How to Write a Killer LinkedIn Recommendation

I have to admit that I have neglected LinkedIn for a long time. Although I hopped on its platform years ago, most of my social time and energy went to the more playful and engaging sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

And then the light bulb went off.

It happened one morning while I was watching CNBC’s Squawk Box when I heard Joe and Becky singing their praises about LinkedIn. They said that, although LinkedIn wasn’t as sexy as the other social sites, it was the “go-to” place for serious professionals and business owners (and motivational and business speakers). Its core users are those who wanted to make strategic connections and grow their brands.

With more than 350 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Business owners and career professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at an astounding rate of more than 2.5 new members per second. And that’s just the beginning of LinkedIn’s potential.

After hearing all that, I got serious about LinkedIn!

One of the areas that I truly love on LinkedIn is the Recommendations Section. It’s the place where you get to leave a recommendation for your connections, who are friends, colleagues, vendors, customers, and even ex-customers. Now, to be clear, I am not talking about the skills endorsement section where you just click on skills that LinkedIn suggests. To me that whole concept seems so fake, but that’s another blog post.

I am talking about the area where you get to actually write out a more in-depth and thoughtful recommendation for your connections. Posting a recommendation on LinkedIn is so much easier than sending a letter, and much more visible and permanent than an email as it will be there on their LinkedIn site forever. Now, that’s powerful!

Everyone wins.

Writing a recommendation for others has benefits not only to the person whom you are honoring, but it is also a light that reflects on you as the writer. When you write a thoughtful recommendation, it tells the reader who you are in addition to the person you are praising. It can give us a peek into your personality, humanity, and your style.

Here are some tips on how to write a great LinkedIn recommendation (watch the video for examples):



  1. Start with a killer first line that is authentic and memorable.
  2. Describe your relationship—tell us how you know the person.
  3. Share how their behavior, actions, or contributions helped you.
  4. Try to give an example of how they empowered their client, team, or organization.
  5. End with a note about the personal aspect of working with him/her.

Oh, one more thing.

When you ask for a recommendation, make sure that you only ask people you know. Also make sure that you have a comfortable enough relationship with them to ask them to recommend you. Just because you are connected on LinkedIn or are Facebook buddies does not mean that they are informed enough to comment on your body of work. When I get requests from people I do not know, it is uncomfortable and a bit awkward.

If you get in the habit of writing one or two recommendations a week, you will find that you do not have to ask for recommendations. I call it the act of reciprocity. When people see that I have written a killer recommendation praising their professional talents, they more than likely will return the favor.

What are you waiting for? Start writing!

Millennials Today — The New Workforce

I have been presenting keynotes on Millennials and the generations in the workplace for nearly 10 years now. I can remember back in 2008 when there were just a handful of Millennials in the audience. Today, my audiences are filled with professionals aged 36 and under, while the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to increase.

This “New Workforce” is close to half of the US workforce and they are shaking things up and changing the world of work. It is important that we understand this dynamic group and move forward. We are discovering that Millennials are seeking a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are definitely impatient and want to proceed along their career paths more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers.

What motivates Millennials?

To understand what motivates Millennials and how to work with and manage them, you need to consider what they value:

  • Challenge – they want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that care about the outcome, embraces complexity. One of their biggest complaints is they are bored and feel underutilized. They do not want to do the smaller tasks, after all that’s why we have interns.
  • Learning – they want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their careers quickly.
  • Career goals – they want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.
  • Feedback – Millennials want feedback on how they are doing. They want to hear it often and it does not have to be in a formal setting. The annual review won’t cut it with the new workforce.
  • Flexibility 24/7 – Technology makes it possible to work from anywhere, anytime. Therefore, Millennials expect some level of flexibility at work. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, but Millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules.
  • Tap into Social Platforms – Millennials are social beings; use social platforms to grow your organization’s employee brand.
  • Results Oriented Flexibility – evaluate Millennials on their finished work; not on how, when, or where the work is done.
  • Transparency – Millennials want to know how their performance will be measured. They like structures and systems, and they want to understand by what metrics they will be judged.
  • Access – they want open and constant communication from their boss (and their boss’ boss, and so on)
  • Social Interaction – Millennials want to have friends at work, and they want the workplace to be a pleasant and social place. They prefer to work on teams rather than as individuals. So, If you are excited because you have one Millennial on your team, wake up! They may not be there next month.
  • They want to do something that matters – Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.

