True or False: The title of The Influential Conversationalist changed four times before getting the green light as the name of my latest book.
True or False: “Grab Life by the Balls” was one of the working titles for the book.
If you said both statements were “True” you’re correct!
There was a period of about three weeks in which I contemplated an “edgy” title for the book. The cover idea was easy, me with an armful of sports balls and equipment. It made perfect sense because I’ve spent my entire life in sports. It also made sense because the statement gave a directive, instructed reader to take action and with a tone that suggested, “You better get out of my way.”
In the end I settled on The Influential Conversationalist as a safer title and one that described the content of the book better. However, if you use the conversation strategies in The Influential Conversationalist you’ll not only develop your leadership potential as the title suggests, but you will have the opportunity to grab life by whatever it is you’d like.
I’ve worked around athletes my entire career and every day I see the importance of controlling what you can control and making the most of your opportunities.
All of that is expressed in this recent press release that was picked up by over 200 media outlets including Yahoo Finance.
Jen Mueller Grabs Life by the Balls.
And she helps readers to do the same in her newest book titled, The Influential Conversationalist: Conversation skills that develop leadership potential.
Nearly two decades of experience in sports broadcasting means Jen has been talking about balls (and other sports equipment) with well-known athletes the rest of us only dream of having a few moments with.
The new book is already flooded with praise from the likes of NFL sideline reporters Erin Andrews, Pam Oliver, Alex Flanagan, and Laura Okmin, as well as NFL Pro-Bowlers Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, and Doug Baldwin (who also provided the foreword).
Jen’s humorous, no-nonsense approach to career development is refreshing and accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Unlike others who might shy away from the big topics, Jen challenges sacred cows and the most common excuses in chapters like, “Does This Make My Bias Look Big?” and “Sexism Versus Poor Communication Skills.”
What makes this book different? Jen’s access to professional athletes provides a unique and interesting perspective – with lots of direct stories from her interactions (including an answer to the common “What’s it really like in the locker room?” question, and the story of how she wound up with her very own Super Bowl ring). Her approach leads to a fun, engaging, and interesting read, with practical tips that demonstrate how strong communication skills set the stage for career development opportunities in any field.
But don’t take our word for it, listen to Seahawks Pro-Bowler Doug Baldwin, who says: “You’re not always going to know what to say, and sometimes what you say won’t come out right, but if you use the techniques Jen demonstrates in the book you’ll be well on your way to communicating more effectively, becoming an Influential Conversationalist and finding new ways to lead.”
About Talk Sporty to Me and The Influential Conversationalist
Jen Mueller’s passion for improving the way people approach business communication motivated her to launch Talk Sporty to Me in 2009. The company facilitates corporate training on how to make sports conversations useful in business, and provides an outside-the-box approach to business communication. The Influential Conversationalist is now available on Amazon.
I’m open to talking about this more. In fact, if you would like me to be a guest on your podcast or provide a guest post for your blog, let’s chat. In the meantime, download a free preview of The Influential Conversationalist.
Jen Mueller is a dynamic speaker and thought-leader in developing conversation skills that work in business. She bases her approach on nearly two decades in sports broadcasting. Jen is the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks and a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team. She’s the gal you want for an entertaining, outside-the-box presentation on business communication.
The best stories don’t start with the line, “Everything went exactly as I planned.”
Not only is it unrealistic, it’s boring.
If there’s no adversity, no challenges, no wackadoodle people to deal with, you’re not left with much of a story. You’re left with a statement. One that most people can’t relate to.
People do relate to the hero archetype. Think of every hero in every story you have ever heard – they needed to overcome some shortcoming to save the day. It’s a story we watch unfold over and over again. We relate to the hero and want to be the person who saves the day.
So, let me ask you this question – when was the last time you gave yourself an opportunity to overcome a career challenge?
“Going through adversity you learn a lot about yourself – figure out how to react and move in situations.” Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman told me. “[You learn] how you affect others and how you can affect other situations.”
That comment came from a conversation Sherman and I had last year while I was preparing to write my latest book The Influential Conversationalist. He drew a quick comparison to how playing sports at any level develops leadership traits.
“Playing sports hardens you mentally in some ways and helps you deal with [adversity], because you deal with the lows,” Sherman explained. “If your team lost the game, or they’ve lost every game, you deal with how to cope with that in your everyday life. Then you deal with the other side: in winning a whole bunch of games, and making a game winning shot, and being successful. You understand that’s not final. That’s not definitive and you should treat them the same.”
“I think sports is a good parallel to life,” he continued, “and the unexpected things, and the adversity that can come during your lifetime and how you react to that. Every time you reach adversity you can choose to react a certain way, and how you react defines your path.”
Nearly 12 months after that conversation, Sherman is dealing with his own adversity. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the Seahawks win against Arizona. His season is done and he faces a long recovery.
