My sister, Nina Cortell, and I on my LAST day of chemo (in 2012) followed by a pink manicure!
This post is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“You’re a poster child for mammograms,” the radiation oncologist said to me.
“Why?”, I asked, from my seat in his bad-aqua blue treatment room.
“Because you found your breast cancer early. You’re going to be okay.”
Eleven years ago I walked into that regular annual mammogram looking pretty good and feeling great. Nine months later – after a lumpectomy, 16 weeks of chemotherapy, 33 radiation treatments, and 101 doctor visits – I walked out of that bad-aqua blue treatment room bald, tired and puffy.
Here’s what I have come to know
Embrace “Normal”. It’s not about how much money you make, or how many trips you take, or how many clients you have. It’s about being able to get up in the morning and having the luxury to do whatever is on your schedule. You get to enjoy a normal day.
Find the humor. I tell my clients that the definition of humor is Tragedy + Time. When I found out I was going to have chemo, I cried. Then, later, I had to chuckle. I told my husband, Jimmy, “I always thought I’d sleep with someone who’s bald, I just never thought it would be me.”
Maintain best practices around exercise and diet. If you’re in good shape you’re ahead of the curve when you get a challenging diagnosis.
Nurture your support system. My family and friends made all the difference.
Speaking professionally and personally – here are 8 communication tips to help you interact with your colleagues, clients and friends who are dealing with medical challenges like breast cancer.
Do stay in touch with someone who’s going through a health issue – emails, texts, phone messages – all are great.
Do NOT ask the person who’s sick to return your call or electronic message. That’s a burden.
Do say or text, “You do not have to return this call/text/email.”
Do NOT ask, “What can I do to help you?” Again, this is a burden.
Do something that you would like someone to do for you. Options: mail a fun card (appreciated and unobtrusive), meet for a walk, wash her car, make a meal, walk the dog, drive him to a doctor appointment, bring lunch, take her to a manicure place, or make a donation in his honor. And, do tell her that she doesn’t have to write you a thank you note.
Do NOT use social media as a place to share your concern unless invited. This can be a major breach of privacy.
Do NOT talk about your own experiences (or the medical outcome from your brother-in-law’s mother’s aunt…) with this type of illness. You are there to hear your friend’s story, she is NOT there to hear yours.
Do listen, if he wants to talk. That’s right. Just listen. Biggest gift of all.
These tips worked for me, and I hope you will use them as guidelines for you.
My annual mammogram saved my life.
Who wants to be a poster child?
But it sure beats the alternative.
PS: Please do your annual mammogram/PSA/whatever test(s)!
PS: Write in comments below of other ways you’ve been helpful to others in a health crisis.
The 2023 Tony Awards may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration for your boardroom discussions, but this Broadway awards show offers valuable insights into effective communication strategies. So, grab your top hats as we tap dance into this unexpected connection!
The opening act
The seamless synergy of Ariana DeBose, the host this year, without a script, creates a show-stopping, fun and fabulous start to the evening. She demonstrates the power of teamwork and collaboration.
🎩 Tip: As C-Suite execs, fostering effective teamwork among your leadership team is essential for driving success + innovation within your organization.
Some (!) of the acceptance speeches
The best speeches conveyed, within 3 minutes, their heartfelt story with humor.
🎩 Tip: As busy executives, mastering the art of brevity is crucial. Communicate your ideas succinctly and engagingly to resonate with your team, investors, and stakeholders.
The dance performances
The choreography showcased the power of nonverbal communication.
🎩 Tip: Just as actors conveyed emotions without uttering a word, mastering nonverbal cues enhances your executive presence. Pay attention to posture, gestures, and facial expressions to strengthen your impact in the boardroom.
And the 2023 Communication Tony Award goes to…
Valuable Lessons for C-Suite Executives.
🎩 Tip: Foster teamwork, embrace brevity and humor, master nonverbal cues, and tell your story to elevate your communication strategies.
Take center stage, command the boardroom with confidence, and let the spotlight shine on your exceptional skills. Bravo!
With 4 days left of this year it’s time to devour our best-of list – guaranteed to boost your communication skills even more in ’23.
◉ Find the humor. Even during drama-filled situations – funny stuff happens. Use this material in your conversations/presentations.
◉ Ask questions. You will be forced to listen more and you’ll learn more than if you’re doing all the talking.
◉ Read more. Fiction or non-fiction – you’ll gain insights and become even more articulate. Even a trashy novel can provide examples of how to use dialog, plot development, what makes for a good or dumb story.
◉ Reflect on your positive communication experiences in ’22. You do a great job of remembering in exquisite detail when you think you’ve failed at running that meeting, or facilitating the board discussion, or giving a speech to your shareholders. Think back on when you rocked on your platform(s). Not only will this make you feel great – but it has a positive rollover effect on your future gigs.
◉ Write more. I began writing this weekly blog years ago – kicking and screaming. I did not want to add this task into my weekly regimen. Now I realize it’s been one of my best communication habits. Writing makes you a better communicator. I am forced to observe with purpose… all the time… constantly mining for good info and stories. My friends live in fear of when they’ll be quoted here!