Millennials Celebrate Uniqueness

Millennials’ parents told them they were special, and they believed it! It’s important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness.

Millennials in Today's Workforce

Millennials in Today’s Workforce

Millennials tend not to look at their first job as their final career. Many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends” and aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennial has a self-centered work ethic and is in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization. Take the time to show them a career path. Open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments.

The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift. It must bend to accommodate the Millennial mindset. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Millennials have the ability to transform the disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers and marketers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs.

Are you up for the challenge?

Bored with Myself! Time to Let It Go

Do you ever get bored with YOURSELF? I was, and I decided it was time to “Let It Go” and to make some changes in my keynotes presentations and also in my day to day routine. Actually, I didn’t even know I was bored with myself until I attended  a keynote workshop in Denver. It was three days, working on our content and stories. Throughout those three days, I explored several opportunities for a fresh start by letting go of  bits, stories, and phrases in my keynotes.

Photo: Shutterstock

As 2017 approached, I continued this idea of letting go, and uncovered several habits that I have decided to STOP doing and shake things up. Here are a few things I have decided to leave behind as I keep on my mission to better myself, be more productive, and become happier in 2017.

  1. STOP SITTING ALL DAY!STOP SITTING all day and get up and moving! Because I work from my home I get to sit a lot! There are many days I start working at 8:00 a.m. and stay put in my chair until I get hungry and head to the kitchen. Recently, I read a fellow speaker, Audrey Thomas’s, blog called “Sit Less and Get More Done” and discovered that I can work standing in my kitchen! So now I stand an hour or two a day, but not all day. Research at the Texas A&M shows that productivity increases when people have the ability to sit and stand throughout the work day, and by trial and error they figure out what combination works best for them.
  2. STOP TALKING so much and start listening. A few weeks ago I had lunch with a close speakerStop Talking! friend, Crystal Washington. I was so excited to see her and tell her all the things I was doing! When I finally stopped talking and listened to Crystal, I actually started taking notes. When she shared her perspective on the business and things she was adding to her plan, I realized that she comes at things from a different perspective and her ideas are FRESH and unique from mine. She invigorated me and put some ideas into my mind which leads me to my next item.
  3. STOP HANGING OUT with people just like me. Look around at who you hang out with… do they STOP HANGING OUT!think just like you? I know it feels good to be with those people who are like you. They share the same beliefs on politics, listen to the same music – They nod when you are talking; they smile as they agree hearing your views. BUT!!! Here comes the big BUT: you will stagnate in this environment. Spending most of your time with people like you prevents growth and new ideas. Seek out people different from yourself and develop a growth mindset. And while you’re at it- try listening to news from a different viewpoint-
  4. STOP SLEEPING WITH THE PHONE charging on the bed stand.
    STOP SLEEPING WITH THE PHONE!Ouch!!! This one is hard. I had to get out my old clock radio. Here’s the issue. I hear the phone all night while I am sleeping. Ping, Ping, Ping and, if I have to get up at 2, 3, or 4 a.m., I immediately check my phone to see who texted me or sent an email. It’s crazy. Then my mind is turned on when it really needs to rest and turn off. Sleep is important- and getting a good night’s sleep where our bodies can restore it critical to our mental and physical health.  I took Simon Synek’s advice, and I now charge my phone in the kitchen and I am sleeping much better!
  5. STOP SAYING “YES” when I want to say “NO” (Justin Beiber says it all). STOP SAYING “YES” when I want to say “NO”I am going to limit my yeses to things I really want to do, and just say, “No, I can’t help you with that one.” This is the year I begin to do a better job with the things I actually want to do and honor those commitments by doing a great job. When my plate is full of too many yeses, I find that I do a less than stellar job on each undertaking.

We all have habits sometimes called our addictions in our day-to-day routine that may be getting in the way of achieving our goals and happiness. Maybe the challenges I am committed to stop doing are not your issues. But take a moment to do a self-assessment and come up with three to five things you are going to do differently this year, and as the wise Elsa once said—“Let it go!”

Listen Up – Listening Creates Understanding

As a professional speaker  my job requires a lot of listening. I have to listen to the needs of the client before I can create the presentation. Because I spend most of my stage time talking I have had to work on and improve my listening skills.. I get paid to talk but  I am a much better speaker when I open my ears and my mind, receive and listen.  The ability to read your audience depends on your ability to listen with both your eyes and ears. Many times I must shift my content to fit the needs of the audience in front of me.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”–Peter Drucker

Listening creates understanding—it helps get things done correctly; it’s part of learning, and it shows others that we value them. Listening deepens relationships and grows trust and appreciation. So we get that listening is important, but how much time do we actually put into improving our listening skills? We spend 60% of our time listening but we only retain 25%.  Most workplace and life mistakes happen because someone isn’t listening.

