“Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

I recently had the opportunity to attend Larry Benet’s SANG – an inspiring gathering of the top speakers, authors, executive coaches, social entrepreneurs, website designers, social media experts and internet marketers in the world.

What a great few days it was – leading-edge insights from Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy, Leigh Steinberg (the “original” Jerry Maguire), Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank, Ken Kragen (creator of We are the World and Hands Across America) and the brilliant Peter Diamantis, founder of the X Prize.

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, led a panel on the future of publishing.

With Amazon.com now selling more Kindle books than hardback and paperback books combined (!), and with books now available on aps, everyone was wondering, “What’s next?”

Well, what’s next is INTERACTIVE books – such as the new book from Al Gore from PushPOPPress.com which includes such gee-whiz features as QR codes. Just point your smartphone at one and it whisks you to websites and video clips.

What was clear though is that while the future of books is rapidly changing; the future of your book still depends on how clearly, crisply and compellingly you pitch it.

For example, someone at the program asked me, “What do you think of this idea for my next book?”

Hmmm. A few minutes later, I still had no idea what his book was about.

Yikes.

I told him, “This is why I wrote POP!

At our first Maui Writers Conference, we gave participants an unprecedented opportunity to pitch directly to top agents and editors. It was a rare opportunity to jump the chain of command and meet one-to-one with publishing decision-makers who had the power to give you a deal on the spot.

The first question in the pitch session was usually along the lines of, ‘What’s your book about? Why is it different or better than what’s already available?’

Brain freeze.

Many of the participants wasted ther ten minute-golden opportunity desperately trying to describe their book.

By then, it was too late.

See, publishers think, “If you’re not clear what your book’s about and why it’s worth buying, your readers won’t be either.”

I told my lunch partner, “Your goal is to create a 60 second or less book hook that passes the following 3 question test.

1. Do people UNDERSTAND what your book’s about? (Could they explain it to someone else after hearing your description?)

2. Are they INTRIGUED by what you just said? (Did their eyebrows go up? Are they motivated to want to know more?)

3. Can they REPEAT what you just said? (If they can’t repeat it, you’ll be “out of sight, out of mind.” Not good.)

How about you? Have you crafted a succinct elevator pitch for your book?

When people ask, “What’s your book about?” does your response elicit an enthusiastic “I want to read that!” If so, good for you.

If not, you might want to get a copy of my POP Your Pitch CD or MP3.

POP! Your Pitch & Proposal  (A MP3 digital audio download 62 min.)

POP! Your Pitch & Proposal

This one-hour program features my step-by-step, proven approach to creating pithy, powerful, persuasive pitches that have helped my consulting clients get publishers, TV/radio/print journalists, meeting planners and readeres interested in what their book has to say.

Be prepared to take notes. You’ll discover why I’m called The Pitch Whisperer and why these “can-use-it-immediately” techniques have been featured on MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and FastCompany.com.

Hope these POP! Your Pitch techniques help you win buy-in for your book so your message gets out in the world and makes a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.

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Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 3,

By Sam Horn, The IntrigueExpert

This is the final post detailing the excellence in action that Guy Kawasaki demonstrated during his keynote for Ruth Stergiou’s Invent Your Future Conference in NoCA.

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action Part 3, By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action

Actually, there were many more things Guy did extraordinarily well . . . however these blog posts are already long enough.

Want to know what I suggest? Go see Guy in person if you have a chance.

I am a firm believer that our personal and professional impact is directly proportionate to our ability to communicate compellingly and convincingly.

If you’d like to turn no’s into yes’s – if you’d like to win buy-in from the people who have the power to scale your career, buy your products or services or support your message and mission – do yourself a favor and study great communicators like Guy (on the stage) and Seth Godin (on the page).

Then, adopt and adapt (don’t copy) their masterful approaches so you too know how to capture and keep everyone’s attention and respect – from start to finish.

7. Guy featured a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

“Let’s give em something to talk about.” – Bonnie Raitt

Hmmm. Let’s see.  Grateful Dead. Check. Steve Jobs. Check.

Personal examples. Professional examples. Check. Check.

United States anecdotes. International anecdotes. Yep.

Fortune 500 success stories. Small business success stories. Yep. Yep.

