I usually keep meticulous records of what I read in a given year. I relish the tracking process, seeing the list of books grow with each passing month.
But this year? This year was a real rollercoaster ride—the highest of highs, the lowest of lows—and my diligent record keeping went right out the window.
As such, I’ve been doing literary forensics all week in an attempt to piece together the books that were the highlight of my reading journey this year. I’m pretty sure I’ve accounted for everything, and taken only the crème de la crème to share with you. And remember, I don’t restrict myself to books that were published in 2018 … I’ll read anything if it’s good.
In no particular order (they were all amazing, and I can’t even rank them), I give you my favorite reads of the year:
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be that speech writer that flies around the world with folks like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton? Well, you're about to get the real scoop from former White House speechwriter/foreign policy advisor Dan Benaim. I loved Dan's take on the craft of speechwriting, and he offers some incredible tips and insights for anyone hoping to take complicated ideas, and express them in memorable, repeatable ways. Listen now >>
In his 2016 TEDxSantaClara talk, Dr. Adam Dorsay discusses a common blind spot for a lot of high functioning, successful men: Emotions. In this conversation, Bronwyn and Adam unpack this phenomena and explore how un-explored emotions negatively affect the way we communicate and the way we live. Listen now >>
If left unchecked, perfectionism can undo us as communicators. Episode 5 encourages the practice of replacing our drive to be *perfect* with the drive to truly *connect* with an audience. Communicating well means telling the truth of what you know as clearly as you can, in a way that helps people... it means connecting with the needs of an audience. In this episode, you will learn how to move out of the tyranny of perfectionism, and into the flow of connection. Listen now >>
Episode 4 is about exploring the dangers of indulging in a victim narrative... even if you *are* a victim. Learn how to move out of a state of "poor me" and into a state of authentic, unflappable personal power. Listen now >>
A scarcity thought pattern has very real implications for how we communicate—we panic, we lose patience, we lose access to our own creativity. In Episode 3, we will talk about how to replace thoughts of scarcity with thoughts of abundance and sufficiency, while staying grounded in reality. Listen now >>
Episode 2 examines how the thought pattern of "us vs. them" kills our ability to connect with an audience (or another human being). In this episode, you will learn how to dismantle this pattern, and replace it with something infinitely more powerful. Listen now >>
Ever been offered this not-so-helpful piece of advice just before a big speech or job interview—"Just be yourself!" Which "self" are they talking about? We play many different roles during a given day, and we communicate differently based on the situation. What is it about authenticity that is so damn difficult when the pressure is on? In this episode, we talk about which "self" is the highest possible expression of You, and how to make sure that you've created the conditions for this self to shine through. Listen now >>
My partner-in-crime/best-selling author/host of the delicious Beautiful Writers PodcastLinda Sivertsen and I have been working for months to bring this concept, these practices and this content to life for you… and it’s finally READY!
So, what is Time Debt?
It's the misspending of time—either consciously or unconsciously—in ways that lead to a life half lived.
2017 was a year of indiscriminant literary hook ups… hardly the serial reading monogamy I usually engage in. I attribute this to some really poor book choices I made. But despite abundance of one-nightstand stands, there were some OMG reads scattered in there as well.
These are the OMG Books of my 2017. Some titles are old, most are new, but each one made my heart race, melt or break with their word wizardry, plot twists, and teachings (I effing love a good self help book).
What do Gloria Steinem, Steve Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Luna Lovegood have in common?
They’re on my Virtual Board of Advisors, and they “live” above my writing desk.
I think everyone needs a Virtual Board of Advisors.
We play so many roles in our lives—mother/father, daughter/son, teacher/student…. We move through our weeks paying bills, shuttling kids to team sports activities and birthday parties, commuting to work—white-knuckling it until Friday, when we can finally relax and binge watch TV.
There’s nothing wrong with these activities, per se.
But if my life were the sum total of only these things, I might lose what few marbles I have.
That’s what the Virtual Board of Directors does for me—they remind me that there is a lot more to life (and a lot more to ME) than just going through the motions of driving, feeding, clothing and emotionally supporting the people around me.
