what we're offering. And the other piece is a whole supply chain.

That's one thing that COVID-19 has brought to the fore, not just for manufacturers, even for services supply chain is critical. We need to talk with our suppliers regularly.

And I do think that leaders would benefit from having some sessions where they include suppliers and clients. In fact, I have some clients who do that whenever they do team building, whether it's face to face hybrid or virtual.

They do invite some clients and they do invite some suppliers. And let me tell you, it makes a huge difference.


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The language of love, loss and compassion: Dr. Joseph Stern

The language of love, loss and compassion: Dr. Joseph Stern

March 24, 2022

When compassion is missing, what can you do?

Technical competency is not the same as compassion. Yet both are critical in healthcare.

Dr. Joseph Stern is a neurosurgeon who discovered that compassion was missing from healthcare, when his younger sister, Victoria, developed leukemia, had a bone marrow transplant and died.

Episode 87

In this conversation with Dr. Joseph Stern, we explore:

  • The importance of emotional agility
  • There's a time for compassion and a time for technical expertise
  • Understanding the patient's anxiety and terror
  • Developing shared vulnerability to communicate in an empathetic way
  • How routine can get in the way of connecting with people
  • Shifting from empathy to technical precision
  • Why it's critical for health care professionals to manager their own emotional care
  • Recognizing and removing the emotional armor

Dr. Joseph Stern is a neurosurgeon. He is the author of "Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon's Lessons on Love, Loss and Compassion.

You can find the book on Amazon or click the link here.



Excerpts from this conversation with Dr. Joseph Stern



So everything is about the focus on training and education as a neurosurgeon is about becoming technically proficient and mastering very difficult subject matter.

But we're working with people. And these people are generally terrified, and whether or not they're dying, they need a compassionate connection with their doctor.

And that's where I feel that in neurosurgery training, but particularly in medicine, I think we fall down on the job in terms of the importance of what it is to connect with patients and in with what they're going through.

So I feel that was what my sister brought, to me, it wasn't so much that I was that it's only when people are dying, it's that anyone who is getting medical care, is at a low point and needs a compassionate connection, you need to have shared vulnerability and an ability to communicate in an empathic way with patient.


You're a stronger, better person by allowing yourself to be vulnerable



I'm assuming that you have become a more compassionate doctor, more compassionate surgeon. What language Have you started to use more of that you didn't use before?



I think I listened more, I listened more and tried to talk less.

I sit and I give people time, and I want to hear what they are concerned about and what matters to them.

And so I feel that the meaningful relationships with patients are really what sustained me that actually, you know, by the time I'm fairly advanced, in my career, I've been doing a surgery for a long time, I liked doing surgery. But I also really like the the relationship, the trust that the patients put in me and kind of our relationship.

So I cultivate that. I also think that I'm not afraid to ask questions about what they're feeling or what their goals are, and what what it is that they're experiencing, what is it, they're worried about? What scares them?

So I think a lot of times in the past, I probably would have shut down a topic like that and moved on to a medical treatment or bombing people with facts.

I'm, I'm going to give them all the facts about their illness. And it's, in reality, they're multiple planes of communication are going on at the same time.

One is the fact information dump, you know, which a lot of times doctors do, but the other is like, what are you experiencing?

What are you taking away from this? What are your worries? What are your goals? What concerns you here?

And I think that those ability or willingness to get a little bit uncomfortable, maybe to cry, maybe two, but more to listen.



Well, we're looking at a time in healthcare where burnout is at very, very high rates.

And I believe that some of the reason for burnout is our we're not kind to ourselves, so there's no self compassion.

We don't we don't take time to make sure that we're okay. And because we push away the grief and these other experiences, we, it ends up being a very fragile relationship that we have that we have when we could really dig in and be more connected and get more pleasure and more value out of work.

And so I, I would urge them to make some of these transitions toward honest communication, really being in touch with their own emotional experiences not shying away from these connections and conversations, and, and the emotional agility part that you need to be a successful provider of healthcare.

You need to be able to have that connection and also have the technical expertise.

And if you can learn to bounce between those two, you're really going to be a very wonderful provider.


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Control your mind and emotions: Brad Yates

Control your mind and emotions: Brad Yates

March 17, 2022

What is EFT? Emotional Freedom Techniques. How might it help you?

You don't need to fear being trapped by your emotions. You can exert control.