After the game, I walked over to give Sherman a hug. Both of us choked back tears as he said, “Jen, you know I’m gonna come back from this.”
Sherman is facing adversity, preparing to overcome challenges and play the hero in his own story.
You should be giving yourself a chance to do the same. You might not want to face adversity or acknowledge you’re going to be anything but brilliant at work. Trust me (and Sherman). You need to fail. You need to have the opportunity to make mistakes, develop a way to bounce back and become better as a result.
I recommend finding ways to fail as part of a career development strategy. It’s in Chapter 6 of The Influential Conversationalist and available as a free download right here. You’ll get practical advice from the Seahawks and ways to identify your next biggest career opportunity.
You’ll also be in position to tell an interesting story and become the hero of your own career.
Jen Mueller is The Influential Conversationalist, as well as the radio sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks. Jen founded Talk Sporty to Me in 2009 and teaches business professionals how to make sports conversations useful in business. Hire Jen for an outside-the-box approach to business communication Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com
We’re doing this wrong. Any child will tell you the truth. Name-calling isn’t nice. Yelling at someone isn’t polite. And there’s value in practicing the Golden Rule. Those standards of decorum are enforced in kindergarten classrooms everywhere, but less likely to be practiced by adults.
Here’s what I’m getting at – we’re not disagreeing like adults.
It doesn’t matter the topic. The mode, method and delivery are missing the mark just about everywhere you look. Disagreements happen and differing opinions exist. So does a better way of handling those situations.
I talk for a living. I actually talk sports for a living. But more importantly I talk to human beings for a living. After nearly two decades in sports, I’m well-practiced at asking questions, assessing the environment and engaging in conversations. I don’t always agree with what people say, decisions that are made or the way opinions get expressed, but it’s still my job to provide information and present different points of view with a level of tact.
- Sharpen Your Senses. Watching life through a screen (television, smart phone, tablet) stimulates your emotions, but dulls your senses. This leads to a lack of empathy and understanding. Using your senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, feel) to assess a situation can help you navigate, and maybe even diffuse a tense conversation by seeing how the other person is affected.
- Avoid Being “Never” Minded. Here’s another way to say it, avoid judging people’s actions or comments based on what you would never For example, a statement like; “I would never stay up past midnight on a work night,” seems innocuous because it’s a true statement about you. If you’re not careful however, it can lead to you making judgements against someone who does what you would never do. Avoid using any variation of the phrase, “I would never do that.” It’s one of the most practical ways to demonstrate having an open mind.
- Respond Instead of React. This isn’t a gameshow. The first person to react doesn’t score a point or win a prize. You can, however, win respect by formulating an appropriate response. Show discernment with your words. Your response can still be one of disagreement, but demonstrate discipline to avoid adding fuel to a potentially explosive interaction.
- Agree to disagree – from the beginning. That phrase is often used to bring a disagreement to a somewhat peaceful conclusion. It shouldn’t be the end of the conversation it should be the beginning. When you agree to differing viewpoints from the outset you change the purpose of the entire interaction. It becomes a fact-finding mission. You’re not fighting to win a debate. As a result, you’re less concerned with keeping score and interested in what the other person is actually saying. You’re less likely to get distracted trying to remember your counterpoints. In addition, both parties are more likely to listen with empathy and understanding when it’s determined up front neither person is keeping score.
- Commit to tunnel vision. I know you are smart enough to link a single debate or topic to a myriad of other discussion points, but as an adult I also know you also have the ability to keep the main thing the main thing. Show restraint. Stay on topic. Agree on the real issue being discussed and resist the urge to add additional layers to the conversation.
I engage in back and forth conversations daily about trivial matters like, “How do you define an MVP season?” “What stats matter most?” or “Who’s the best quarterback of all time?”
They’re typical sports conversations, ones that help you practice face-to-face interactions in low-leverage situations. Sure, those debates can turn heated with overly-passionate fans, but in general sports scores and highlight-driven discussions (i.e. biggest plays of the game, best player performances, etc., discussions related directly to game-action, not social causes.) are a good way to practice, not just your conversation skills, but your ability to disagree like an adult.
Disagreements are going to happen. Make sure you have the skills to handle those situations graciously and position yourself in the best possible way. I bet you’d hate to find out you weren’t even considered for a project or promotion because of your ineffectiveness in dealing with disagreements. Start practicing today and for conversation strategies, pick up my new book The Influential Conversationalist. It takes you through daily conversation that build leadership potential and includes insight from some of the professional athletes I work with.
Influential Conversationalist, Jen Mueller is the author of three books, the founder of Talk Sporty to Me and a professional sports broadcaster. She currently serves as the Seattle Seahawks radio sideline reporter and is a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team. She’s got a unique approach to business communication and presents compelling content in corporate training sessions. For inquires, or to hire Jen email her directly: Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com
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