Congratulations Colette Carlson!

Colette Carlson--CPAE

Congratulations to keynote speaker, Colette Carlson, who was inducted into the Council of Peers Award for Excellence Speaker Hall of Fame® on July 10, 2017, at the National Speakers Association annual convention!  This award honors professional speakers who have reached the top echelon of platform excellence.

Admission into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is a lifetime award for speaking excellence and professionalism.  Inductees are evaluated by their peers through a rigorous and demanding process.  Each candidate must excel in five categories: message, presentation/delivery, experience, professionalism and collateral material.

To date, 237 men and women have been inducted into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®. Up to five new inductees are named each year at a gala celebration held in conjunction with the NSA National Convention.  Capitol City Speakers Bureau sends our sincere congratulations!

Leaders: Get in the Trenches and Connect!

By Colette Carlson


Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-why-you-must-morpWhen visiting my parents recently to celebrate Dad’s 90th, I watched as he carefully pushed the phone buttons with his oversized, arthritic fingers to re-order his medicine from the VA. I smiled and told him what a rock star he was for adapting to technology. A Baby Boomer friend, who reluctantly learned to use her bank’s mobile app, is thrilled with how convenient and time-saving it is – far fewer bank visits. Yet she avoided the technology for a long time, telling herself and anyone who would listen, “I’m not tech-savvy.” To that, I say, “It’s time to step up and get in the game.”

It’s what we all must do, not only in our personal lives, but most especially on our career path.

It’s imperative that we be willing to #morph – or risk becoming irrelevant.

Just because something is not part of your current skillset, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. If your company is transitioning to a new software application or implementing new systems, you can balk and complain about the change – we’ve all seen colleagues choose that behavior – or you can get on board with your company’s evolution and take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new. Besides, it’s good for the neural pathways in your brain!

Continue reading Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

Five Great Things about Screwing Up

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-5-great-things-about-screwing-upWhat was your latest, greatest mistake? Was it when you attached the wrong client proposal, or maybe your idea for that leads campaign that went over budget and ended in record-low quarterly sales…? Or maybe you can’t even talk about it because it’s too embarrassing!

Understandable, but think about this for a moment: isn’t the shame you feel over your error, whatever it was, worse than simply admitting you were wrong and moving on? Shame causes us to try and hide our slip-ups, but keeping them locked in our heads actually feeds their power. The resulting anxiety drags us down by forcing us to cover up or overcompensate. Fear increases because, as most of us know, a cover up nearly always comes back to bite us…and usually at the most inopportune time possible.In truth, every mistake – big, small, or in-between – is actually a precious gift (even if its wrapping is revolting). Changing your attitude toward failure can help you face it and grow stronger as a result.

  • Making mistakes is a sign that we’re taking risks. People who don’t take risks trade learning and progress for safety. Feel good about trying and failing rather than doing nothing. In fact, sit down and create your own personal resume of flops. Be as detailed and thorough as possible. Now, think about what each item on your tally of turkeys taught you, or how something positive came from it. You may find that some of those on-the-job mishaps actually furthered your career.

Continue reading Five Great Things about Screwing Up

7 Thoughtful Ways to Stress Less

How many of you want to grow old faster? What, not takers?!
Stress blog
Well, did you know you accelerate your aging when you regularly experience stress or anxiety? Seriously, if you’re too tired or too wired, take note of the seven strategies here to help you stress a little less:
  1. Give up the daily guilt.

Let’s get some perspective. Too many of us waste time feeling guilty that our life is out of balance, but you’ll never feel balanced as long as you have goals and dreams. Why? There’s always way too much to do, to learn, to accomplish. If you’re like me and have passion for your work, it’s easy to lose yourself in your tasks and projects since they bring you joy. At a certain point, however, I have to consciously ditch work to spend time with friends and family (minus my phone).Quit thinking you need to “touch” everything each day and look at how “balanced” your life is over a period of time, not a specific day of the week. Take this one step farther and realize that it’s about being balanced over your lifetime. It all evens out.

  1. Realize good is good enough.

Any other recovering perfectionists out there? Stop wasting time creating the “perfect” proposal, letter or marketing brochure, seeking the ideal gift for your nephew, the best comforter for your bedroom, or the supremely clean house. Stop at 80 percent and move on to the next task. Otherwise, hours of your life are wasted and nobody notices the difference but you. Get over yourself and take a step closer to acceptance.

