Rule #3 Respond!

How do I respond when someone doesn’t want to hear my truth?  Will I be a peace practioner?  It might be as simple as returning a phone call or responding to a text.  How about that email we don’t want to deal with?

One thing is certain, it starts with all of us.  You and me.

It starts by returning phone calls, texts, emails.

When that habit is mastered, begin writing thank you notes on REAL paper.

Writing thank you notes is as ingrained in me as my name, thanks to my Mother.  In my office, it’s always easy to reach stationary, cards and stamps.  ALWAYS.  It’s not hard.  Luckily, I’ve been surrounded with people most of my business & personal life who feel the same.  It’s courtesy, but it also says something about my brand. My brand you say?  My name is my brand, what I stand for and everything else in between.

Today so much of this has gone away because of social media.  When I was ‘beginning my career’ and even in college I wrote people to say thanks.  (Still do.)

One RESPONDER immediately comes to mind, Helen Gurley Brown.   I wrote how much I loved her first book.  HGB wrote the most lovely thank you note for my thank you note!  I can’t remember exactly all HGB did, but I do remember she took time to RESPOND to a fledgling publicist who could do absolutely nothing for her.

Another RESPONDER is Bill Carter — Arkansan — works with everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Gatlin Brothers.  Busy much?  Of course, but Bill Carter returned my calls.  Years after my first call to him, I began working with Bill, when he became Bill Gaither’s partner in television specials.  No, I didn’t always like what he said, but I LOVED that he said it.  He was and still is his own truth teller.

How we make people feel is a significant part of our career successes and failures.

When we do not acknowledge an act, or return a phone call we are saying “you don’t matter to me.”

“Your gift does not matter.”

“Your lunch invitation does not matter.”

“Your offer to help me does not matter.”

“Your request for my help does not matter.’

“Your idea does not matter.”

“YOU do not matter.”

I’ve not always been good about journaling my life, but I have been good about keeping cards and notes from others.  It’s a great way to remember those who’ve been kind.

Why is it I cannot remember if I locked my car door, but I can remember those who’ve not responded?

I can also remember times I did not respond.  Those times have sometimes haunted me, not speaking to someone or returning a phone call because I was too busy, too lazy or the worst, I was arrogant. Some days it’s a struggle and some days I just don’t care, but these days are rare now because I know what a difference RESPONDING makes when someone responds/does not respond to me.  I want to be an AUTHENTIC RESPONDER.  I want others to know they matter.  I want you to know you matter.

There are times when something is said that can allow us to make a choice — be Switzerland and straddle that fence or stand UP for something.  I’ve never really located those bushes to ‘beat around’ so pretty much with me, what you see is what you get.  Good and bad.  My head starts exploding if I can’t tell my Authentic Truth.  I have my Father to thank for this — he said it and wanted me to say it too.

If I disagree, or have bad news to share — & if I’m allowed — I  want to see you when we talk. One night in the late 90’s I was with a group of artists, and fully aware one particular performer wanted to ‘impress me’ for future opportunities.  He said, “This building is around a really bad area, a lot of black people, you are so pretty, you need to be really careful going home. Do you have a knife or anything to protect yourself?”

Really? Really.

I could not believe what I was hearing.  Once I caught my breath, I said “That is SUCH a bigoted statement I do not even know how to respond.”

Back peddling has never been so swift.  And for the ten + years every single time I saw this performer he tried to ‘fix’ his mess of a mouth.

I had no choice but to respond, if I had not responded, my head would have exploded and my heart would still be disappointed in me.

Is it a wonder no one still knows who he is?

Case in point:  Why is Judge Judy still the #1 rated day time show?  She is a truth teller.  In the age of ‘feel good’ and ‘be happy’ someone stepping up to say their truth can be intoxicating.

Me? Personally?  I am addicted to Dr. Phil.  I was not a fan originally, but the more I find complacency, the more addicted I am to his ways helping others to clean up their emotional houses, enabling them to move forward in a healthy way.  Another truth teller.

Obviously I could go on and on, and sometime I may talk about this more. For today I want us all to be truth tellers, return our calls, write thank you notes, RESPOND.  These few simple acts tell others they matter.  The reward is so great, greater than any of us can really imagine.

I am lucky to have friends for life, loyal truth telling friends because I RESPONDED.

Will you be a RESPONDER?  A truth teller?  How will you brand yourself?  Will
you be your AUTHENTIC SELF?






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Rule #2 LISTEN and Well

Repeat, please.  Talking on the phone In the throws of a Candy Crush or Words with Friends marathon or just flat out not listening?

Maybe reading emails or texting during lunch with a friend or co-worker?  How about on the phone with one of your parents, your children, your spouse or partner as they tell you about their day and you score 144 on Words with Friends?

