Here’s my video interview with John Hunt of Smead’s Keeping You Organized online show. The topic is “Cinderella Actually Had Three Ugly Step Sisters: The 3 Blocks to Success.” You can listen to it as a podcast or watch it as a video. It is only 15 minutes long but packed with high-quality content.

This is Part 1, which covers an overview of the 3 blocks and delves deeper into block 1. There will be a Part 2 coming soon that delves deeper into blocks 2 and 3, so stay tuned. Hopefully, this topic will help you identify the blocks to success, and how to avoid or overcome them.

Watch the video:

Listen to the audio:

Around this time of year when we flip the calendar from one year to the next, most people make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. It is a noble idea in theory, but often in practice, doesn’t amount to much. Resolutions often get cast aside and discarded, making their creators feel inadequate and unproductive.

So why not skip the New Year’s Resolutions altogether this time and opt for an alternative New Year’s ritual: the One-Word Theme!

I find it helps me to choose a word to give me an over-arching theme for the new year. For many people, the one word approach feels more manageable and powerful than a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions which can often feel like another to-do list. One word is ideal. It gives you focus.

I believe that choosing a word for the year is so compelling because it takes the “should” out of our wish for personal and professional development. Our word serves as a gentle (but powerful!) reminder, rather than a drill sergeant barking orders at us.

I’ve been following this one word theme for years now.

  • In 2011, my word was Implement. Boy, did I implement that year as I changed my business brand and model, and went with my husband on 13 interviews around the U.S. to choose a place for him to do a residency and for us to relocate to from NY.
  • My word in 2012 was Change as we relocated across country from New York to California and completely changed our lives and I expanded my business.
  • In 2013, my word was Discover as I acclimated to living in Northern California and embraced our new life. I took Italian classes, became a “real” cyclist, got back on stage with local theater groups, and more.
  • In 2014, my word was Presence as a reminder to live in the moment and savor all of the experiences personally and professionally that I was blessed to have in my life.
  • In 2015, my word was Adventure. My husband finished his 3-year veterinary residency and we spent a month in beautiful Italy. What an adventure indeed!!
  • In 2016, my word was Savor. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. I renewed my life-long hobbies of reading and writing. I read 84 books that year and started writing creatively again.
  • In 2017, I chose Creativity and loved it! I started writing my first novel, attended some amazing writer conferences, and brought a creative flair to everything I did, personally and professionally.

For 2018, I’ve chosen the word Embrace. It took a little bit of time to reveal itself, but once it did, I realized it was the right word and theme for this year. I plan to embrace my favorite hobbies such as reading and writing, embrace my health, embrace my marriage, embrace my business, and yes, even embrace my age (I am turning 50 at the end of January… yikes! How did that happen?!).

I love how Embrace makes me feel like I am enjoying what I have, while reaching for what I want. It feels positive and proactive. It feels like it will push me outside my comfort zone, but not so far that I lose sight of what I already have that needs to be embraced.

When I posted on social media about this one-word approach, I got a huge response to my appeal for people to share their word of the new year. People’s comments were very inspiring and thought-provoking. Interestingly, people often share that they experience a little resistance to their word at first. Or were surprised at their word. Or hoped that something bigger or better had come to mind. Try not to resist the word that presents itself to you!

The word you choose is usually the exact one that you need to be reminded of throughout the year. And by the way, the one word theme is not a cop out! It doesn’t mean that you won’t accomplish anything or fail to take action. From what I have seen with the one-word theme, you will. But many of us don’t need another to-do list. We need a theme, a rallying cry, a mantra, an affirmation, a reminder. Your one word can serve all of those purposes and more if you give it some serious thought, choose wisely (or better yet, let your word choose you!), and then keep that word front and center in your mind, guiding your actions and behavior during the year.

So… what is your one word for 2018? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email or even better, share in the comments below so others can be inspired too!

Happy New Year!

So what is the “The Brand Called You”?

You are a brand. Your personal brand is a way of communicating what is inherently you. Your experience, background, education, methodology, personality, etc.

How do you figure out your personal brand?

There are many ways, but I’m going to give you one exercise.

In the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which also was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, every time Liz, the main character, went to a location, she tried to come up with a word to capture the brand of that location. For example, if I recall correctly, her brand word for Rome was Sex (or maybe Passion!). And at one point, someone turned the tables on her and asked her, “Liz, what’s your word?” And she was stumped. Part of the reason she couldn’t come up with her word at that point was she had lost touch with who she was, and needed to dig deeper, which she does as her journey progresses. But another part of that may have been that it is awfully hard to come up with just one word to describe your entire overall personal brand!