Continue reading 7 Thoughtful Ways to Stress Less

3 Ways to Eliminate Faulty Focus

by Colette Carlson

motivational-speaker-colette-carlson-says-eliminate-faulty-focusIt’s never too late to go after what you want, and you don’t have to wait until a New Year rolls around to get started. Today is the perfect day to begin to eliminate faulty focus and choose to manifest the life you want.

Start with a clear vision. Decide what it is you are seeking. Better relationships? Optimal use of time? Being more present? Here are some guidelines to realizing those outcomes.

1. Right Relationships. Loyalty is a wonderful quality, but not when it keeps you stuck in relationships that no longer serve you. One clue to spotting such a dynamic? You dread showing up and leave wondering why you bothered. If you’re an average of the five people you surround yourself with most often, is this representative of who you want to be?

2. Time Tested. Be honest, are you frittering away too much time on mindless activities like social media or nightly TV? What about when you get together with others? Is it for networking groups or to deepen your knowledge in your field? Or do you solely get together for things like book club or bunko? Either way, consider, is this your tribe of choice or convenience? Do you walk away feeling full or empty? Set your priorities like billionaire businessman Warren Buffet does. He has said that for every 100 opportunities presented to him, he says no 99 times.

3. Perfectly Present. If your mantra is, “There’s not enough time,” chances are you can’t get focused because there are too many distractions. Choose mindfulness over multi-tasking. When you eat, eat. Don’t simply gulp something down while working at your computer. When you are talking with someone, look them in the eyes. Connect with them. If you are listening to a podcast, listen, rather than checking emails throughout. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a breather. Literally. Set a timer for five minutes, close your eyes, breathe deeply and reset. This mini-meditation not only clears your mind, but comes loaded with health benefits.

When a light is focused, it becomes a laser. Think what you can achieve in the next few months when you hone your focus.

Focus Forward Pledge: If you’d like to be held accountable, hit reply and send me your focus commitment for the rest of the year. At year end, I’ll send back your pledge for reflection and celebration. Not sure what to choose? Select the one behavior that will have the greatest impact on your career when implemented or would bring you the most freedom and joy in your life.

My Focus Forward Pledge: When in the office, I will invest a fast 15 minutes sorting email before setting a timer for 90 focused minutes on my highest priority deliverable.

Together, let’s make this happen!

Four Reasons You Flub Up

by Colette Carlson

Despite all the trainings, workshops, classes – and best intentions – we all flub up on the job. It can be as mundane as forgetting to book the conference room for the client meeting or as serious as administering the wrong medication dosage.

Of course, no one wants to mess up, especially at work. Probably not at home either if you’re “fortunate” enough to share space with someone who just loves to point out your mistakes. And I bet when you recall those instances when you did blow it, you get that sinking feeling in your gut just at the mere memory.

What can you do in the future to help eliminate the chance of error? We can begin by understanding the four main causes of human error. Then when you find yourself in one – or more – of these states, be vigilant.

1. Rushing. Whether it’s trying to quickly apply mascara to get out of the house on time or working against a last-minute deadline, when we rush, we often make mistakes – mistakes that cost us more time! When you find yourself scurrying to complete a project or make a deadline, pause, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to slow down. After all, if it saves you from making a crucial error or having to get out the eye makeup removal pads, it will have been time well-spent.

2. Frustration. You’re juggling 11 work projects right now, feeling like you’re barely keeping it together. That’s when Alex from accounting pops by your cubicle and nonchalantly drops off a sheaf of papers. “We need those last quarter numbers from your department revised. Jessica’s at a conference this week, so looks like you’ll have to handle it.” Rather than keep quiet as your jaw tightens and frustration mounts, now is the time to speak your truth: “I understand you need these revisions, so I will get them for you. Moving forward, let’s have a meeting when Jessica returns so we can create a schedule for deliverables.”

3. Fatigue. If you’re finding yourself making a fresh pot of coffee at 4 p.m. or zoning in front of the TV in the evening, you need to wake up to this truth: A recent Harvard Medical School study found that sleep-deprived American workers cost their employers $63 billion in lost productivity. Recommendations: Turn off screen devices an hour before going to bed. The blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Listen to calming music rather than a crime drama before drifting off to sleep. If possible, get moving during the workday. Even a 10-minute walk outside can make a difference. If you’re chronically tired, perhaps it’s time to see a doctor. And be willing to speak up and ask for help at home if you’re shouldering the majority of the burden there. No one to ask? Let it go and go to bed.

