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Your 7 Favorite Stories of 2017

Dear Friend,

As we come to the end of the year, I thank you for reading and being a part of this community of thousands of leaders and high achievers from around the world. I am grateful for your support, your ideas and your feedback throughout the year. We help one another grow and develop personally and professionally.

Today, I offer the stories you read most, liked best and shared most frequently during 2017. I've included a taste; click Read More for the whole story.

I wish you Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas and great happiness and success in 2018.

John

1) How to Stay Calm Under Stress
All of us have issues, concerns or people who push our buttons. Especially people. They create an emotional response that can send us over the edge. We might respond with anger, defensiveness, disgust or hurt.

These are normal human reactions, but when you're giving a presentation or doing a media interview – something where your reactions are on display – it's important to control your response. Read More
 
2) 7 Ways to Organize Your Presentation
A lack of clear organization in a talk is a problem that plagues presenters in organizations everywhere. It drains productivity in meetings and causes deep employee frustration and resentment. I urge my clients to follow a simple process of using a whiteboard, flow chart or legal pad to mind map their major idea or argument with all the supporting points and evidence.
 
Once you have all of that in front of you, find patterns that emerge to cluster information and organize your talk and potential slides around the key messages that emerge. To help you in building your presentation, here are seven of the best strategies for organizing your talk. Read More
 
3) Why I Write and You Should, Too
This week marks two years that I’ve published these articles every Sunday. I appreciate your support and thought it would be worth sharing why I write. But first, let me share with you the exact moment decades ago that my attitude about writing — and my life — changed forever.
 
I was raised by a hard-working single mother and started life in the housing projects of Philadelphia. We moved to California when I was eight and though our quality of life improved, I was never motivated by anyone to achieve academically. It was mostly C’s and D’s in my early life.
 
So, when I signed up for a journalism class in my junior year at Hawthorne High School (where the Beach Boys had graduated years earlier), I had no particular intentions. But something startling happened. My teacher, Konnie Krislock, dropped my first draft of a news story on my desk with this handwritten at the top: “Great work! A+” and she said, “You’re a great writer.”
Read More
 
4) Less is More in Presentations
It’s estimated that we are exposed to some 5,000 marketing messages a day. Our phones constantly beg for attention. We have endless emails, texts and social notifications…
 
All of this distraction means it’s more important than ever that we focus our messages to be as clear and concise as possible. As subject matter experts, our biggest job isn’t knowing what to say, it’s knowing what not to say. We have an obligation to cut the clutter and focus on what people really need to know. Read More
 
5) Are You Coachable?
To change, we need to leave our comfort zones. All of our personal growth happens outside of our comfort zones. If it were easy to change, we would all do it right away. We wouldn’t need coaching. We’d see our own blind spots and change.
 
But it doesn’t work that way. I’ve learned over the years that until someone recognizes the need there will be no movement.
 
This is true in all aspects of human behavior. We see it all the time, in common areas, like behavior toward others, weight loss, social anxiety, smoking, even smartphone addiction. Until people see the issue and ask for help, they are unlikely to change. Read More
 
6) How to Control Your Ego
Excerpt: If you overhear someone talking about a person’s ego, you can be sure it’s not positive. You never hear, “I love the ego Bob brings to his work!” More likely you’ll hear: “Phil’s got a huge ego!” “Pam’s ego is out of control!” “Cameron’s an ego maniac!”
 
It’s unfortunate that egos have such a negative reputation because a healthy ego can drive ambition, creativity and accomplishment. Cambridge Dictionary defines ego simply as, “The idea or opinion that you have of yourself, especially the level of your ability and intelligence, and your importance as a person.” Read More
 
7) Your Most Important Communication Skill is Listening
Excerpt: When I say “your most important communication skill,” you might think: public speaking, handling questions, or reading people. That’s because we normally think of communication as outgoing. We think that if we’re transmitting we must be communicating.
 
That leads to people speaking at one another instead of really listening. It’s become the hallmark of our current social and political environment that people spend a lot more time shouting at one another than listening. It turns out that two monologues, however loud and impassioned, do not equal a dialogue. Read More
 

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Photo by Adam Whitlock on Unsplash