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Greater Impact Blog

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak at  TEDxEmory . The overall theme
was What Makes Your Heart Beat? My topic was Owning Your Confidence: How to
Overcome Nervousness and Exude Confidence in High-Stakes Situations. I discussed
several practical techniques to help you excel in even the most stressful of
situations. They are practices I’ve developed over many years of being on television
and speaking professionally around the world,

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Press

Atlanta Jewish Times article: Mother-Daughter Style Spans Continents

“Mother Nadia Bilchik and daughter Julia Kesler, are as colorful, outspoken and accomplished, and as different as they are alike.”

Read the full article at the Atlanta Jewish Times.

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Leadership Presence

The Greater Impact of Truly Listening

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak at  TEDxEmory . The overall theme
was What Makes Your Heart Beat? My topic was Owning Your Confidence: How to
Overcome Nervousness and Exude Confidence in High-Stakes Situations. I discussed
several practical techniques to help you excel in even the most stressful of
situations. They are practices I’ve developed over many years of being on television
and speaking professionally around the world, and I will be sharing them all with
you here.

Last week, I explained the importance of building a Positive Emotional Memory
Database ™. This week, I want to discuss the importance of mastering your
listening skills and how doing so relates to building confidence.
When we think about demonstrating self-confidence, we often call to mind an image
of ourselves expressing an opinion or sharing an idea without doubting ourselves.
But showing genuine interest and really listening is equally critical.

When we show genuine interest in what others are saying, they tend to respond in a
positive way, letting us know either verbally or non-verbally that they feel heard
and understood. This positive feedback, in turn, help us to feel more confident, and
that helps us to respond and speak in a more self-assured way.
So how do we practice effective listening? Here are a few tips.

1. As psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck says, set yourself aside. Be present in the
moment, and try not to become distracted by your own wandering thoughts or the
next items on your to-do list. Scientist Bill Nye reminds us to listen, knowing that,
“everyone you meet knows something you don’t”.

2. Ask open-ended questions. This gives the other person the opportunity to
elaborate on the subject matter they’re talking about, and to explain their thoughts
in greater detail. It will also give you a better idea of where they’re really coming
from, and what’s truly important to them about the topic you’re discussing.

3. Don’t make it about you. Providing a brief anecdote from your own life to show
that you relate to the other person’s experience can be helpful. But it should be
short, and you should quickly bring the conversation back to the other person’s
experience.

4. Listen with the intention of understanding what the other person is saying, not
with the intention of formulating your own response.
Try implementing these tips during a conversation you have today, and stay tuned
for the next technique!

OWN YOUR CONFIDENCE: TECHNIQUE NO. 1

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak at TEDxEmory. The overall theme was: What makes your heart beat? And my topic was Owning Your Confidence: How to Overcome Nervousness and Exude Confidence in High-Stakes Situations. I discussed several practical techniques to help you excel in even the most stressful of situations. They are practices I’ve developed over many years of being on television and speaking professionally around the world.

While neuroscience describes what happens when we get stressed and nervous as fight, flight or freeze, it doesn’t necessarily give us practical advice on how to overcome these moments. And that’s where my techniques come in.

The first one is building what I call a Positive Emotional Memory Database™. This is essentially a mental library where you store memories of experiences that make you feel confident, and you can “check out” or “access” any time.

Think of moments from your past when you feel you really excelled. Maybe it’s a presentation where you came across as particularly confident, or a meeting where you shared an idea that was well received. Make a mental note of those experiences so they can be readily called to mind during stressful moments.

Its important plan ahead rather than wait until a high-stakes situation arises. And you can start now:  Take some time today to think of several noteworthy experiences you’ve had that made you feel like the best, most confident and competent version of yourself. Recalling those experiences beforehand, when you are relaxed, will make it easier for you to bring them to mind later when you’re about to walk in to a job interview, give an important presentation or start a critical conversation.

