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Victoria_Labalme_The_Prism_Effect.pngI'm tired of those who say you have to decide which talent to pursue. We live in a world now where you can COMBINE and harness the full spectrum of who you are and what you've got.

You just need a bit of courage, imagination and determination.

No doubt, it's far easier (though ultimately more painful) to tone yourself down than it is to dig deep and combine and celebrate what you have.

But the truth is, landmark success doesn't come from running with the pack and shaving off parts of who you are to fit into a mold.

Landmark success results from taking risks; and risk requires exploration, creativity and the courage to trust that the integration of talents -- those with which you are inherently gifted -- will produce extraordinary results.  This is the foundation of The Prism Effect. It is the foundation of all great lives, great businesses and great works of art. And you...are a work of art.

Agree?  Feel free to comment and/or join our community...

Are You Blowing It With Someone's Name...?

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I want to say something about names here and how you speak to someone. It is so common for people to shorten a name without permission. So for example, my name is Victoria. And I cannot tell you how many people just call me Vicky. It happened yesterday, I can't even remember who it was. But I'm on the phone with this person, a potential client and they're like, "Okay, Vicky. Thanks." I'm thinking, "Wait. When did I say Victoria is Vicky? Those are two different names." And the joke I always say is it'd be like if your name was Richard and I just decided to call you Dicky. Not the same. If someone's Elizabeth. Don't call her Liz or Lizzy without permission. If someone's Jeffery. Don't call them Jeff.

And be conscientious about your comments about someone's last name or first name. It's always nice to compliment them versus make some wacko comment. Years ago, believe it or not, I had a teacher when I was in grade school who taught theater and his name was Mr. Hamburger. Now, can you imagine having a name like that? But if you were to meet someone today. How could you, if it was you, approach him and say something that was not the typical, "Hi, hotdog?" Because what you do in saying a common comment is you lower your status. So how can you raise it?

Now I was doing an event where the sound guy's name was Dustin. Now, a lot of us in a certain generation would think immediately of Dustin Hoffman. But if I say, "Oh, Dustin. Like Dustin Hoffman." I'm thinking in the back of my head, "He's probably heard that many, many, many times. How could I distinguish it?" So the easiest thing that you can do is just to comment on the fact that you know it's probably said often. So you can simply say, "Dustin, I bet you a lot of people make a comment about Dustin Hoffman." And just by nature of that distinction you are separating yourself from the pack.

So think about that carefully. When someone offers their name to you don't shorten it, don't nickname it. And be very careful about your comments on who they really are.

Let us know what you thought. Put a comment below and we'll be in touch!

Why You Don't Want to Cut Corners - Ship in a Bottle

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How often do you think of cutting a corner on a small, small, small element? Well, it's a little vague as an open. Let me give you an example what I'm specifically talking about. That was my attempt to be totally cagey and draw you in.

But here's what I wanna say...

Years ago, I was just beginning in my business. I was really a newbie. I was at this stage where I was making my business cards by printing them on my printer at home, and then I wanted to put them on really heavy cardstock. I couldn't get the cardstock through the printer, so I would print them black and white on a single piece of paper, then I'd walk it over to Kinko's, and I would get really heavy cardstock of my own that I got at an art supplies store, put that through the printer, and then hand paint each card so it was color. And then I would slice them with a slicer. This was my process.

I was beginning out. I didn't have business cards, didn't know how to get them. And I had a big event that I had signed up to go to. So I thought, "I had better have some business cards." In fact the guy hosting this event (it was this elite, exclusive high-level retreat), he said, "I'd like each of you coming to this retreat to send 12 business cards." And I got this notice and I had very little time that week and I thought, "Let me just print them in black and white. I'm not going to hand paint them. I don't have the time."

I went through the process of black and white, went to Kinko's, printed the cardstock. Sliced them into individual 12 per page. Then I thought, "You know what, let me do this right. Let me take the extra half hour to paint these properly," because I figured he'd give one to each person attending the seminar.

Well I got to the event, no business cards were distributed, and it was a two-day experience. The night between the two days I went back to my hotel room and sitting on the bed was a box, a little bigger than a shoebox. I thought, "What's this?" And it was a gift from this guy who runs the seminar. In fact I'll say his name, because he was so great. His name is Nido Qubein. Brilliant, brilliant leader. And I open the box and I pull out what's inside. It's a bottle. You know, ship in a bottle type of bottle, and actually inside is a ship. I'm thinking, "This is the coolest gift."

But not only is it a ship, it's a ship that's made with business cards. I'm going to have our camera woman, Becca, zoom in so you can see this. She's going to nod to me when you can see. If you look carefully, you'll see the V and the L of my logo. This is my old logo. Each of them is painted slightly differently because I was working with watercolors and these little characters. And here's the ship in the bottle made with my business cards. I was so glad that I'd taken the time to paint the V and the L, because every time I look at this it's so much more bright. And even though it's not something that I exhibit to clients, it's something that stays here in my studio, it reminds me of the importance of doing things right.