Many of us don’t consciously realize that listening is a critical component in the communications loop. We think listening just happens, and that we don’t need to make an effort to effectively hear what people are saying because we have ears for that. Active listening takes a little practice! If we are to learn from others, we need to optimize our communication skills by effectively closing the conversation loop, and to do that we need to improve our listening skills.

Here are some tips to elevate your listening experience:

  1. Stop talking. You can’t multitask speaking and listening. It’s impossible. When you are talking, you are not listening. And this also applies to that little voice talking inside your head. (I know for a fact that we women have more than one voice inside our head—we have an entire committee chatting it up!) Consequently, Rule #1 is to “Stop the Talking!”
  2. Look at the person who is talking, pay attention and receive their message. Take time to notice their facial expressions and their body language. We gather more information from non-verbal signs and tone of voice than we do from a person’s actual words. Active listening requires an understanding of what someone is saying with their gestures, eye contact, and tone of voice as well as their words.
  3. Focus and eliminate distractions. Turn off the phone  or  TV, and put down that iPad. When you interrupt someone to check your messages, you are sending a signal that you are not interested in what they have to say. Try to create an environment in which you can listen without distractions and think clearly about the input and ideas of others.
  4. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t jump to conclusions, or react before the speaker has had a chance to express himself/herself. Don’t try to solve the problem before they have completed presenting their issue.
  5. Be polite. Don’t finish the other person’s sentences. Wait until the speaker is finished talking before deciding if you agree or disagree. Don’t try to solve the problem or come up with the answer while the speaker is still talking.
  6. Ask good questions. Learn how to create thought-provoking conversations. Ask meaningful questions that get to the heart of the matter. A good question gets the speaker to think more deeply and perhaps expand the conversation.
  7. Ask for feedback on your ideas. The opportunity to give and receive feedback allows us to give guidance and make adjustments. Feedback helps make sure that all parties are hearing the same message, and it lessens miscommunication.
  8. Repeat what people say and summarize. Offering a comment like, “Let me be sure I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying that …?” or you may say,  “So you are thinking” – This helps to prevent misunderstandings and shows that you are really listening
  9. Avoid contradicting, offering suggestions, and offering your personal affirmations while the speaker is speaking. Let them talk without your interruptions or side remarks.
  10. Practice all of the above!

Practicing active listening skills will transform your interaction with others. Listening helps generate solutions, stimulates creativity, encourages collaboration, and enriches your business and social connections. By honoring others with your time and attention, you’ll energize conversations and come up with ideas and solutions that you’d never find on your own.

How I Stay Focused and Productive

I admit I feel sure that I have a touch of ADHD…I never officially got tested but I do get distracted  and lose focus easily. I get a lot of ideas all at once (like now when I am writing this and have an urge to look at shoes on Zappos) and I have to stop and refocus on the task at hand. The idea that I have ADD didn’t really even occur to me back when I was running my retail stores. Retail is totally an “ADD friendly” business – always having interruptions, people in and out, calls… actually it was a great place for someone like me.  But …when I became a speaker and started working out of my home office I began to notice my little lack of concentration quirks.

Being a solopreneur and working out of my home office can have its challenges. I am my own boss, manager and motivator and I have discovered that I need structure and rituals in my day if I am going to be successful. Structure is something that I naturally resisted (ENFP) but through practice and the desire to succeed it has become my good friend.

So here are some of the things/rituals that I do stay focused and productive.

1. I plan my day the night before. I use to plan early in the morning, but I discovered that I am more productive if my mornings are free to work out. See #8

2. In my PM planning I begin with the top two or three must do’s (commitments) that no matter what, I will get them accomplished that day.

3.  I include people in my daily plan…people that I need to reconnect with to keep the relationship alive, and people that I need to connect with because I am waiting on them either for information or as a follow-up.

4. I have an ongoing list of 3 projects (website redo, write book, create an online course, write a blog post) that I continually chip away.

5. When I am working at my desk I cut out all distractions. I turn off my email, and pings from social media.

6. I have discovered the site and I set the timer for 90 minutes of classical music. It keeps me focused and I work faster and better when the music is on. I love it and I really focus.

