How to deal with change: Build your bridge to change.

How to deal with change: Build your bridge to change.

You’re on the brink of involuntary change, and the anxiety that comes with the change. Navigate it with a bridge to change.

We’re all in transition. For the past 10 years and up until the COVID pandemic in 2020 I’d been providing strategic communication and change solutions mostly to large government agencies, colleges and universities. I helped employees navigate technological changes and changes to business processes. Their great concerns were things like, “How will I do my job after this change?” But with COVID those concerns became, “Will I still have a job with this change?” “If my small business doesn’t survive how do I start over? and “How do I make ends meet?”

The support I want to offer certainly should not replace the care and guidance prescribed and offered by your doctors and license professionals, but I am a certified change practitioner who will be both your coach and cheerleader, offering real change solutions and encouragement along your path to professional fulfillment and solid financial footing.

The baby boomer who fears he or she is aging out of the workforce is asking, “Will I be able to get a job?” as is the returning citizen recently released from prison, the person now battling depression or trauma of the hardships brought on by the pandemic, and the recent graduate who’s now up against stiff competition to stand out and be recognized. All the while, the parent of a young school-aged child is finding her or himself making the tough decision of declining a job offer because their child will be left home alone. If you have a similar hardship I am now compelled to support you in this transition.

Motivational speaker, Dr. Willie Jolley says, you should “turn your setback into a comeback.”

Owning your hardship and leaning into the change can be hard, but it will be your first step in walking confidently and courageous into change. Acknowledging your truth gives voice to the reality, trauma or even guilt that you would have ordinarily suppressed or omitted in the traditional hiring process. But within the tribe that will become your community and customer base it makes you relatable and shines light on authenticity–not flaws. People will flock to you because you are credible, you are relatable, and your personality shines through as you engage with your tribe.

Whether it’s a career change, financial challenges, or a change needed to improve your life or lifestyle–think of the change process as building a bridge–a strong and resilient bridge between the life you know and the life that will be. Build your bridge–your bridge to confidence, your bridge to change. Every bridge must have an anchor, the structure, and sustainability. Build your confidence bridge on a foundation of financial security.

Woman sitting under bridge
To navigate on your bridge to change you need a strong anchor, rooted in security and financial stability.

Just as it is seen in the social sciences as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and in the spiritual realm as the Root Chakra: one does not fully grow and progress until his or her root is stable. Your confidence in the changes to come must be anchored in security and stability. Identify what it is that will stabilize you and anchor yourself. How much (or how little) do you need to truly feel secure? Whether it’s a career change, financial challenges, or a change needed to improve your life or lifestyle, you are more likely to embrace the change when you see that there is security and stability on the other side.

Once there is an anchor, there can be a structure. The bridge itself–the bridge as the solution to your challenges. See yourself in the solution, and structure your life and lifestyle around the the state of your life today. Let go of what was so that you can rebuild on what is. What some people see as having to downsize their life and lifestyle, I see as “right-sizing”.

The third component of your change bridge

The chains of the bridge, symbolizing sustainability
The chains of your bridge to change — they hold and sustain the bridge. 

So congratulations. (Yes, congratulations are in order.) You are about to take on a tremendous challenge and you’ve already decided you’re going to win. Anyone who has been the victorious underdog can tell you, it feels good to be the underdog once you realize you’re about to prove everyone wrong and win. You’re scared, sure, because you’ve sized up your opponent! Change is your opponent, and sometimes it’s big. But embrace being the underdog that’s about to win!

Craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch in Just Five Steps – the ITSME Way!

Craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch in Just Five Steps – the ITSME Way!

Every entrepreneur has learned just how important it is to make a great first impression and pitch your business to a new customer or a new investor. When you’ve got a minute or less to get their attention and share essential information about your business–the information that’s going to get your foot in the door, get your product into the right hands, or get money in your pocket–what do you say? What’s essential, and what’s not? I’m going to show you how you can craft the perfect elevator pitch with just five steps. When it’s time to create or fine-tune your elevator pitch use this 5-step approach I call my ITSME PitchTM.

The simple technique to nail your elevator pitch is to remember: I.T.S.M.E. “It’s Me!”

This essential sales pitch earned its name from the idea that it should be delivered in the short time it takes to share an elevator with someone who’s interested in your business–typically 30- to 60 seconds. The term has survived in the business and finance spaces for decades as the fabled elevator ride a hungry business owner lucks upon with the executive or venture capitalist on the way up to their corporate office. In essence, you never know who you’re on the elevator with so you better represent yourself well! Back then, your pitch would have been about features and financial information. Today, that elevator pitch is more about building a relationship that’s built on trust and relatability. It’s about sharing, “This is who I am, and this is what I’ve built my business on.” I’ve coined this sales pitch the “ITSME pitch”. It’s. Me. I’m not just selling my business here, I’m selling myself.

Cheerful greeting while entering elevator

Want to see how easy it is to craft the perfect elevator pitch with just five steps?

The “I” in ITSME is the simple Introduction. As fundamental as this is, many people forget to simply introduce themselves! Make it a habit to share your name and/or your business name immediately. “Forgive the interruption, Ms. Executive! I’m Marceia Cork–I attended your webinar last week and you shared your frustration… Much like what you were taught in grade school, your statements should cover the basic who, what, when, where and why you’re meeting or how you were previously connected. 

Do you have a Testimony? Trauma? Triumph? Your “T” might be any of these. Whatever it is, this is where you share your truth. Something from your past has helped shape your decision to start your business. And sharing that story is precisely what’s going to make you relatable. In social media marketing customers do business with people they like, know and trust. Sharing your truth gives people a glimpse into your life. Combined, that access and authenticity creates a bond as you also show them you trust them with your truth.

