Gina’s recipe for Pear Scones

I know I regularly write about how to improve business communications, but since I firmly believe we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life – I am taking this moment to share something from my life – that I find pretty tasty!

scones 2

Since moving to Ireland, I have discovered scones are an integral part of life.  If it’s morning time and you walk into a café, a coffee shop or a diner, there will be scones.  One of the companies I am consulting with at the moment has a monthly communications meeting from all the department heads.  Before the employees walk into the conference room, they pause to take a scone from the heap of them on the long table out front.  The typical trifecta of flavors are “Brown” with wholewheat flour, “Fruit” – which usually translates as raisins or currants, or “Plain,” uhm, which is plain.

Scones are served with fresh whipped cream, Irish butter or jam to be slathered on.  And they’re not just for breakfast, either.  The first time I met someone for afternoon tea, the waitress asked me, “Would you like a scone with your tea?”

I like the scones here.  They’re not the dried out, flattened biscuits that are passed as scones in other parts of the world.  They’re dense yet still moist.

Interestingly, I have never had a pear scone here in Ireland – that I didn’t make myself.  I’ve been baking mine for about four years from some recipe I found online when we lived in Italy long before I ever imagined I would be moving to Ireland. I don’t remember the official source, since I hand-copied the recipe and the slip of paper now lives in my recipe box.  So, I don’t claim to have created this recipe, but I am happy to share it with you as “mine.”

Without further ado, here is my recipe for Pear Scones! Slainte!

Gina’s Pear Sconesscones

2 Cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ Cup white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ Cup diced fresh pear

5 tablespoons cold butter

1 Cup cream (or half regular milk and half vanilla yogurt, which I have substituted when out of cream – and it worked great!)

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until tiny crumbs.  Stir in diced pear and the liquid. This dough is pretty sticky – but that’s fine. Turn out onto floured service and lightly knead.  I put it then into an 8 inch cake pan and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle top with white sugar –(I prefer caster sugar, which is really fine white sugar you can get here in Ireland/UK easily –  if you have it.)

Bake at 220C/400 F for 12/15 minutes

I cut mine in wedges although all the scones here are round.  I suppose you could easily cut the dough with an overturned and lightly floured glass if you’d prefer the round shape.

Et voila! I hope you like them.

Cheers, and happy life!

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.  

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Practice makes Perfect. Or Does it?!

For the first time in the twenty years that I have been leading communications training programs, I got push-back that:

 Practice Makes Perfect.”

I was in Singapore just over a week ago working with a group of twenty managers from all over the region (photo above is me obviously after the training). I was recording each participant as he or she delivered a message. An executive questioned my practice recommendation saying:

 I don’t know. I think I lose the true emotion of what I am trying to say. I think the spontaneity is gone.”

I welcome all challenges. Good dialogue helps us learn more about each other’s perspectives. It also compels me to reflect and reconsider my approaches and opinions. So, we put it to the test. I doubled back to the participant who had just completed his first round video recording and had him give it a second go on-camera.

He edited his content from his previous attempt which made his wording tighter, more concise.

The group agreed that his second time was stronger. But what about his “emotional spontaneity”?

boy-on-piano
Don’t give up! You can do it! Practice!

Did he give up some of his initial extemporaneous expressions for those of a more contrived nature? My loyal adversary watched the recordings a couple days later (I give all my participants copies of their video clips to keep) and emailed me that to him, there was a natural and emphatic “blink in the eyes” that you couldn’t have repeated on command with the same impact.

Without debating the impact derived from a single blink, let’s broaden the topic to consider overall impact from a lengthy speech. What are the benefits of practice? Here are some of my reasons:

Why Practice?

1. You will KNOW your material. More than anything else, practice will prevent you from losing your train of thought or completely omitting a point. I don’t have to toss a stone too far on this one to hit Sarah Palin’s recent rambling ad-lib-a-thon US presidential endorsement of Donald Trump.

(This, of course, presumes you have actually written a script or an outline or something on which you can practice. We can’t make that same presumption with Palin.)