4. Complacency. You’ve done the same task hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Are you bored out of your mind at your job? I believe if you can do your job with your eyes closed, it’s time to open your eyes for new opportunities. Yet, I realize some boring job tasks are never going away. So while it may be tempting to let your mind wander as you assemble packages for the upcoming trade show, think of how you’ll feel if you or your supervisor doesn’t have what’s needed game day. We’re trying to eliminate that cringe-inducing feeling you get when you’ve blown it on the job. So especially when faced with a repetitious or dull task, remain present.

When you do make an error at work – as we all do – speak your truth. Own it, document how it happened and how you’ll prevent it from ever happening again, and move forward. Not bad advice for at home either.

What Does Truth Have to do with Reality TV?

by Colette Carlson

I was watching TV the other night – purely for the purpose of doing research for this newsletter, of course, when I was drawn into an episode of “Restaurant: Impossible.” For anyone unfamiliar with this reality show, celebrity chef Robert Irvine helps failing restaurants make a turn around. In two days, Robert and his team completely revamp the restaurant’s interior and address the problems that are causing the business to fail – which are often rooted in the dysfunctional relationships between the owners and staff.

What I found particularly telling in this episode was that the owner, a single mom, desperately needed to save her business or she would lose her home. Safe to say she had a lot at stake. She claimed she was baffled as to why cooks and kitchen managers continually walked off the job and agreed she’d like to know why. Yet when Robert provided her the answers, which he’d gleaned by interviewing two former employees and the current staff, she refused to accept the truth: Her lack of leadership and angry outbursts were driving staff away and making it difficult on those who remained. She subsequently threw a temper tantrum caught by the film crew. So much for her denial. Eventually, she seemed to accept the truth, vowed to change her ways, and, as in every episode, the clouds parted, the sun came out and everyone rejoiced! The new and improved restaurant opened its doors to a grateful, hungry crowd.

What can we learn from that owner? And for that matter, from Robert, who has a blunt, often abrasive style? When it comes to speaking your truth, there must be a foundation of trust between the person seeking honesty and the one providing it. And if we’ve asked for it, (“No, please tell me the truth.”) we need to be ready to hear the other person’s truth, not go into a defensive or angry mindset. That behavior keeps us stuck and limited.

You the one being asked to cough up honesty? Here are a few guidelines when speaking your truth specific to giving feedback:

  • Focus on the behavior, not the person, so that you avoid putting the person down or embarrassing them.
  • Be detailed and specific about the issue.
  • Ask for the person’s help in resolving the matter and discuss solutions.
  • Agree on the corrective steps to be taken and the timeframe for implementation.
  • Plan a follow-up meeting to assess the effectiveness of the actions.

When corrective feedback is given and received in a respectful manner, it reduces the likelihood of misunderstanding and ensures an environment where people can safely speak their truth.

Have you had any notable experiences giving or receiving feedback? I’d love for you to share them!

33 No-Cost or Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees!

by Colette Carlson

Who doesn’t love to be on the receiving end of appreciation for a job well-done? And in the workplace, it’s especially gratifying to see your hard work recognized. Even with companies keeping a sharp eye on the bottom line, reward programs can be effective. Meaningful doesn’t have to equal extravagant. Don’t get me wrong – a nice Hawaiian vacation could be extremely motivating! But if your budget doesn’t quite accommodate such largesse, consider these no- and low-cost employee recognition ideas:

  1. A hand-written note from a supervisor, with specific, relevant details about the employee’s outstanding contribution
  2. A hand-written note about them sent to their family
  3. On-the-spot verbal praise, within  hearing of co-workers
  4. A designated parking spot for the employee of the month
  5. Leave early on a day of their choice
  6. Allow them to work from home one day of their choice
  7. Have each employee contribute a lovely comment about the person on a sticky note, collect and stick them all over the person’s desk as a surprise
  8. An article in the company newsletter
  9. Lunch with the boss
  10. Lunch with the boss – and a key client
  11. Invitation to sit on a panel discussion
  12. Opportunity to mentor another employee
  13. Crazy trophy that gets passed around from person to person
  14. Name the break or conference room after them for a year
  15. Start an employee bulletin board where you rotate who is featured. Have individual bring in family photos or favorite places. Have others post nice notes about person.