Some speakers commit the cardinal sin of focusing solely on a few “favorites.” sports. Kids. Corporate life. That leaves some people out. They may not like sports, don’t have kids or work for themselves.

Guy gave everyone something to “talk about.” By using a wide range of “demographically-correct” reference points, he made sure everyone felt included, honored and acknowledged.

The eclectic mix kept us eager for what’s next. Novelists call this a page-turner. The speaker equivalent is a “seat-edger,” as in, “We were on the edge of our seats the whole time.”

One of the most effective ways Guy modeled this was by using “pulled from the headlines” or “signs on the street” slides to prove his points.

For example, he mentioned he was just in New England checking out colleges with his kids. To illustrate how “disenchantment” can be caused by overcomplicating things, he popped up a Smartphone photo showing a sign from an Ivy League university campus that went into great detail on how to . . . (wait for it) cross the street.

Embedding his point in a recent, first-person story lent instant credibility to his case because it had currency. This isn’t
tired shtick – it just occurred yesterday or last week.

And he did this with EACH of his points – providing a “couldn’t see it coming” reference that explored the point in a compelling, convincing and creative way.

If you’re about to give a presentation, go back over your planned remarks. Double check that you have balanced gender, age, ethnic, work-life, geographic and industry diversity.

And, hold up a prop! Make it show not tell. Sharing an article from THAT day’s newspaper that’s relevant to your topic will charm your audience and turn “blah-blah-blah” into “rah-rah-rah.”

8. Guy was in his “Tony Bennett” zone.

“I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubenstein

Have you ever had the distinct privilege of seeing and hearing Tony Bennett in concert? If not, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket for his next concert in your area.

Tony Bennett is the consummate entertainer. Not just because he has a voice like “butta” and not just because he’s a great song stylist.

It’s because Tony Bennett LOVES HIS AUDIENCE . . . and isn’t afraid to show it. When singers (or speakers) love what they’re doing, we love ‘em back.

Tony may have sung I Left my Heart in San Francisco a thousand times but you’d never know it. He gifts each audience by singing that song as if for the first time.

What many speakers don’t understand is that our audiences will feel the way we feel.

We won’t have fun if you’re not having fun. If you’re not happy to be up there – we’re not happy to be down here.

We want speakers who welcome the opportunity to add value and who show up fully present with an unapologetic, unabashed personality.

Too many speakers dread speaking. I remember attending a book-author event in Washington, DC , where a famous actress who’d just written a memoir got up and said, “I rather be dead drunk in a gutter than standing up here speaking to you today.”

Yikes. How do you think that made us feel?

Guy brought his A game and his whole self to the party. Guy was in his body, in his element and in the moment. And when speakers invest themselves 100%– we feel lucky to be along for the ride – because it’s a great ride.

9. Guy replaced wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

“The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Actually, as explained in a recent Newsweek cover story entitled Brain Freeze, the world is not made up of atoms; it’s
made up of information. And we’re drowning in it.

We don’t want more information. We want epiphanies.  And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information. We get them from “WWW” stories” that vividly portray Who, Where and What was said.  WWW stories are pulled from real-life – NOT from the internet or from your colleague’s books.

If we wanted stories from the Internet or from your colleagues
books – we’d go online or go buy those other people’s books.

When you speak, we want to hear what you think, what you have experienced, what you have gleaned. And we want you to re-enact those lessons-learned so we’re in the room with you as they happened.

We want you to make your story our story by putting us in the story. You can do this by putting yourself back in the moment
and place it happened and describing:

WHO? Describe the individuals involved with specific physical and emotional details so we can SEE him or her in our mind’s
eye and know what’s going through their mind.

WHERE? Put us in the room, on the plane or in the pool (or as Nancy Duarte – author/speaker on Resonance
did so vividly in her keynote that day – put us on Half Dome). Make us a fly on the wall so we’re standing right next to you.

WHAT WAS SAID? Re-create and re-quote the dialogue so it’s as if it’s happening right NOW.

For example, Guy shared a story where he was speaking for a client in South America and realized, shortly before his talk, that he had a washing machine made by this manufacturer.

