I got married by mistake!

By mistake? Oh, well maybe everyone does that.
But mine was a grammatical error.

Let me explain.

It is 1988. I am teaching English 1A to adults pretending to study English. They are actually in my class to obtain and maintain their student visas. The men succeed in not learning better than the women. So, in the interest of justice and fun (and being a former feminist), I don’t discriminate; I give all the men Ds. They consider their grades a joke. And among my underachieving students is my husband to-be. He asks me before, during and after class for the whole semester and succeeds (even without the benefit of eloquent English) not just in achieving a date with me but on winning my hand on our very first date!

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Numbers Made My Head Hurt

Once a month my husband got really grouchy. He had BPS (Bill Paying Syndrome). He would sit at the dining room table with bills and envelopes spread all around and call out to me in a voice tinged with suspicion, asking things like “What did you charge on July 16th for 1,475 dollars?” to which I would say “How would I know?” Then I’d get busy at the other end of our apartment, meeting the needs of our children until the bill paying time was finished.

One day, I decided I had enough of this type of hostile interrogation and told him bill paying was his department and never to ask me another question about a bill again. I was homeschooling our three children, math gave me a headache, and I had no time to waste on stuff that didn’t concern me. Money was not my department. Victory! That was the last of his annoying behavior.

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The Magic Question that Works Every Time

How to Find Your Core Message and Turn a Simple Story into a Spellbinding Speech!

“I need a life balance coach.” I said in jest (or so I thought) as I introduced myself on a tele-seminar I was delivering to around fifty coaches on  how to craft a keynote speech. A moment later a voice called out  “That’s me! I’m a life balance coach.” Just one voice …out of fifty people who are trained in life balance. Why did she speak up?

I found out.

When the tele-seminar ended Viki (the life balance coach) called and emailed me (She was eager –– that impressed me!) and I asked my helper to contact her and offered her a trade of an hour of me coaching her on her speech, and she, in return, was to help me “balance.”. She was so enthusiastic and who knows… maybe I could learn how to play…. or at least rest.

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coaching, money

How to Get More Customers than You Want

When I was young, I just hated having to do the girl thing. I imagined how I would act if I were a boy. I’d spot a girl, tell her she was beautiful, ask for her phone number, pick her up and kiss her right away. But it was the 60’s and Mom said a girl had to “play hard to get”. I hated the delays involved in this methodology although I practiced it with strict discipline. I found it effective and efficient and left a trail of tormented males wherever I went. When I became acquainted with the law of karma in the 1970’s, it did give me pause, but I was determined to win in the battle of the sexes and deal with universal forces later.

So when I went into business for myself and it dawned on me that getting customers was something I had to do- I was excited!  It was something like dating only now I would be the aggressor! I would have my chance to be a male chauvinist pig!  (I was a feminist the 80’s. That’s what we called men then…and exactly what I wanted to be now!)

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coaching, speaking

How to be a Speaker with No Speeches

Be careful what you wish for!

When I decided to become a professional speaker my plan was to fly around the country and speak about…I didn’t know…. whatever was on my mind! I told my coach about my new goal and he said “That’s a fairy tale. Lisa, when are you going to get real?” And I thought coaches were supposed to be unconditionally supportive… guess not! In his defense, he didn’t know me very well… First off, I just can’t bear being told I can’t do something. In fact, once I’m told I can’t, I must (think of the implications)! Next fairytales not being true…. he had just challenged my “paradigm” (new biz word) and I wasn’t going for a shift.

And so I flew around the country and spoke about whatever was on my mind. Truth be told, many times at 5am I arose to prepare a speech and found: nothing on my mind… but blind fear! No one booked “Blind Fear” (not a bad title) so I just had to remember what I was thinking… when I could think.

Now you might be wondering how I got booked as a speaker with no speeches?

I had great titles!

In fact when I applied to my first speaker’s bureau I supplied them with 50 titles! Yes 50! I neglected to mention I had no speeches. They asked for my titles. I wouldn’t lie…

So, an unsuspecting organization would read one of my sizzling titles and book me… and I with consummate unprofessionalism would say to myself “What does that title mean?” A popular title was the intriguing “The myth of Procrastination”. Hmmm…what was the myth?

Well, let’s see… when I lived in Italy no one procrastinated (not that anyone did much besides nap and eat). And there was no word for procrastination (that I knew of). Now, that could have been because my Italian was lacking… I pull out my “Visual Diary” paintings from my two years in Florence and do an illustrated presentation with giant blow ups of oil paintings, of me facing the elements in Italy (men, unavailability of laundry mats etc.) and learning how to ride the wave of sloth Italian style (“Sloth Italian Style!” -a potential good title) with a comic book I drew as a “handout” (a speaker “must-have”) to drive my points home (important speaker skill). And thus I taught Corporate America how the Italians get things done (no, not without delay)…but without procrastination!

And so it went. Now, you are asking… so what’s the point?

Well, since I wrote more speeches than I could count (all on in the morning of the day of the speech, none of which I could read later, since they were all hand written, as I had never learned to type) I learned to…write speeches.

My speaking career? One day lying on a plastic bench at 3am in an airport in St. Louis, shivering and hungry, with my pocketbook for a pillow, and an umbrella over my head for privacy, waiting for yet another connecting flight after my last flight didn’t connect, I said “Lisa, When are you going to get real? Why would anyone want to fly around the country and speak about whatever was on their mind?” “STAY HOME AND DO IT!”

And that’s just what I did. I stayed home warm and well fed on the phone in a comfy chair and….helped speakers write their speeches!

I learned to type (and even email). I still get to make up cool titles (for other people). And whenever I pass the airport I raise my fist (think Scarlett O’Hara with the sun blazing above Tara) and with great gusto I say “I’m not flying! I will never be homeless again!”

The lesson here?

Fairy tales do come true….but maybe not exactly as planned!