So I’m asking you to come up with 5.

5 words that capture what is uniquely you — your Personal Brand.

For some of you, this still may be difficult.

If you can’t come up with 5 words yourself, then pay attention to how others perceive you. Ask family, friends, colleagues and clients for 5 words that describe you. Please only ask those that will be your “believing eyes.” If you own a business, look at your client testimonials for patterns of words and phrases that repeat themselves. If you are employed in a workplace setting, look at your job evaluations and letters of reference. If you are just getting out o f college, look at your letters of recommendation. You get the picture. You are trying to find the words that others have used to describe your personal brand.

Here are my 5 words: Professional, Intelligent, Warm, Sassy, Productive.

Try to come up with a mix of words that exhibit both hard and soft skills, or tap into left and right brain characteristics. We are all made up of both, so mixing up the 5 words for your brand is a nice way to demonstrate your multi-facetted personality and help you to appear less one dimensional. For example, in my words, you will see that intelligent, professional and productive capture more of my left brain side and hard skills, while warm and sassy capture my more creative, right brain side and soft skills.

A really powerful exercise is to come up with 5 words for someone else.

I was doing this exercise for an organization at one of my speaking engagements earlier this year, and one of the participants raised her hand and said “I got nothing. I can’t think of any words for me.” So I looked around at her colleagues and asked if any of them had some words for her. Slowly, they started calling out words, and we could see that some of them overlapped and some themes started to emerge. It was very powerful to watch the effect it had on her as she learned what her peers considered to be her personal brand.

So I challenge you to list your 5 words. Make sure they truly capture your essence, personality, and what makes you uniquely you.

The next step is to start examining your life and work to make sure that your 5 words match how you showcase your brand to the world. Would someone be able to guess your 5 words? Immediately upon meeting you? Or at least after getting to know you further? If so, your external brand matches your internal brand. If not, your external brand is incongruent with who you really are. This can cause confusion, make others feel disc onnected to you, and result in your appearing inauthentic.

So think of your personal brand as an opportunity to have a deeper internal conversation that says who you are on many levels. Don’t miss that opportunity! Welcome that conversation. Start it with 5 words.

If you’d really like to ramp up your business and kick it into high gear — join me in one of THREE cities in the South East and Midwest, for my upcoming Kick Butt Business Bootcamp!

Are you ready to:

  • …create the business model you’ve been striving for?
  • …stop working so hard and, instead, work smarter?
  • …charge what you’re worth, and reach the levels of income you’ve dreamed of?

In order to have a thriving and successful business, you need to be strategic. You don’t have to do everything. You have to do the right things for your business!

Learn more about my Kick Butt Business Bootcamps! Here are the details:

Thursday, September 14, 2017
Hosted by the NAPO-Charleston Chapter
9:30 am – 4:30 pm
The Family Circle Tennis Center
161 Seven Farms Dr, Daniel Island, SC
Details here

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Friday, October 13, 2017
Hosted by the NAPO-Chicago Chapter
9 am – 4 pm
Belvedere Events and Banquets
1170 West Devon, Elk Grove Villiage, IL
Details here

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Thursday, October 19, 2017
Hosted by the NAPO-Michigan Chapter
9 am – 4 pm
Red Olive Restaurant
1051 W Ann Arbor Road, Plymouth, MI
Details here

During the Kick Butt Business Bootcamp, you will learn how to:

  • Go through an in-depth business building assessment to get really clear on what’s going on in your business and where YOU need to be putting your attention.
  • Make some powerful mindset shifts that will have you think and act like a 6-figure business owner.
  • Leave knowing exactly what to do, with a clear plan to take YOUR business to the next level. Topics include: Define Success/Your Role in Your Business, Passion/Unique Areas of Brilliance, Marketing/Unique Selling Proposition, Ideal Client/Target Market, Multiple Streams of Income/Leverage, Outsourcing/Delegating, Accountability Checks/Tools, Business Systems/Operations Manual.
  • Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, join us for some invaluable expertise for your business!

If you are not a business owner or entrepreneur, but know someone that may be interested in improving his or her business, please share this!

Can’t make it to the bootcamp? Contact me to discuss doing some private coaching together for your business!

Hello and Happy Summer!