7. I work at my desk writing or doing clerical work for 90 minutes at a time and then I take off 10 minutes and do something unrelated to work (throw in a load of clothes or empty the dishwasher) and then hit it for another 90. I learned this trick from Jim Loehr early in my speaking career. I read his book The Power of Full Engagement and it changed my life and how I look at time management.  It’s well worth  the read.

8. I discovered that exercise and dance have increased my energy levels and I am more productive when I hit the gym. Because I work alone I enjoy working out in classes with people who I greet and chat a bit before and after the class. It energizes me and I alternate between yoga classes, Zumba, a step class, and body- pump every day that I am in town.  I go early in the morning and then again if possible at 5:30 in the afternoon. I cannot tell you how good I feel and how my energy level has advanced. I believe that the yoga/meditation has really played a huge role in my ability to focus.

9.  Dr Phil once said you can’t claim it if you don’t name it.  I try and do all my clerical work on Mondays (Money Mondays) and my creative writing on Thursdays (Text Thursdays).  I like naming the days- it helps my stay on track…I have a VA and I have her doing all the follow-ups up “Follow-up Wednesday”.

10. Recently a friend told me about the Five Minute Journal, just five minutes a day made Tim Ferris happier , so I ordered one. I have been writing in it for almost a month and actually I enjoy it, and I am focusing on personal growth. It’s not hard to do and it actually takes me less than five minutes. It’s gratitude/affirmation/reflection journal.  The question that gets me thinking and is actually making a difference is, “How could I have made today even better?”

So there you have it! Please comment and give us all your tips on staying focused  and productive.

How to Make Your Brain Smarter!

One of the great perks in being a professional speaker is that I do get to hear mind –blowing presentations. Last week I had the privilege of listening to Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas discussing how to make your brain smarter. Dr. Chapman shared her knowledge on brain health and how we can improve it. It turns out we can actually make our brains even smarter than they are right now. She calls it “Turbo-Charging” your brain.”

Our IQ is not a fixed number.

She opened her keynote saying that our IQ is not a fixed number and “yes we can” get smarter by engaging our brain’s frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is the decision making, planning, and problem solving section of the brain and…the frontal lobe the last part of the brain to fully develop (by age25) and the first to decline (age 40).

That makes sense.

I recently read that teens do some crazy things in their lives because their frontal lobes are not fully connected but I had no idea our brains started to decrease so soon- 40 seems too young to be on the decline! The good news according to the Doctor is that we cannot only stop the decline but we can actually reverse it! Halleluiah!!!


Here are her suggestions to help increase blood flow and connectivity in our brains and turbocharging our brain!

  • Think single task – focus only at the task at hand – with no distractions. That means that multi-tasking is actually making us dumber. Research now shows that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking splits the brain and our brain jumps from one task to another diminishing the focus. It creates something researchers have called “spotlights”. When we multitask it’s like we are actually getting dumber and making more mistakes.
  • Look at your to-do list and think of the two most important tasks that are most important and spend your prime time doing- and do them.                                 “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted casing rabbits, rabbits take all our day away”Dr. ChapmanI have heard to only have 5 items on your to do lists…two is so minimal but if it increases my blood flow I am on it.
  • Think deep – most transformative – power of deep – is to synthesize constantly- take information from all sources abstract and concrete ideas, talk shows, conversation – get off of automatic pilot, and talk about your ideas with others. It’s in the sharing of ideas that our brains dance. She said that people that stay home and do crosswords alone every day are not helping their brains.
  • Brains power of less – our brains need to rest. Constant stimulation makes us dumber and reduces the flow of blood. Dr. Chapman said that airplanes are a great place to rest vs. work. She suggested that we take time to rest our brains rather than constantly be filling them with data, crosswords, or even sudoku
  • Detox distractions. Every time we look at an email or text while working we actually get dumber, and slower and make more mistakes… It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get back into the groove when you are busy working .
  • And then take a break every 90 minutes and give your brain a rest. Go and do something mindless… don’t take a break and read… let your mind rest and let the blood flow! The brain need down time, for aha moments
  • Finally, she reminded us the importance of good eating, sleeping and exercise – I found this interesting. Dr. Chapman said we need at least 7 hrs of sleep because our brains kick in and unload between the 6th and 8th hour of sleep.

So there you have it. I have to unlearn things I was sure I was doing to make my brain smarter. I am thinking… well, I’m  actually unthinking how I do things because I want to be smarter next year!