Understanding this was an “enchantment opportunity,” he quickly texted his sons and asked them to take a picture of the family washing machine and send it to him so he could incorporate it into his program.

Here’s where Guy got it right (yet again.)

Instead of just mentioning his sons sent him the photos – he put up a slide that showed the actual back and forth texting from his sons. He talked us through the chain of events and turned it into an unfolding mystery that brought it alive and brought it home. Guy’s message had the ring of truth – because it was true. Kudos.

10. Guy created the exquisite state of entrainment.

“What did the meditation teacher tell the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.” – poster in yoga studio

Have you ever experienced that lovely peak performance state of flow?

If you’re an athlete, maybe you were immersed in your golf, tennis or basketball game and played out of your head (literally and figuratively).

If you play an instrument, perhaps you lost yourself in the music and weren’t even aware of the passage of time.

If you’re an artist or author, the world slipped away and you were completely absorbed In your painting, dancing or writing.

That flow sate – when we are one with what we are doing – is also called “entrainment.”

And Guy created it. There was no shuffling in the seats. No checking of watches or email. We got swept up in his world.

Everyone who’s experienced this state of flow knows it is a powerful and persuasive high. Everyone was bliss-fully entrained– or as Guy calls it – enchanted.

As The Intrigue Expert and author of POP!, ConZentrate and Win Buy-In, I have studied the art and science of entrainment for the past 20 years.

What I have learned is that while we can’t force it, we can facilitate it.

The ten ingredients above all combine to create entrainment.

The good news is, you can too.

Yes, Guy is a master at what he does. The good news is that speaking eloquently and “intriguingly” is a skill that can be acquired. I know this because I’ve helped many entrepreneurs and executives create more compelling, convincing communications.

We can all get better at this because these are replicable steps.

Do you have a presentation coming up? Use these 10 points as a checklist while preparing your communication so your audience will be seat-edgers.

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

1. Have us at hello by leaving out the parts people skip.

2. Engage everyone’s head and heart with facts and feelings.

3. Condense your concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

4. Have the courage to be counter-intuitive.

5. Honor your family, mentors and contributors.

6. Use the power of three to create oratorical flow.

7. Feature a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

8. Get in your “Tony Bennett” zone.

9. Replace wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

10. Create entrainment by getting in the flow.

If you do these things, your audience will care about what you care about. They’ll be engaged and enchanted from start to finish. You will have delivered substantive value and they’ll be more likely to buy into and act on your ideas and initiatives.

And isn’t that a primary reason we communicate?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, and author of POP! and Win Buy-In, is an award-winning communication strategist who’s worked with clients including Cisco, Intel and NASA.

Her work has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and in Readers Digest, the Washington Post, New York Times and Investors Business Daily.

She helps people crystallize their strategic, signature message and get it out of their head and where it can make a positive difference for others and a profitable living for themselves. . www.SamHorn.com Sam@SamHorn.com

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action,

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

 “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” – Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead

I’m always keeping my antenna up for people who are one-of-a-kind at what they do.

I had the privilege of seeing one in action last week.

As The Intrigue Expert and a communication strategist for the past 25 years; I’ve seen and given thousands of presentations. (Really).

So, when I say Guy Kawasaki’s keynote at the Invent Your Future conference in Silicon Valley was one of the best presentations I’ve ever experienced, that’s saying something.

I was compelled to take notes because it’s a privilege to watch a master in action.

I shared my observations with Guy afterwards and am sharing them here so you can learn from his shining example and adopt/adapt some of his approaches so you can enchant (and intrigue) your future audiences.

Here’s why Guy’s keynote Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Action was a perfect 10.

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) -sam horn

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted)

Please note: I’ve distilled this debrief of his brilliant presentations into three blog posts. Check back the next couple days to read and reap additional techniques.

      1.   Guy had us at hello.

“You’ve got to be a good date for the reader.” – Kurt Vonnegut

No perfunctory opening remarks. That would have been predictable and predictable is boring.

Guy pleasantly surprised everyone by starting with an amusing riff about how most speakers run long and no one’s ever angry at a speaker for ending early so he was going to jump right into things.

Guy knows people are BBB – (Busy, Bored or Been there-heard that) and that we make up our minds in the first 60 seconds whether someone is worth our valuable time, mind and dime.