Listening is a craft, listening is difficult.  Sometimes very difficult.  I know, because I’ve been on those same Candy Crush and Words with Friends marathons too.  I struggle to listen and sometimes to even the most intriguing people.

And how does it feel to be interrupted?  The person who interrupts is not really listening, probably thinking of the next and best thing to say, to respond.   Or perhaps watching for a more important person to come into the room. Really?  Really.

When Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas, I was involved in his campaigns, and a very respected political ally of the then-Governor’s took me to lunch, to see if I could influence him to pay attention to those he was talking to and not keep looking over shoulders for a more important contributor. Although I’ve not seen him since the first Presidential campaign, I assume he’s mastered that problem. (smiling here!)

On the other end of the spectrum, and thanks to Sam Lovullo of Hee Haw fame,  I did press for an event with Tommy Lasorda and lots (& lots) of sports stars at the Opry House.  Robert Wagner — RJ to his friends — was host.  Upon meeting RJ — no, we aren’t friends — he shook my hand and his eyes never. left. mine.  My eyes left his, it was awkward and uncomfortable, but intriguing. I watched him do this same thing with everyone, even the men he met!  It was a fantastic birds eye view, just to watch reactions.

Having invited a couple of friends to the dress rehearsals, I was fascinated when one female friend — also in the communications field — did not realize it was his way of controlling each person he met.  She actually thought (for weeks afterwards, too) he had a big crush on her!  Right? Not.  I don’t think her eyes were listening!

So don’t go crazy, controlling with your listening skills and the way you make eye contact as you listen.  Do NOT do an “RJ” –  be your own authentic self.

It takes ears AND eyes to listen well.

Nothing is more intoxicating than someone who listens and looks into our eyes AUTHENTICALLY as we talk, and hears, sees us and what we say. 

NOTHING.  Is. more. intoxicating.  NOTHING.

As for RJ and me — I never talked to him or looked at him again that weekend even when they took our picture!  Just too exhausting.

*When my LEFT BRAIN kicks into gear, I’ll post the photo of “RJ” and me!




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Rule #1 Pay Attention

The first time I really thought left brain vs. right brain was in an ECHO meeting in Nashville, Tn.  It was Rosanne Cash, our leader, asking who was left brained? We needed help with the VCR.  Yes, it was several years ago!  I think there was one person in the room that fit the bill, so we were able to watch the video!

Right brain left brain photo

Actually using my left brain came a few months later, and I’m not even certain I knew that’s what I was doing!  But I was determined.  I paid attention, VERY close attention to every single opportunity and pursued those like — as Bill Clinton once said to me — a dog to a bone, or, with a vengeance.  I categorized what I needed to do. I was excited, encouraged, it was a solid pitch/idea.

I usually rode my exercycle watching the Today Show & flipping between every other morning show during commercials.  It was one of those mornings, while watching  TODAY I found a ‘hole’ in their programming and I knew I could fill it with one of my artists.

I would suggest Music in the Plaza.

Music by who else, but legendary Gospel Quartet, the Cathedrals? Glen Payne and George Younce were musical icons.  But it would take a lot of convincing, as a very savvy artist said to me once,  “I can’t walk two steps alone at that event, but I can walk the mall all day.”  This is what I was up against.   No one in NYC knew the Cathedrals.

From that attention getting moment and Every. Single. Day. Following, I focused.  I paid attention.  I kept my mind clear of everything but how to make Music in the Plaza happen. I DID and THOUGHT of nothing else. (& for my right brain, always difficult.)

I can still recall exactly where I was when Dee Dee Thomas of the Today Show returned my call“We want your group to sing in the Plaza, what day can you come to NYC?”

Dee Dee Thomas and GVB's Guy Penrod

Dee Dee Thomas and GVB’s Guy Penrod

Dee Dee Thomas

Six hours following their initial performance Dee Dee called me and booked them for Christmas in the Plaza.  Yes, they were amazing.

Cathedrals on Today Christmas

Maybe I’d have achieved the same if I hadn’t paid attention, but I’m still never willing to take that chance.  My goal is my focus, and a clean house, everything else becomes secondary for a moment.

Now for the AUTHENTIC part of my Today Show quest.  I’ve never really told this story — maybe I wanted it to look easy?  SO when someone said Congratulations! to me, I would say “It was God.”  Well, as I’ve said in a previous post of course  it WAS God, He gave me the brains, the focus and the desire to achieve, to be my best.  I do not think the same thing would have happened if I’d sat on my sofa praying and doing nothing else.  Being a Christian requires work and so much more ALL THE TIME.  Even rest is something God exampled for us, but we play an active roll in our rest too.

As children we were taught a lovely prayer, “God is Great, God is Good”  it was easy to remember.  We are adults now and our prayers and our life should be AUTHENTIC.  This is why you will never find me sharing some things on social media — God knows I love Him — I do not need to press like within ten seconds to prove it.  Do you?

Paying Authentic attention is a start.










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