2. You will get rid of FILLERS. This is connected to Reason Number 1, but I list it separately to remind you that fillers are killers. When we don’t know precisely what we want to say next, many of us unconsciously add “uhh”, “you know”, “uhm”, “eh” or any other number of distracting – and unprofessional – utterances. These interrupt the smooth flow of our messages and can be completely disruptive to a highly expectant audience.  I was told of a performance professional who once counted a whopping 37 of these during a presentation made by someone who had eschewed his urging to practice. Speaking with fillers is a sure-sign that you are a rookie and will undermine whatever it is you’re trying to say.

3. You will be more CONFIDENT. Whenever anyone asks me the best way to reduce nervous butterflies, I encourage them to practice more. When you know what you are going to say, in the order that you are going to say it and have practiced doing so OUTLOUD several times, you WILL gain confidence.

4. Knowing your structure gives you FREEDOM. The confidence you have in knowing what you are going to say, allows you the freedom to be in the moment with your audience. I don’t advocate strict and unwavering memorization of a text. I encourage you to know it well enough that you can relax and have a genuine conversation with your audience. Think about the actor who explores a well-known role. Presentation delivery should be like a pianist playing a concert.  You know the piece so well, you are in the moment. You know what emotions your words are conveying. Don’t be a robot. Experience what you are saying with them. Watch their faces for verbal cues and give a little more or edit a bit depending.

5. Your Audience will APPRECIATE your professionalism. When you are comfortable and confident, your audience will be more so too. Nobody wants to watch someone ramble. You’re wasting their time.

6. Your MESSAGE will be MORE clearly understood. As with Reason Number 5, it’s frustrating for an audience to have to try and follow someone who doesn’t have a clear path. Audiences have other things on their minds. It’s up to you to make sure you’re easily understood and remembered. Don’t forget to tell them what’s in it for them!

Okay! There are six reasons why it’s beneficial to practice your next presentation. To help round out this topic, next time, I will outline some helpful tips for HOW to PRACTICE.

I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences with practice. When you did it to perfection and when you didn’t. What happened? What could have happened??

One quick follow-up from my loyal opposition: he has since emailed me that he is going to change his approach and try to practice more. I love that we’re engaging deeper on this issue. That’s how progress is made! He added in his last email that he’s “not a good repeater. Even if I do the same presentation several times, I use different words.”

That’s okay. As I mentioned above, you do not have to memorize your entire presentation word for word – to repeat it exactly the same way every time.  I do encourage you to have your introduction and your final closing lines pretty close to memorized. That ensures your message is solidly delivered. But again, the confidence you have from practicing your overall structure, will allow you the freedom to act within that structure.

The more your practice, the more you can really explore!

Cheers! Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Networking Master Class.

Real tips that work. Not theoretical ideas that don’t.

That’s the approach I strive for no matter what I train/coach/consult around.  But especially personally important for me is the concept of “networking.”  After all, I have lived and worked and met new people in such far-flung places as Cairo, Paris, Denver and now Ireland.

Last night the Cork Chamber hosted me before a gathering of some 70 business leaders as I led a “Master Class” on how to meet people at these types of contrived gatherings.

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I break it down this way:  BEFORE, DURING, AFTER.

BEFORE

1. Be Google-worthy!  Make sure when someone Googles you they find something! And the what they find is current, friendly and relevant.

Linked In. If you’re not on Linked In, do it.  This is your virtual office that you can invite people to.  I’m not going to go into details, but at the very least, make sure you have a photo in your profile, your summary is a compelling story of you, not some boring CV listing, and add photos, articles, clippings, etc.  And yes, post, post, post! This is where you can really come alive.

Twitter. This is your online “email” system. People can follow you. You can follow them back and then you can DM. Just like email but faster.  It’s lively and I find more and more professionals are using it as a way to instant meet-up.

All the rest. Facebook is like your online living room. I don’t know. Do you want everyone in there with you? Do you have a professional account and a personal account? Up to you.  Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat (Obama’s doing it now…).  Do any and all of the rest as you have time and inclination. But at the very, very least – do Linked In.