As many of you may know, I have a serious creative side! I grew up as a performer on stage doing singing, acting and dancing in local community and regional theaters. I wrote poetry, short stories, and kept a journal since I was 8 years old. So creativity in general, and writing specifically, has been a big part of my life for many years.

And don’t even get me started on reading! I am a voracious reader across many genres. Last year, I read over 80 books and this year, I am already up to 32. I not only love to read, I love to review books. So that has become a fun hobby of mine.

In 2010, I wrote a non-fiction book called “The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life,” which was published by Peter Pauper Press in 2011. It sold out after a limited print run, so is now out of print, but can still be found as a used book through select bookseller sites. (If any of you have read it and loved it, please consider posting a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Great reviews help an author with their future books. And as I’m busy writing more works in progress that I want to publish in the future, my reviews will be important for an agent and a publisher to look at. So thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Now, I am trying something completely exciting and different… writing fiction! I am learning so much by taking online and in-person classes and workshops on craft, dialogue, description, character development, plotting, story telling and more. To that end, I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, which was an amazing 3-day experience. I have also joined the Women Fiction Writers Association and will be attending their retreat in New Mexico this fall. And I am loving every minute of this creative journey!!

Through my business, I have had the pleasure of speaking to audiences across the U.S. (and around the world!), as well as coaching with private clients, about the concept of life-work balance. And what I hear from most people is that they want to pursue their passion projects, enjoy their hobbies and interests, and be able to live full lives while enjoying their work.

So I am sharing this passion project with you so you can see life-work balance in action. The new LisaMontanaroWrites.com website is an example of life-work balance. This is a side project for me, a hobby I have to make time for when not working on my business, with private clients, or traveling to and from speaking engagements. I love my business and the work I get to do, but I also love my writing. And creating this website is a chance for me to give my writing (and reading and book reviewing!) the place that it deserves.

So without further adieu… I invite you to visit LisaMontanaroWrites.com. I want the website and blog to be a place to spark creativity, including writing, reading, and story telling. It is my creative playground! And I hope you will join me there.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or even better, a glass of vino!) and poke around.

Read some blog posts (and while you’re there, subscribe to the blog so you can get updates). Enjoy some book reviews. Share your favorite books while I share mine.

Pass the site onto others. Interact, comment, and stay awhile.

I hope you like it. But more importantly, I hope it inspires and motivates you on your own creative journey, whatever that entails. Make time for your own passion projects! And when you do, share them with me as I want to see YOUR life-work balance in action.

You have probably heard the phrase, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Some of you may live by that mantra. Others may feel the fear and let it paralyze them, never taking risks, living a life of safety and complacency. Fear is a natural emotion that we all feel at times, and that can keep us safe when facing danger or something that we are ill prepared for. Fear can prompt us to do more research when embarking on a new venture, and it can serve as the impetus for better planning. But fear can sometimes also stop us dead in our tracks, serving as a barrier to personal and professional growth. Is there a happy medium? Yes!

The Intersection of Fear and Excitement

When clients come to me for coaching around specific issues that they want to do or try but fear is holding them back, I almost always coach them around the intersection of fear and excitement. Let me demonstrate.

Think about something you would like to do, try, or embark on that you haven’t yet because fear has reared its ugly head. For one reason or another, you have fear around trying this activity, doing this task, or embarking on this journey. It makes no difference whether it is personal or professional. It could be as big as starting a new business, changing jobs, or relocating, or a smaller undertaking like startin g a blog or trying a new hobby.

Now, see if you also have excitement around trying this task, activity or new journey. Can you answer yes to the excitement part? If so, great! If you were to look at this potential undertaking as a pie, how much of your reaction and emotion around doing it is fear and how much is excitement? In order for you to overcome the fear, there has to be some excitement to balance it out! And if excitement is a bigger piece of the pie, even better. You will be able to move forward with more confidence knowing that your excitement will help guide the way and cancel out some of the fear.

What if the fear is an overwhelmingly larger piece of the pie than excitement? Does this mean you are doomed to stay stuck forever? Not necessarily. You may not have done enough research or due diligence to get excited about it yet. Excitement often comes when we can start to actually “see” our dreams and future plans take shape, and that can take more time to work out in our minds before the excitement sets in. But if you never feel any excitement about this undertaking and fear is the big black cloud hanging over this, chances are, it is either not the right path for you… or your fear is too large to overcome at this time. So then, what do you do?