I have a wonderful colleague, Gregg Goldston, who I've done many, many projects with. We always use the phrase, "Ship in a bottle," which means, "Do it right." So I say to you, the next time you think about cutting a corner, remember, ship in a bottle, because you never know where your work is going to end up.

The Idea that Might Lead to the Idea

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One of the core tenants of my coaching is exactly this: the power of "the idea that might lead to the idea."

In developing new material or even in revamping old, this is critical. We so often get stuck in old patterns of thinking and when get that flash -- that creative impulse (however wacky) -- it is worth paying attention to.

I believe this is your creative genius at work.

When I start working with a new client, I always explain the importance of this -- of not tossing out any ideas too soon. This gives them freedom to brainstorm without fear of judgment and often what follows is a client will say that day or at a future session, "OK. I know this is kind of strange. But it could be 'the idea that leads to the idea.'"  And we are off and running.

So...let's look at that as it applies to your next interaction in which the topic always feels kind of the same in tone, content and delivery: perhaps it's a weekly staff meeting, an annual convention, a regular get together with some family members or friends at which things are always "kind of the same."

What's your wild idea to shake things up? Begin by saying quietly to yourself, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and see where your imagination takes you.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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A few months ago, we watched the movie Pleasantville which I'd never seen before but which members of my family raved about.

It is an exceptional film - about expression, exposure, change, honesty, being in the moment, and what happens when a culture limits itself and what happens when it sets itself free. 

It is a great lesson for life...and a great lesson for great presentations. Yes we can plan a bit - structure allows for freedom -  but you must always
present from the present.

I was once working with a neuroscientist on a video series she was putting together. For our second session, she came into my studio with a 2-page script. We did a first take. But half way through, I could tell how much she was forcing herself to talk about things in the order she thought was right; organically, her body wanted to say something different. She tried to stick to the script, twisting her way into it to keep on track.

That struggle manifested itself as tension and awkward behavior on camera - her mind forcing herself to go in one direction and her intuition was keen to go somewhere else.

It was a perfect segue into a technique I teach that frees people up ENORMOUSLY - and lets them express themselves with structure AND with spontaneity. 

But in life, as in the film Pleasantville, people often force themselves into a path. A lot of companies unfortunately do this, and a lot of speakers do the same.

It's worth letting go the reigns just a bit and seeing where things lead. Goal setting is overrated. When it comes to speaking (and I've venture to say life as well), find your form organically. THEN set down your markers and your goals.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Do What The People You Love Love To Do

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Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions

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As we all know, there are many components that make for a great speech but one technique that's rarely talked about is what I call "Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions."

When you are truly committed to your point, analogy or story, your body and voice will come to life. This is why coaches who work from "the outside in" will get you in trouble. The gestures they give you to do are forced and inorganic. And, the forced movement can also come from speakers who have presented their story so many times that the movements seem phony -- a mix of self-aware, hollow and overdone.  

Think for a moment of a young child you know or your own kids when they were little. When telling a story that they truly want you to 'get', their voice is filled with unexpected sounds and huge shifts in volume and tone; their bodies is alive with animation.

The fact is, they are 100% committed.
So how committed are you?
How much passion do you have for your topic?
And how important is it that your audience 'get' your message?

How much or how you little animating you do depends on the venue, the audience, your message and your objectives...a boardroom presentation is vastly different from a keynote address at an arena-sized space, but
audiences will never care about your message unless you care first.

And animation is just one way to let that passion out.  Take a look at the video, give one of these ideas a try, and let me know how it goes.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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A great lesson for life (and a great lesson for great presentations) is that yes, we can plan a bit - structure allows for freedom -  but you must always
present from the present.

It's worth letting go the reigns just a bit and seeing where things lead. Goal setting is overrated. When it comes to speaking (and I've venture to say life as well), find your form organically. THEN set down your markers and your goals.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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As you look towards the fall, think not only of the items, tasks, and jobs you need to accomplish, but also and more importantly, of the experiences you want to create.

Communication is the same way. Rather than simply focus on conveying information, focus on creating an experience.

Life's too short not to.
(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Amateur vs. The Professional

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Last year, one of my EMS (Executive Mastery Series) clients came into NYC for our private session. Despite his high level, his impeccable credentials, and his CEO pedigree, he's still committed to learning, growing, polishing, and improving. It was a joy to see and it was a true honor to work with him.

Though he'd put a ton of time into preparing his presentation for an upcoming event, he realized after our first hour that it was off course and he needed to scrap the entire opening and structure.

It wasn't bad. It was OK. And he could easily have just said, "It's fine." But he wouldn't be where he is now if that were his attitude. He stayed up that night rewriting the whole thing.

The professional is ever aware, always improving, and always asking, "How could it be better?" And willing to do the work to make it so.  It isn't ever easy...but it's always worth it.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.