You’re the Solution. Now it’s time to offer up your service as the solution. Position this solution as both the solution to overcoming your own testimony and triumph, alongside how your product or service will help them and others like them.

Mastery and Expertise. Which brings us to the M and E of the ITSME approach. Close your pitch by proving you deserve their investment of time and money. You do this by briefly explaining what you’ve done to master your craft, and to perfect your product or service. Explain to them just what makes you a credible source or provider for what you’re offering and how you’ve gained that experience and expertise. 

This isn’t about rattling off the degrees you’ve earned–because not every business owner has gone to college or earned degrees in the industries in which they’ve started their businesses. What’s more important to note here are the keys to your current success–how you’re improving and mastering your skills, and how your product or service stands out above any others. Of course it’s okay to mention your degrees if it’s relevant, or if it helps establish the connection with your new customer or investor–say, if they went to the same school. Otherwise, skip it and focus on your unique, soft skills and tactics that made your product or service stand out among the others. Remember, you have 60 seconds to nail your ITSME pitch.

I can say all of that in under a minute? Yes. As a media trainer and public speaking coach I teach clients how to structure a basic speech or prepared statement based on the time allotted for the speaking opportunity. Break it down into sections. The ITSME pitch has 5 parts–that’s about 10-12 seconds per topical area. Spend about 12 seconds telling people your name and referencing the how’s and when’s of your initial meeting or connection, then spend about 10- to 12 seconds on every other area: 12 seconds sharing the testimony or trauma or that helped shaped your business decision, followed by about 12 seconds for each of the remaining areas. In a nutshell that’s about three short statements per area.

Sell yourself and your solution first and the business will come. Even Apple has their own five-step approach to the great service they provide, and boasts being service-focused over highlighting their tech products. Nail your elevator pitch by selling your solution and pitching yourself the “It’s Me!” way.

The Shredding of Confidence

The Shredding of Confidence

“At the root of confidence is capability and awareness.”

Have you ever self-assessed how truly confident you are?

Before 2016 I thought I walked solidly in confidence. I was in a fulfilling enough career and had stacked away enough of a nest egg to comfortably take a break from nine-to-fiving and become a consultant. That leap of faith allowed me to be home to raise my children. I’d earned my master’s degree, offered niche consulting in strategic communication and change solutions, was an adjunct professor and establishing myself as a speaker. Surely, I’d done what I’d needed to do to stay relevant and keep my footing professionally.

But then unexpectedly it became necessary for me to work more hours outside of the home and return to the nine-to-five for a more consistent income. I thought I’d have a seamless re-entry to the workforce but instead spent 18 months job hunting with no offer! I was sailing through interviews but falling short when it came to an offer. I didn’t know where I was going wrong. Slowly, my confidence was being shredded; I was losing bits of it without even realizing it.

So when I did eventually land a job imposter syndrome set in immediately. Working in technology versus communications for the first time I shrank around those who seemed more knowledgeable. They made decisions while I waited for permission. Who was this woman I’d become? Where was the woman who once commanded the attention of large audiences, and whose students would hold out on taking a course until she was available to teach it?

Our confidence is shaped before we even enter grade school. Life’s experiences either continue to build confidence, or they shred it. At the roof of confidence is capability and awareness; to be confident one must have an ability or a certainty that they see as consistent and sustainable. Confidence is mastery. To lack or lose confidence doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in other layers of your identity. You might lack the confidence, say, to step out on faith and package and distribute your secret barbecue sauce–even as you boast that nobody makes a better sauce! You might walk into a room knowing you could leave with anyone you want, but then allow that person to treat you terribly!

But hold on to the shreds–it’s those shreds that will make you whole again.

I began to piece my confidence back together again. I started listening and giving myself the grace to hear and believe those who spoke well of me. And I bet you’ll be able to weave your confidence back into shape if you do the same. Ask those closest to you and whom you respect, “What do I do well?” The hardest part will be to receive it.

Some years ago I stumbled upon a quote by Dr. Hendrie Weisinger in Psychology Today. I cut it out and taped it to my computer. She said, “If you can’t imagine yourself being successful, confidence will be hard to come by.” That said, the day you are finally able to say, “I do this thing well!” without shrinking in humility you will be on your way to building confidence and wading confidently in the depth of your abilities. Even if as you say it, you’re simply trying to convince yourself. No skill is too large or small to acknowledge–from your ability to declutter or drive long distances, to your grill cheese making or defrosting ice cream in the microwave to perfect soft-serve consistency!

(Re)Building Confidence

First: Practice Confidence. To begin building confidence, you should first get a sense of what confidence looks and feels like. Observe the confident people around you–observe their posture, and how they speak about their skills or how they execute the tasks you admire. Is there someone whose swag and confidence you want to model? Commit to mirroring the confidence you observe until you start to inherit some of the qualities you admire.

Next: Identify something you do better than everyone else. Again, no skill is too small or too large to acknowledge. Again look to those closest to you for their input. Hearing good things said about you is essential for both building confidence and boosting self-esteem.

Then: Own and quietly perfect the skill. Quietly improve your technique(s) and research it to the point where you could teach a master class on the skill! Again, confidence is in mastery. Educate and invest in yourself where it supports and enhances the skill.

Finally: Reassess and Repeat. Confidence grows with repetition, and with repetition comes the simple recognition of your competence and capability in your skill.

Yes, hold on to the shreds… A shred, after all, was once a part of something so valuable it had to be destroyed.