Do a Trial Run

You can do a trial run of your undertaking but in a way that feels safer, and perhaps smaller. For example, before opening your business, spend some time interning or shadowing a professional that does what you want to do for a living. This will give you a taste of what it would be like to be a business owner doing that work be fore you actually start it. Likewise, if you want to write a book, but fear keeps holding you back, start by writing a blog or a series of articles. Usually, doing a smaller version or trial run of the undertaking will quell some of the fear and get you pumped up!

Just Do It

In the words of the popular Nike advertising campaign, just do it! Yes, I mean it. Just close both eyes and dive into the deep end. Or in my case, keep your eyes wide open and hands on the wheel, as my fear was driving over bridges. I love to drive and have been doing so since my teenage years. I drive long distances and cover a lot of miles for speaking engagements and personal travel. However, for years, I was afraid of driving over bridges. Strangely enough, I am not afraid of heights, but something about bridges just freaked me out. So what did I do? I drove over a lot of bridges! It helped allay my fears, “conditioned” me to get used to it, and realize I can do it successfully. Doing the actual activity that I was afraid of took a lot of the power out of the fear that I had been giving to it. The fear got less and less until one day I was driving over a bridge a few years ago and realized I no longer felt the fear.

Did I develop excitement about driving over bridges? I wouldn’t go that far! But I did get excited about where driving over bridges could take me. I have become a huge fan of road trips and take them often.

So, what would you do if you could overcome your fear? Figure out if your pie includes at least equal parts excitement and then take a big old bite out of it and dig in!

Isn’t it always more fun to do something with a friend? And you get double the support and accountability too!

That’s why we’re offering a “Bring-a-Friend” Special Offer for Speak Up Summer Camp: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business. Register with a friend or colleague and you can BOTH save an additional $200! (And yes – you can “stack” any of the coupons mentioned for even more savings). Please be sure to use the Bring-a-Friend link when registering. (Do not use the regular registration button and select two registrations. You will not get the special offer rate if you do it that way!)

And I’m excited that my colleague (and friend), Monica Ricci, will once again co-facilitate with me. Monica and I have shared the stage together a few times now with amazing results!


So.. if you:

  • Want to become a dynamic public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills…
  • Have to give a presentation and need help writing and organizing it, or coaching on how to present it…
  • Or want to learn how to use speaking as a powerful marketing vehicle or actual income stream…

Join us for this 8-week teleclass-based group program kicks off on Thursday, June 1st and we conclude on July 20th. The class meets virtually for 1.5 hours at 4 pm Pacific/5 pm Mountain/6 pm Central/7 pm Eastern.

Take a minute right now and make a decision as the early bird rate of only $697 ends May 15th.

Plus, to thank you for being a loyal newsletter subscriber, you can use coupon code SPEAKUP50 to get an additional $50 off of your registration even during the early bird sale.

If this sounds like a good fit for where you want to take your business or career, register now.

Questions? Send me an email at Lisa@LisaMontanaro.com and we can set up a time to chat.

Want to become a dynamic public speaker or hone your existing speaking skills? Have to give a presentation and need help writing and organizing it, or coaching on how to present it? Want to learn how to use speaking as a powerful marketing vehicle or actual income stream?

Many of my clients come to me because they want to add revenue to their business and find ways to increase their visibility. Speaking – and getting paid to do it – is one of the top strategies I recommend when working with my business/entrepreneur clients.

Even my clients that work for a corporation or organization often come to me for speaking training and coaching, as they too need to hone those ever-important speaking skills.

That’s why I’m introducing Speak Up Summer Camp: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations to Boost Your Business. And I’m excited that my colleague, Monica Ricci, will once again co-facilitate with me. Monica and I have shared the stage together a few times now with amazing results!

This 8-week teleclass-based group program kicks off on Thursday, June 1st and we conclude on July 20th. The class meets virtually for 1.5 hours at 4 pm Pacific/5 pm Mountain/6 pm Central/7 pm Eastern.

Take a minute right now and make a decision as the early bird rate of only $697 ends May 15th. And . . . the first five people to register get BONUS gifts!

Plus, to thank you for being a loyal newsletter subscriber, you can use coupon code SPEAKUP50 to get an additional $50 off of your registration even during the early bird sale.

NEW! This year we have a “Bring-a-Friend” Special Offer. Register with a friend or colleague and you can BOTH save an additional $200! (And yes – you can “stack” any of the coupons mentioned for even more savings).

If this sounds like a good fit for where you want to take your business or career, register now.