Have you ever been in a conversation, or in a meeting, and suddenly someone says something to you that cuts you to the core?
You start asking yourself questions like:
“Wait, did she/he just say something shitty, or am I imagining this?”
“Am I ok here?”
“Did I just do something bad? Say the wrong thing?”
I’ve found that most psychic attacks aren’t shouty or obvious to the outside observer, but to the recipient, they hurt like hell. And they usually come out of nowhere, catching us completely off guard.
It can feel like a trap door opens beneath you, and down you go, your dignity and confidence trailing behind you. Or maybe your stomach turn to liquid, your throat suddenly feels tight, or your mouth gets dry.
One of my favorite techniques as a communication coach was given to me (albeit indirectly) by my daughter when she was barely 2 months old.
It was 2006, I had just had Stella, and was back to work with almost no childcare whatsoever. I was a train wreck. My identity was wobbly, none of the time management techniques that had worked for me in the past made any sense, and I was chronically exhausted from trying to front like I had it all under control. One night, in a state of desperation, I went online to seek out information on mindfulness, positive thinking, coping techniques for overwhelm… anything to get me through the next 24 hours.
I came across one piece of advice that made me furious:
Tell yourself a story of abundance... No matter what your schedule says, repeat this phrase to yourself:
It was sometime around 1999 or 2000, and I had recently announced my decision to leave my job at Blanc & Otus for the greener pastures of Scient. Word had made its way around B&O that I was moving on, and when I saw our CEO, Jonelle Birney, approaching me in the hallway, I assumed she’d heard the news as well.
As she got closer to me, a pit opened up in my stomach. How would she react? Would she be angry at me for abandoning my clients and the few folks who reported to me at the time? Was I even a blip on her radar screen? I mean, jeeze, maybe she didn’t even know how to pronounce my name!
It’s that time of year, friends… it time to take stock of the year, and report back on what we read that was worth reading.
Normally, my list is dominated by fiction. But this year? Of my 10 favorite reads only ONE is fiction. It’s not that I didn’t read fiction, I did. I read plenty. But only one of them passed the “OH MY GOD… you HAVE to read this book…” test.
the final installment of Manterruptions, Mansplaining & Bropropriations.
To the men who have followed this series… two words:
It takes a lot of courage to go into the belly of the gender imbalance beast in our culture. It takes even more courage to take on the perspective of someone else, and these pieces were definitely written from a woman’s perspective for a female audience. So I honor you and thank you.
Mansplain (verb) : (of a man) To explain (something) condescendingly to a female listener, especially something she already knows, presuming that she has an inferior understanding of it because she is a woman.
Thanks to this delightful election cycle (and by "delightful" I mean "vile"), I’ve been hearing the words “manterruption" and "mansplaining” every five minutes. In the next few installments, I’ll be offering some techniques and tools for women on the receiving end of these behaviors. And to our male allies, read on! The more you know, the more progress we can make together.
By 5:00 p.m. last Wednesday, I was completely drained and exhausted.
And no wonder, it had been an incredibly productive day: I started a blog post and had a fantastic coaching session with a brand new client, I got closer to closing two new accounts and sent out my first-ever piece of email marketing. In between clients and hours on the computer, I ran all manner of suburban mother errands.
“You are so pathetic. You had a normal work day, and look at you. You want a NAP? Are you nuts? You have three kids, homework, and dinner to cook next. Get your sh*t together. Keep moving. Pour a glass of wine. Have another cup of coffee. Do something. But for God’s sake, have some self-respect and don’t lie down.”
There’s a reason people use the word “presence” interchangeably with “charisma.” Just the simple act of being here in this moment, being mindfully present with another human being can be so powerful that people instantly notice it.
Grant describes the danger of being “authentic” at all times, and how it can lead to blurting out all manner of inappropriate things to people, and how your life will come to a screeching halt if you let authenticity have free reign over your mouth.
This little piece of wisdom is often repeated by my father. When I was growing up, he used it in the context of child rearing, but as I became an adult, I realized that this phrase is every bit as relevant to our interactions with grown ups as it is to parenting kids.