Even better, rather than guess what would motivate another, ASK your staff or co-workers to fill out a short form with questions such as:

  • If you weren’t being practical (cheap!), what would you order from Starbucks?
  • What is your favorite fast food menu item?
  • If you could only eat one type of candy the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • Favorite musical groups?
  • Best local restaurant of choice?

This will allow you to customize the gift and make it even more rewarding.


If you have a budget for employee recognition, consider offering:

16. Gift cards ranging from $5 – $10 for things like coffee, car washes or movies, handed out by supervisors on the spot for a job well-done

17. Tickets to movie theater, sporting event or even the lottery

18. Mobile car washing service visit

19. Flowers

20. Lunch – for an individual or department

21. A department- or company-wide pizza party

22. Round of golf

23. Spa day – or bring in a masseuse to the office for neck rubs

24. Magazine subscription

25. Helium balloon bouquet

26. Groupon they would enjoy

27. Cupcake

28. Buy extra Girl Scout cookies from their child

29. Manicure/pedicure

30. Bottle of wine/six pack of choice

31. Brand new desk chair or office item

32. Pay for a fun class like cooking or sailing.

Most importantly, your company can show that an employee is valued by entrusting them with more challenging work. I didn’t say more work, but more challenging work, which recognizes that they’re an integral part of the company.

Now go reward!

What are some of the ways your company singles out employees for their efforts?

Are You Having An Out of Money Experience?

by Colette Carlson

If so, the truth is you need to go on a diet. A money diet. Now I realize that four-letter word can make the best of us run toward the nearest mall to stock up, just like starting a diet can send you on a Farewell to Food tour. But here’s why you must. Only when you face the truth of your finances will you be able to free yourself from making choices that no longer serve you.

If you’re feeling financially strapped these days, you’re not alone. Not only is our country drowning in debt – to the tune of $16 trillion – but personal debt is on the rise, too. With the quickly approaching holiday gift-giving season, now’s the time to make plans to avoid adding to your debt burden.

“But Colette,” I can hear you saying, “it feels so good to give gifts.” I get it. I’m not saying to eliminate the gift-giving. Rather, I’m suggesting you employ a technique I learned when I decided to shed that extra 50 pounds. It feels so good to be free of that burden. That’s the sense of freedom I want you to experience come January, when, for perhaps the first time in years, you’re not overwhelmed by a mountain of credit card bills.

“If You Bite It, Write It”

Writing down every single thing that goes into your mouth is a weight-loss technique that keeps you both aware and accountable. It helps you determine your eating triggers and makes you realize how many extra items are ending up in your mouth as you prepare dinner or munch on the couch during a movie. So a financial planning variation would be, “If You Buy It, Write It.” Just like all those little nibbles, sips and tastes can add up on the scale, your budget can bloat from all those little purchases that pop up during the day. Coffee on the way to work, a treat for your kids and friends after a game, or a pair of sale shoes you can’t live without. But you can. Look over your financial diary and determine what you really don’t need. Plus, if you know you have to whip out that diary before the credit card, you might think twice.

Identify your Why. When I decided to lose the weight, I wrote down all the reasons why this was important to me. Ask yourself, “How would my life be better if I didn’t have debt?” Brainstorm every possible answer and post in a visible place. Perhaps tuck a copy in your wallet or near your computer if you purchase on-line.

Get honest. Standing in my truth, I realized that I was reaching for food to protect myself from getting in the game, being vulnerable in relationships and taking healthy risks. Why are you over-spending? Is it to look more important, reward yourself for doing too much or an inability to say no to yourself or others?

Speak Your Truth. When your friends ask you to dine out, tell the truth. “As much as I’d love to join you, I’m choosing to not spend money eating out. How about you come over, bring a nosh and I’ll get the wine?” If your child wants the latest whatever, say, “I’m choosing not to spend money on items that we only want, but don’t really need. ” My daughters have always had jeans, but not necessarily ones with a hip label. These choices have allowed me to also pay those college tuition bills a few weeks back.

Is this easy? No. Being truthful with yourself about your financial picture can be challenging. But you’re already paying a huge price when you spend more than you can afford. Make a decision to be mindful with your money to eliminate unnecessary stress and regret when the bills come due.

What techniques have you found that have allowed you to rein in debt? Let me know in the comments below.