🥂 🎉 Thank YOU for being blog post readers and happy / healthy new year! 🥂 🎉
Stuff happens… as a speaker, leader, and ranch owner. It’s all about damage control.
Jimmy, my Handsome Cowboy Husband, finds this snake last week at our ranch. Did I hear you say “amen” that I am NOT the discoverer? 😱
The best thing I never wanted
For over a decade this confirmed urban girl has loved our ranch, 100 miles west of Dallas, as a weekend getaway. I work with clients, do strategic retreats and hang out with family and friends. But that does not include snakes.
Where are your snakes?
Speaker snakebites & remedies
Technology: No matter how your computer, ppt, house sound, videos and mic work during your pre-show run, tech problems can bite you. In fact, one time someone stole my computer during a break.
Tech Remedies: 1) bring a backup on a thumb drive 2) be able to speak without ppt (often a better approach anyway) and 3) always appreciate and become buddies with your A/V team.
Logistics: Ever show up at the wrong hotel, wrong date, or even the wrong city for your gig? This all happened recently (!) but, fortunately, not to me. Virtually … Wi-Fi issues, lighting, and background distractions can rattle you.
Logistic Remedies: 1) double check all the logistic details 2) get to the venue early 3) do an online rehearsal for virtual events.
Current events: Ummm… the pandemic, for starters. Travel nightmares. Weather fluctuations.
Current events Remedies: Be flexible. Find the humor. Add in more time for travel.
Business leader snakebites & solutions: stay tuned for my next post.
What happened to the snake?
#HandsomeCowboyHusband saved the bull snake (not poisonous) and it’s back in our Garden of Eden. 🍎
He posted the snake pic on Facebook. It went viral. Many commented “OMG” with a variety of emojis. Best responses….
3rd place: “How about a new snakeskin purse?”
2nd place: “And that’s why you keep the lid down… always!”
THE WINNER, from Dr. Mark Mason: “WHAT HAS KAREN BEEN EATING?”
In order to communicate with power and presence as a speaker and business leader you must expect the unexpected.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate & sell. She lives in Dallas, TX and stays at Star Ranch on most weekends, where she will now always inspect the toilet first. 🐍
Thank you to Robin Sachs for this week’s blog inspiration.
Loved my outfit I wore last week when I gave my Einstein keynote in Portland… until I saw the side profile pics. You tell me… better yet, don’t tell me.
At another recent communication presentation I was asked, “What’re your tips on using humor?” Read on.
Why using humor is a good thing
A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained.
Humor reduces tension and increases retention.
Everyone wants/needs to laugh.
Humor Do Not’s
Don’t use jokes. You will alienate someone. Jokes poke fun at a social group, a political party, a gender, a college, a religion… Not good.
Don’t use funny quips or cartoons you find online. First – the copyright issues. Second – NOT original. If you see this online then so did 10,000 others.
🙄 🙄 🙄
Your safest bet is to use material about yourself. Keep a log of your own crazy mishaps. Then figure out how to fold your own stories into material that can be relevant to your audience.
Humor = Tragedy + Time
What are you crying about today… that you will laugh about tomorrow? (Well, maybe not the very next day… but with the buffer of time.)
EX: I cried after I found out that I would need a bunch of chemo due to a breast cancer diagnosis 10 years ago. … Time went by. … Then I told my husband, “Jimmy – I’d always thought I’d sleep with someone bald, I just didn’t think it would be me.”
😬 😬 😬
Your Humor Challenge
Observe with purpose.
Find the funny stuff around you. Write it down. Keep a log.
Use these personal stories to support your content.
Ok – the pics from my Portland, Oregon keynote. I don’t think my butt looks big, but do I look fat? Don’t answer that question – it’s a lose – lose proposition.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and just discovered that the spell checker on her Word software has been somehow reset for Brazil and it wants to change the spelling of this entire blog. You cannot make this stuff up! And it’s going to get used somewhere in Karen’s workshop tomorrow for a new client.
PS: Thank you to Linda Cohen, my friend & colleague, for attending my presentation in Portland, OR and taking these photos!
“Let me say something as an objective observer: It’s never OK to punch a comedian.” – Stephen Colbert.
Colbert refers here to Sunday’s big slap at the Oscars when Will Smith strode onstage out of anger at Chris Rock’s joke centered on Jada Pinkett Smith.
Your Checklist: How do you communicate anger in a productive way?
Vent to a trusted friend.
Yell … in an empty room – get it out.
Go exercise or take a walk.
Listen nonjudgmentally (hard to do).
Check your perspective.
Change the paradigm.
Don’t punch anyone.
How do you do damage control if anger has escalated?
Apologize with sincerity.
Ask for forgiveness.
Use humor, if possible.
Figure out the source of your frustration.
Understand that you are part of the problem and solution.
Anger can be a good thing
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anger can give you a way to express negative feelings or motivate you to find solutions to problems. But, the APA states, “excessive anger can cause problems”.
Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.
Back to the Oscars… “If you really want to hurt a comedian, don’t laugh. That hurts more than a punch, I promise you.” Stephen Colbert
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and got 18 out of 18 correct on her Oscar Ballot, co-created with Marvin Blum, her Oscar Ballot Partner for over 4 decades!!!