Brad Yates walks us through understanding and using EFT, (also known as tapping) to relieve stress, build confidence and manage our personal energy.

Episode 86 (Brad is from California)

In this conversation with Brad Yates we explore:

  • How not to feel trapped by our emotions
  • How to build a better understanding and control of our emotions
  • What is tapping, (EFT) and how might you start using it for your benefit?
  • How does tapping leverage our understanding of acupuncture?
  • How might tapping encourage positive self talk?
  • What is the science that supports Emotional Freedom Techniques?
  • What is the connection with self hypnosis, rhythm and sensory feedback?
  • How might you start tapping with Brad? (no obligation and no charge)

Who is Brad Yates and what has he done?

Brad Yates is known internationally for his creative and often humorous use of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

He has also been a presenter at a number of events, including Jack Canfield's Breakthrough to Success, has done teleseminars with “The Secret” stars Bob Doyle and Dr. Joe Vitale, and has been heard internationally on a number of internet radio talk shows. 

There are over 1,000 videos on his YouTube, that have been viewed over 36 million times. 

Invited by Jack Canfield to speak at his Breakthrough to Success event. Featured speaker on all 14 Tapping World Summits  Graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. 

Visit his website


Excerpts from this conversation with Brad Yates


It helps us control our mind and our emotions. Because so often those run away and we feel like we're at the mercy of our emotions. And that's why we have EFT, which is short for Emotional Freedom Techniques.

It's a simple mind body technique for giving us more freedom in terms of our emotions, rather than being trapped by the discomfort of fear, anger, sadness, and these all these natural emotions, but that sometimes we get sucked into and really limits the quality of our lives.

Now, that's curious. If I'm hearing that, right, you're saying that we can become captive, or a slave to our emotions and and perhaps we need to be a little bit more free from some of the emotions. It's not that we make the emotions go away, we just need to be in better control.



Brad, so the tapping is tapping with your finger on parts of your body. And you were just tapping on your, your face there in two or three places. And, and it was it's about one tap a second, roughly.

And while you're talking so I'm curious, is it the tapping that on the spot? Or is it is it a way of self hypnotism?

There are, there are similarities. I started out as hypnotherapist before getting into this. You know, after being a clown, and, and an actor, I'm not a doctor, but I played one on TV.

But there are there have been studies done to show that the tapping is an active part of the process.

So and you can actually tap without saying any words and you will calm down, it will down regulate your stress, even without the words now adding in the words and particular using affirmations using hypnotic language using cognitive behavioural therapy.

There's different ways of using wording, even NLP that can then help that process.

So you're getting the benefits of the the physical downregulation of stress with the tapping along with the mindset training at the same time is is then the the chief result of the tapping a reduction in stress.

Yes, that's the most the most obvious one. And so when you look at when you consider that most if not all of the issues that trouble us, both physically and emotionally, are either caused by or worsened by stress, then you'll see why a stress relief tool like this can be so helpful in so many different areas of life, including our physical well being our emotional well being and even our behaviour and our attempts to be more successful.

Because we then have that freedom to do things that we were afraid to do before. Alright, so let's, let's take a look at and how this works.

And here I am listening and looking at you and I'm thinking okay, my first thought is just sounds a little weird. And in so how do we get past that obstacle? How do we get past that brand?

Yeah, absolutely. George and I totally understand anyone who's there at that. I have introduced this to a lot of people and and sometimes people will be almost violent in their reactions.

Like this is the stupidest thing. I'll get comments on YouTube from people you know, saying things like that.

And then I'll often get comments from people later saying, I thought this was so stupid and now I am so grateful that I have this process. So there is that that resistance.

And as mentioned, I went to clown college. So when I learned this, this was not the strangest thing I've ever done, so I had an easier time.

But for the rest of you who didn't have the advantage of going to clown College, again, there's a lot of this growing body of scientific evidence validating it.

We have people from all walks of life using it, you there, there's video of Olympic athletes using it before their performance. I've worked with Olympic athletes worked with lawyers, doctors, award winning actors. So lots of people are using this.

So it's not just a lunatic fringe that's using a lot of people that you look up to people that you know, are you this is their secret weapon for feeling better, doing better and living better.

And again, a lot of people just say, look at acupuncture and say, oh, yeah, no, I understand acupuncture. That doesn't look weird. It's just the same thing without the needles. So for a lot of people, it should be, oh, it's acupuncture, but without having to use needles. 


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