He earned our good will in the first few minutes by being a “good date” and by kicking off with humor vs. the old-fashioned “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em approach ” which would have had us reaching for our smart phones.

Bestselling author Elmore Leonard gave a keynote at the Maui Writers Conference (which I emceed for 17 years.) During the Q & A, a participant asked, “Why are your books so popular?” “Dutch” smiled and said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Guy was instantly popular because he left out the parts people skip.

      2.    Guy engaged our head and heart – our left and right brain – with facts and feelings.

“I never developed a plan for where I was going. I just counted on one interesting job segueing into the next. I let the universe do its work.” – Bernadette Peters

Any extreme is unhealthy. Many speakers (think engineers, IT professionals, physicians, professors, etc.) focus primarily on data, theories and facts. This makes for a lopsided speech because it’s long on logic but short on interest.

Other presenters (think motivational speakers) share inspiring stories but there’s no “meat” – no tangible takeaways we can apply to reap real-world results.

Guy was a sublime balance of head and heart. He let us know from the get-go he’d distilled his presentation into ten insights and 45 minutes.

People love top ten lists because it indicates you’ve done the homework for us and edited the superfluous, which means we’ll be hearing only the most salient points, the best of the best.

Anxiety is defined in two words: “not knowing.” If we don’t know how long this is going to take or the format, we may resent the speaker because, in a way, they’re keeping us in the dark and holding us hostage.

Covering 10 points (or 7 steps or 6 keys or whatever) in a specified amount of time builds pace and momentum and keeps a speaker on track because you don’t have time to ramble. Logical left-brainers think “Oh, good. This is clearly going to be bottom-line and a good use of my time because it’s measurable and replicable.”

Furthermore, a 10 point plan provides one of the quickest organizational constructs known to humankind because it provides an easy-to-understand-and-follow pattern. Listeners feel they’re in “the Allstate Plan” (they’re in good hands) and feel well-led as one interesting point segues into the next.

Better yet, Guy balanced rhetoric (words) with photos (senses) throughout his presentation. Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) because he “peopled his points.” His beautifully produced slides featured intellectually satisfying ideas, visually stunning images and named individuals which produced a holistic sense of symmetry. Well done!

      3.    Guy condensed his concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

“    Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

“Invoke reciprocity”.

“Conduct a ‘Premortum.”

“Incur a Debt.”

“Frame Thy Competition.”

“Separate the Believers.”

These are just a few of Guy’s featured sound-bites (and chapter titles).

How could you NOT want to know more?

Guy got his ideas in our mental front door because he was not content to be common.

Instead of lazily sharing platitudes and clichés (“Make it a win-win. It’s all about team.”), he coined first-of-their-kind phrases that got our eyebrows up.

(Side note: What’s The Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP! that gives you a way to test how compelling your communication is . . anywhere, anytime . . . in 5 seconds . . . for free.

Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP!

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP

You don’t have to convene a focus group and spend thousands of dollars to determine whether your idea is commercially-viable.

Simply tell someone your main point (or your elevator speech, business name, book title, the first 60 seconds of your pitch/presentation, or the first paragraph of your marketing copy) . . . and watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows knit or furrow, it means they’re confused. They didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it, you won’t get it.

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP.

Try it right now. Lift your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued? Curious? Like you want to know more?

THAT’s your goal as a communicator – to get the eyebrows up of busy, distracted decision-makers because it means you just got your message in their mental door.)

Guy’s succinct sound-bites made his content POP! Because no matter how many books we’ve read or seminars we’ve attended, we’d never heard this before.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t developed it yet. By developing original take-aways and NURDS (new words like Premortum), Guy made his content memorable and sticky.

Unique sound-bites give his content a long tail of influence. People love “the next new thing” and are more likely to share freshly-phrased ideas around the water-cooler – which means they’ll become Guy’s tribe and take his work viral by becoming his voluntary word-of-mouth ambassadors.

Phrases like “invoke reciprocity” are also monetizable and merchandisable.

People will pay for refrigerator magnets (or coffee mugs or t-shirts) with catchy phrases like this. This keeps you and your proprietary ideas “in sight-in-mind” with your target customers which gives your material even longer legs. It’s all good.