Remembering occasions in your past when you accomplished what you set out to do – when you interacted successfully with a group or manager, or got a promotion– will remind you that you do indeed have what it takes to excel. And this, in turn, will boost your confidence so you can do it again.

And what’s more, neuroscience supports this practice.  As we repeatedly access these positive thoughts, neural pathways are created in our brains.  This makes us more likely to continue thinking positively about ourselves in the future.

This first technique you can begin implementing today. Stay tuned for the next one!

Leadership Presence

The Greater Impact of Call Me Ted!

Call Me Ted, the legendary media mogul’s biography, is fascinating reading, and I had Ted Turner’s life story very much in mind when I recently  had the privilege of covering his  80th birthday party for CNN.

The guests included Al Gore, Jane Fonda, Wolf Blitzer, Christiane Amanpour, Sanjay Gupta, Judy Woodruff, Chris Tucker and other industry leaders and celebrities.

But while it was certainly an experience to be in the company of such accomplished individuals all paying tribute to CNN’s legendary founder, what was most revealing about who Ted Turner really is were the other guests. They included his  long- time housekeeper, hairdresser, Montana ranch workers ,lifelong friends and his children and grandchildren.

It was Miss Lily, his housekeeper of 30 years,whose tribute to Ted touched me the most. She spoke about her love for her boss, the man who insisted she call him Ted.

Lily was followed by Ted’s Brown College roommate who spoke eloquently about his buddy’s loyalty, humor and fearless courage. Then George McKerrow, Ted’s partner at Ted’s Montana Grill, took the stage and spoke about Ted’s passion, philanthropy, vision, and love of bison.

It was these moments that stood out the most because while Ted Turner founded CNN and Turner Broadcasting and gave a billion dollars to the UN, what makes him most extraordinary is that he still picks up litter, switches off unnecessary lights, is good friends with all three of his ex-wives and treats the people who work for him with same dignity and respect that he accords presidents and politicians.

“Call Me Ted” reminds us that failure, trials and tribulations are all part of life’s journey and that success is a zig zag, not a straight line. And it is Ted Turner’s respect and regard for all of the people that he has encountered on his life’s journey that makes him such an extraordinary human being.

I Can See You Naked! Nixing Your Nerves

Given the choice of having a root canal or giving a speech, many opt for the former. Indeed, few tasks are more intimidating for many than giving a public speech or presentation.

One of the more popular suggestions for combatting nerves and feeling less intimidated is to visualize your audience naked.The idea is that if you could visualize your audience without their clothes they would appear more human, and therefore you would feel less vulnerable.

Well, while this may work for some, there are far more effective ways of dealing with the nerves that tend to hijack us before an important meeting, job interview or high-stakes presentation.
I like to take a multi-pronged approach, both mental and physical, to nix the nerves and project confidence, competence and charisma. You can call it Nadia’s Five Step Fix:

Step 1: Don’t fight it; feel it. In a high-stakes situation like this, a certain level of anxiety is entirely permissible. So, rather than fighting your nerves, embrace them. Doing so takes care of the unnecessary additional tension that fighting your nerves contributes to the situation.

Step 2: Practice, practice, practice. Nothing beats preparation. Accordingly, make sure that you plan preparation time and then practice until you are entirely comfortable with the material, so comfortable that you can recall your material even if you are slightly nervous. It is particularly important that you practice what you are going to say at the start of your presentation, meeting or conversation.

Step 3: Take the medicine of positive past memories. Developing a series of positive past memories is the most powerful antidote we have to nerves. Start by making an inventory of the highlights of the past few years of your life. Really think about your unique achievements and capabilities.

Step 4: BREATHE. Deep breathing neutralizes the adrenaline in the body. This simple physical approach is wonderfully calming and effective, which leads me to

Step 5: Contract and relax your muscles. The easiest way to do this is clench your fists tight, hold your breath and then release the air.

I assure you if you take the steps above and if you speak at a relaxed pace and pause regularly you will feel much more confident and project competence and charisma.