2. Register, Research, Reach-out! Most networking events offer online sign-up and registration lists. Virtual communities to engage with even before you go to the event- or conference – or whatever.   If you research the lists, you can find people you can reach out to beforehand – Remember, you should be able to find them on Linked In or Twitter, right?  I asked around at my meeting and a few hands went up with stories of how positively this had worked for them.  The President of the Chamber was, in fact, going to have a coffee with a new person he reached out to via the registry of an upcoming conference  – before the  actual conference takes place. Good stuff.  However, the large majority of the room admitted they have never done this.  Now is the time!

DURING

1. Go early. Go alone. If you don’t know anyone, you can always find the host if you come a bit early. If you come with a friend, you may be inclined to stick to your safe person. That may limit you.  Stand up tall in a “power posture” and then talk to the registration people, the photographer, the drinks servers. Ask them to introduce you to someone. If you’re early, they probably will have time to help guide you.

2. Don’t work the room. Don’t be a dork. Zipping along from person to person and handing out cards is meaningless. Better to have a nice conversation with the host or one other person who is a veteran in the group than to flutter around aimlessly.

3. Ask. Don’t tell. Yes, be ready to say what you do in about 4 seconds. But it’s much friendlier to take an interest in the other person. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask follow-up questions.

4. Offer to help. Some call this section, “Add value” – but in the spirit of keeping it real and not sounding so businessy, I just say, “”try to find ways to help.”  If you know of a book that might be a good read for someone, recommend it. Likewise if you know a good plumber or some other product or service that me be relevant to the person you may be speaking with.

AFTER

1. Follow-up and follow-through. If you did recommend a book, add the link to where that book can be bought in your follow-up email.  You should follow-up as quickly as possible. The next day if at all possible.  Be friendly, don’t be desperate.  No matter who these people are, you are another human so don’t overly genuflect. Just be nice.

There’s much more that  we covered last night, but these are some good starters.

barry and me edit

As they say, “You really had to be there” to get the full impact of our role-playing, Q&A and other lively interactions.  But,  I hope you pick up a tip or two, but more importantly, put them into action to work for you!

 As a final word of tried and true wisdom, If you want a friend, be a friend. “

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

Motivation Matters.

I’ve read Tony Robbins’ books and they’re ‘drivel.’

Those are the words a person I know – and respect, actually – wrote to me this week on Facebook after I mentioned I’ll be sharing the stage with the world’s number one life coach.

Robbins and I are both speaking at Dublin’s incredible Pendulum Summit, which is a 3000-person, sold-out conference of several speakers – capped off by a five-hour master class by Robbins – dedicated to motivating and inspiring professionals to push past fears, take risks and improve and empower their lives.

And tonight, at the Speakers and Sponsors dinner before tomorrow’s conference, I met Tony for the first time.  Dublin’s innovative photographer, Conor McCabe, was there shooting pictures loaded online in a stunning simultaneous process that he is leading the way on.  Robbins took his time working the room. He unhurriedly went to every single table greeting and talking with every single person in there.  gina and tony.jpg

Okay, if you’re a naysayer, I know it’s what he may be “expected” to do. But as I met him, he didn’t seem perfunctory or assuming a role. He asked me questions and appeared to really listen to my answers.  His expression seemed kind. His eyes were on me – not looking around or over my head at who was next in line – although at 6’7” he easily could have!

I was impressed. I look forward to hearing what he has to say tomorrow.

As a veteran CNN correspondent and now current communications consultant, I have interviewed and/or worked with thousands of newsmakers, business executives, politicians and thought-leaders.  They all seem to benefit from encouragement and motivation.  Every one of them.

Ninety-nine percent of my Facebook friends wrote that they thought it was exciting that I’d be meeting Robbins. But there’s always someone out there who discounts motivation, isn’t there? I respect that my friend mentioned above felt comfortable enough with me to tell me his views and he certainly has his right to his own opinion.

But, why the negativity I wonder?

I suppose if you’re great at self-motivation or self-empowerment, you don’t need, seek or want encouragement from others.  But for those of us who aren’t lone wolves, who appreciate a wing-man, cheerleader or coach, I’m thrilled and honoured to be a part of this event.

Do you like motivation seminars? If so, why? If not, why not? What motivates you? I’d love to know.

In the meantime, here’s to Ireland’s Pendulum Summit. A motivational way to kick off the new year!

And, for me, I truly hope, many more returns!

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.