Check the next blog to discover more ways Guy demonstrated
platform brilliance.

It happened again.

I went to a conference last week and met dozens of smart, talented entrepreneurs.

Yet when I asked them “What do you do?” or “Tell me about your business,” many couldn’t quickly communicate what they did in a way I got it and wanted it.

Talk about lost opportunity costs.

if you care about your company, cause, creative idea or campaign; the ball’s in YOUR court to craft an intriguing elevator intro so the next time someone asks “What do you do?” you can respond in a way that sets up a meaningful and memorable conversation and connection.

For example, I met one woman in the halls and asked what she did.

Her response? “I’m a project manager.”

Argghh.

I asked, “Want to play with that?”

She said, “Sure.”

I asked, “What’s an EXAMPLE of a project you managed?”

(Using the two words FOR EXAMPLE is the quickest way to make your intro come alive bcause you’re showing vs. telling what you do. These two words turn an elevator speech into an elevator connection because people can SEE what you’re saying and relate to it.)

She said, “Well, I managed a drug launch.”

“For who? What’s their name? Or, if you need to keep your clients confidential, what size company is it?”

(Vague claims compromise credibility. You need to give enough specific detail so people trust what you’re saying is true.)

She said, “It was a billion dollar pharma company.”

(See how this intro immediately got more interesting and positioned her at a level of respect?)

I asked, “What was the timeline of what you accomplished for them? What were the measurable results?”

(When you provide details of the tangible value you’ve delivered for someone else, it sets up a When Harry Met Sally – “I’ll have what she’s having” – desire to have the same results.)

She said, “I brought the project in before deadline and under budget.”

(Who wouldn’t want that?)

“Then what happened?”

“The CEO called to thank me and said they couldn’t have done it without me.”

(Quoting a real-life endorsement POP!s our elevator intro because it provides irrefutable social proof that we have produced bottom-line value for other clients.)

I said, “From now on, SAY THAT.”

When someone asks, ‘What do you do?’ say, “I’m a project manager. For example, a couple years ago, a billion dollar pharma company asked me to oversee a drug launch. We brought it in under budget and before deadline. The CEO was so pleased, he picked up the phone to thank me and said they couldn’t have done it without me.”

Voila. Now we know exactly what she does. We’re impressed with what she does. And we can remember what she does so we could refer her to other people or seek her out if we’re in the market for a project manager.

How about YOUR elevator intro?

Can you clearly and compellingly get across what you do – in 60 seconds or less?

Can you win buy-in to your business, idea or organization in the first minute?

If so, good for you.

If not, you might want to listen to the interview I did with Karen Klein of BusinessWeek.com on this topic. You can listen to the 8 minute audio on the homepage of my website – http://www.samhorn.com/

Or, you’re welcome to email us at Sam@SamHorn.com to order my CD or e-book on “Create a Tell ‘n Sell Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deal.”

Sam Horn's Create a Intriguing Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deals.

Sam Horn's CD Create a Intriguing Elevator Intro that Opens Doors and Closes Deals.

or

“If you don’t know where you’re going; you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Thanks to Rhonda Abrams (small business columnist for USA Today and CEO of The Planning Shop – http://www.rhondaonline.com/ ) for asking me to conduct my POP! Your Pitch: Win Buy-in to Your Business in 60 Seconds workshop for the British Airways Face2Face competition last week. http://businessconnect.ba.com/contest/

What a pleasure it was coaching these 250 non-profit leaders and small business owners in the halls of the NYC event and at 30,000 feet on our chartered flight to London.

Our focus was on how to clearly, confidently and compellingly communicate the essence of your work so you can answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that gets people’s eyebrows up (a sign of curiosity).

Check out these excellent articles which capture what great productive fun it was swapping best-practice tips with 250 smart, talented social entrepreneurs.

These articles also showcase the three finalists

Pencils of Promise is committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all.

Adam Braun Pencils of Promise is now a global movement.

Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise (the ultimate winner of the competition), Danae Ringelmann of IndieGoGo and Chris Eilers of Dunn Brothers Coffee.

