Maureen Taylor

Co-Founder, CEO of SNP Communications

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The Power of Nice

The powerful kind of nice isn’t touchy-feely, or disingenuous. It is responsible. And it’s a discipline, because it takes effort: most of us think about ourselves more than anybody else.

The intent to be nice has to be real, even if it is a pain in the butt.

The other day, a customer told our new employee that he could choose whether or not to drive to their location (50 minutes away, rush-hour traffic, on a Friday). So he asked me if he should go and I told him:

“Don’t go if it’s going to kill you. But it’d really be nice if you did go down. Part of being remarkable is choosing to do what you don’t have to do.”

So he went, met with the customer, and came back walking two feet off of the ground because of how pleased they were with him.

They didn’t expect him to be there. It wasn’t required. It was just plain nice.

Most importantly, he did it without being bitter. Because you...

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The Importance of Reinvention

Change is a constant of life; purposeful change is reinvention; and reinvention is a tried and true habit for improving self worth.

There are numerous ways to reinvent yourself: professionally, personally, politically, religiously…Think of the transition to parenthood, or a promotion at work. Moving from one set of responsibilities to another is always an opportunity for reinvention.

One reinvention of mine occurred when I quit smoking…I was 27, and I realized I wasn’t leading the life I wanted to. But instead of wearing a patch or chewing gum, I chose to start training for a marathon.

This is one crucial aspect of reinvention: It works best when you trade out one habit that’s holding you back with another that pushes you forward

There were difficult moments when my focus wavered, but after I crossed that finish line I felt amazing for the next 6 months. Believe me, if the...

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Life Balance

Work is not separate from life.

Everything is work, and everything is life, whether it’s exercise, relationships, raising children, or having fun.

My mother used to describe work as the activity between your morning coffee and evening cocktail, but I don’t believe this.

Instead of dividing our waking hours into work and life, why not accept that it’s all life. After all, our work enables us to live how we want to, and ideally, how we want to live fits into our work.

I know firsthand how people can get stuck. Many of us have had the experience of working somewhere we didn’t like, and performing tasks we weren’t passionate about.

However, finding the job we love is often the result of experiencing jobs we can’t stand. It forces us to take ownership of our boredom by pursuing employment elsewhere.

Chefs, musicians, athletes, and artists have employed their passions to etch out a...

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Content over Comfort

We’re all familiar with the term Mind over Matter.

I find this phrase is particularly fitting for presentations. When you’re in front of the room, it’s important to not mind what doesn’t matter.

There’s a strange phenomenon with presentations. The audience can tell when the presenter is thinking about something other than what they’re talking about.

Remember Marco Rubio’s sip of water? Everyone focused on it because it revealed that Mr. Rubio wasn’t focused.

He needed water to articulate better, but by reaching off screen to quench his thirst, he clearly chose comfort over his content. The resulting media scrutiny hopefully taught him to finish his thought, and then in silence, take a sip of water and continue.

You see, great communicators excel because they realize that personal comfort is secondary to presenting. If you want the audience to listen, remember, and be...

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Rhythm of Communication Continued

“Rhythmic patterns facilitate the co-activity of groups and aid their members in coordinating energies and resources in work…”

  • Alan Lomax

What is the “rhythm of communication”?

Although every spoken message contains a vocal rhythm… …and any written message possesses syllables that combine to make a flow of words… …what is meant by “rhythm” is the pattern of sending and receiving messages that people become accustomed to in their work routines… …and how these patterns apply differently for the various mediums of communications that business relies on today.

That is the longest sentence I will ever write.

Anyway, as I was typing, the business world can communicate in more ways than ever before. The question is…does this improve how we communicate?

Absolutely.

  • Companies can hold conferences between people in different countries
  • Soldiers can speak face to face with their families...

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The Rhythm of Communication

The tempo of communication is changing, and this shift became especially noticeable to me with the advent of the New Year.

Before the holidays, there was the regular beat to the e-mails I received.

I’d send one, get a response, respond, then get another response.

But once the holidays hit…silence.

And then we get back to work and the floodgates open. Whoosh…my inbox is filling up with urgent e-mails from frantic people.

This isn’t to say that the new rhythm of writing isn’t engaging, it just has a different tempo.

I prefer a jazz-like rhythm to my messaging; sometimes it’s quick, sometimes you’re unsure when the response will come…and then…Bam! The very note you were waiting for.

But lately I’ve been wondering if the connected world we live in isn’t rotating too fast for many of us to keep pace.

It seems like people stepped outside to catch their breath over the holidays, but...

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Making Truth Persuasive

It takes an enormous amount of energy to be merely, mildly, interesting. People struggle to speak louder, gesture more, and purposefully maintain eye contact because they believe by doing so they’re behaving awkwardly or acting fraudulently.

These skills do not change who you are, they help you to be your best. As I like to say, it’s not about buying a new car, it’s just shifting into a higher gear. And anyone that’s revved up during a presentation has a better chance of making their truth persuasive.

The scary thing about communication is that a bad person can persuade others with a compelling argument. Which is why it’s so important to teach the good people, who genuinely want to help others, the techniques they need to make their truth more persuasive.

Here’s something I’m always struck by. Why do people have difficulty discussing their product with true interest, the kind that...

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Self-Improvement is a Sport

Mental fitness is required by any competent leader.

One has to be present when it matters, aware of the people around them, and rapidly able to adapt to changes.

Maintaining this level of focus is a skill that has to be practiced.

We’ve been doing a lot of push-ups at work lately.

It can be uncomfortable, because at some point you get tired, red-faced, break a sweat, and eventually can’t continue.

However, the more we do them, the stronger we get.

Eventually our technique improves, and pretty soon the people that dreaded doing public push-ups become proud of their ability.

Training helps them confidently accept challenges and their strength spills over into other skills.

You can’t pay for leadership identity, you have to work up a sweat to get it.

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New Year, New Revelations

There is really nothing that happens on our village planet that doesn’t start or finish with people in their 20’s. They make the world go around.

There is a lot of stuff being written about the millennial sense of entitlement.

This holiday season I saw something beautiful about them. And it’s really beautiful.

We have a fairly wild Christmas Party and share fun inexpensive gifts the next morning.

A lot of them showed up with contributions in the name of their colleague for efforts around the planet to make a difference. Soccer camp in Africa, a goat for a family that needed it…the list goes on. It wasn’t just the contribution, it was also the thoughtfulness that they had for each other and for things that matter.

They talked about wanting to make a difference. They talked about making the world a better place.

And I believed them.

More to come, in the...

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Leaders Must be Aware

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, once shared a great story about leadership.

It demonstrates a simple realization: when you are in a leadership role, you can’t risk letting your guard down. There is no room for flippant remarks. Economist and former US Secretary of the Treasury, Larry Summers was walking through Goldman Sachs one day. He leaned over a trader and commented: “Huh, gold looks good.”

The next day Larry was having breakfast with the President of Goldman Sachs, perusing the New York Times.

Upon hitting the business section, he was confronted with a big headline about Goldman Sachs buying a lot of gold.

Larry put the paper down and asked, “Why did you buy so much gold?”. The President replied: “I heard you said it looked good.”

The point here is to know that your voice carries in a different way when you are a leader.

A leader must always be aware of...

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