All three are shining examples of visionaries who have built add-value organizations that are making a positive difference for everyone involved.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-strauss/i-have-seen-the-future-of_2_b_819088.html?ref=twitter

http://blogs.wsj.com/in-charge/2011/02/03/first-stop-london-next-stop-the-world/

http://www.portfolio.com/companies-executives/2011/02/03/millennial-entrepreneur-wins-british-airways-face-of-opportunity-faceoff

During one of our brainstorming sessions, several of the contestants weren’t able to articulate their competitive edge.

I told them, “It’s hard to have a competitive edge if you don’t know exactly how you’re different.”

One asked, “How do you figure that out?”

I asked her, “You’ve heard of having your ducks in a row? Well, before you can crisply communicate your competitive advantage – you need to have your ‘W’s’ in a row.”

“What are those?” she asked.

They are the W words journalists use to figure out where they want to go with an article or interview so they can stay “on purpose.”

Print out this blog post with the W10 Form below and take it to lunch with you. Or, print out several copies and ask key employees to fill them out so you can discuss these at an upcoming staff meeting.

POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything

Hailed as one of the best business books of the year


Taking time to answer the following 10 questions (excerpted from Chapter 2 of my POP! book) can help you clarify where you’re first-of-your-kind and worth trying and buying.

W#1. What am I offering? What is my product, service or organization?

W#2. Who is my target audience, customer or decision-maker?

W#3. What problem(s) do they have that my business solves? What keeps them up at night? What worries them, frustrates them, confounds them?

W#4. What do my target customers want or need that no one else offers?

W#5. What specific, measurable action do I want people to take? Schedule a follow-up meeting? Visit our website? Buy our product? Hire us as their consultant?

W#6. What objections or resistance might people to have to my offering, products or services? Why will they say no or opt out?

W#7. What do I say/do to address and neutralize those objections so they’re a non-issue?

w#8. Who are my competitors and how am I different or better than them?

W#9. What do all my competitors have in common? How do I zig where they zag? How does our organization do the opposite of the obvious?

W#10. Who am I (or who is my organization) What are our strengths and unique abilities? What is our tangible track record of proven, measurable results?

When you (and your team) can answer each of the above “W” questions in a clear, crisp 60 seconds, you will know exactly why it’s in people’s best interests to do business with you.

And that, my friends, is a competitive advantage.

What a treat it is hanging with my writer peeps at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop here in Dayton, Ohio.

For those of you would like to be here and can’t . . . here’s a few of the most intriguing highlights.

1. Loretta LaRoche (star of many PBS Specials including Relax, You May Only Have a Few Minutes Left) is often asked “What do you think we should do about stress?” Her response? “Shut up.”

2. Nettie Hartsock – http://www.nettiehartsock.com/ – shared dozens of valuable, “can-use-that-today” tips in her session “Overwebbed; Help, I’ve Had a Social Media Meltdown and Can’t Tweet Up.”

3. Gail Collins, first woman ever appointed editor of the NY Times editorial page said, “I’ve been to a dozen inauguration addresses, and I remember Erma Bombeck’s ‘cookie tin’ column more than I do anything from them.”

4. Craig Wilson, The Last Word columnist from USA Today who is read by millions of readers across the country every Wednesday suggested we “Write as if you’re talking to your best friend.” And when asked where he finds material after producing columns week after week, year after year, he said, “Walking my dog. It’s amazing what you find out there.”

Why is Erma Bombeck so enduringly, universally relatable?

Just read this paragraph and notice the craft.

“When I took stock of myself, sitting there in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, with three unplanned chidlren, a car that didn’t run and a toliet that did – and a mother-in-law who called me ‘Edna’ – I wondered what I had that was unique, and ironically enough, I discovered something. I was ordinary, painfully middle-of-the-road, no frills, bare-boned, Midwest-beige-Our Town-ordianry….Ordinary. That was to be my turf . . .”

Erma Bombeck was far from ordinary. Look at the cadence, the rhythm of that paragraph. It’s a river of words that flowed straight from her heart to ours.

Did your parents put her columns up on your refrigerator for all to see and read? Share your Erma story – and why you think she touched so many people.

I’ll blog later this week about the morning round-tables I faciliated at the conference including “The Path to Paid Professional Speaking” and “Create the Perfect Title and Elevator Pitch.”