Food for Thought!

Eating right doesn’t only help keep your body fit, it helps your brain stay fit too!

Plenty of studies show that what we eat has an impact on our ability to remember – and even our likelihood of developing dementia as we age.

Eating healthy is a critical consideration in this high-action era –in which we are staying active in our professional lives longer than ever before.

Many executives hang their “consultant” shingle in their sixties- after they’ve racked up great experience in the corporate world. They rightly understand the value their experience can be for others.  How important, then, is it that we eat right? Now and as we age?

I had the extreme pleasure recently, at a TodayFM business event I spoke at, to meet an Irish food scientist who is putting his business where our mouths are.

Dr. John Collier launched “Life Kitchen” after his father died and he realized the pre-packaged meals his now-alone mom was buying at the grocery stores, were, quite frankly, crap.

“I could see a decline in my mother,” John told me. “She wasn’t looking at what she was eating. She had high cholesterol high blood pressure, and diabetes.  Those supermarket ready-made meals are full of fat, high in sugar and salt. They’re not what she should be eating.”

His meals, which can be ordered and delivered to anywhere in Ireland and the UK at the moment, are high in protein  – 30 grams in each meal, minimum  – and feature foods high in anti-oxidants with no extra salt or sugar.

All that and they’re still tasty! My eight-year-old daughter Lulu and I tried three different meals last week.  We especially enjoyed the Turkey Meatballs, which are served on a barley pilaf with a red pepper sauce that packed a huge flavor punch!

John sneaks vegetables like corn and courgettes (that’s “zucchini” to you Americans out there) into his meatballs which unsuspectingly boost the vitamin count without detracting from the taste.

Nutrients and protein are one of his main focuses because, as John points out, “Once we’re over 35, our muscle degradation increases and we need to take in more protein. For many of us, especially if we’re under work pressure, we’re working long hours and we may not be eating properly.  That has an impact on our muscle mass.”

And, as research shows, it impacts our brain matter too.

We know the adage,

We are what we eat – but that doesn’t only apply to our body composition. It applies to our minds too.

Our strategic thinking requires us to train our brain with the right fuel too.   If we’re too busy to prepare healthy food, Life Kitchen can do it for you.

The healthier meals are doing wonders for John’s mom.

“My mother is flying it now. Her own mother lived to 105. You can’t rid of a bad thing,” John jokingly adds. I think.

Great food for thought.

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

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How every BODY communicates whether or not you speak.

What are you doing while you read this? Are you leaning back in your chair with your feet up on the desk?  Are you sitting up erect and tall on the edge of your seat?  Are you standing? Are you walking on a treadmill?

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Just what am I saying that I’m not saying? 😉

How do you sit during a meeting that you are NOT leading?  Do you lean in toward the speaker and nod at appropriate times?  Do you smile slightly in encouragement?  Do you look at your phone that’s under the table? Are you texting someone?

Take a look at the pen you are using.  Is it something you are proud of?  Or is it some ratty thing you grabbed from the junk drawer on your way out the door – or did you have to dig to the bottom of your purse and pull out an empty container of TicTacs and a couple crumpled Kleenex before you could get to it?

Where are your eyes when you are first introduced to someone? Looking kindly and directly at their own eyes while you think about what they must be feeling?  Looking down at their shoes?  Looking down at your OWN shoes?! 😉

Are your shoes polished or scuffed?  Are your clothes sharp and appropriate? How about your hair and nails?  Clean and shiny or slightly off?

Your appearance, your posture, your expressions are your choices. Every moment of every day.  I’m not talking Top Model here, obviously.  And we don’t have to all be carbon copies of some business image stereotype.    But we can and should take responsibility for our choices.   They are sending messages to others whether we want to believe it or not.

Last summer, as I arrived to lead a presentation training session for a large group of sales managers, I noticed one woman in particular.  She was leaning back in her chair with a scowl on her face. Her arms were tightly folded across her chest.  More than unhappy, she looked downright angry.

Oh, oh,” I thought.  “This gal is going to be a challenge.

But, interestingly, this woman was, in fact, one of the most active participants of the group.  She really dug in, crafting and delivering a dynamic introduction using the methodology I taught.  After the session, I took her aside and told her I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged she was considering how off-putting her demeanor had been at the start.  She told me she had been told this before, but didn’t realize she could actively take steps to change it.

Yes, you can change.” I said, “But it will take active commitment and effort.

She departed the room walking taller and smiling at me as she waved goodbye.

Taking ownership of your appearance and your behavior are all part of being an engaging and effective communicator.

If you want the part, then you must look and act like you do.

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

Three thoughts on distractions to help us better focus!

This is the track I am speaking of - but today it was not nearly as sunny! ;)
This is Cork Ireland’s Mardyke Arena track I am speaking of – but today it was not nearly as sunny! 😉

Two women were on the outdoor track this morning.  One, wearing a knit cap for extra warmth, had her head slightly lowered and was jogging at a steady pace.  The other in a yellow wind-breaker and no hat, was briskly walking with her head held up, and carried a paper COFFEE CUP in her right hand.

jog

I immediately wondered at the second woman’s choice to walk on the track – while also sipping a coffee. How much was she focusing on her decision to exercise?  And really, how effective did she expect to be at the task at hand?

Of course you could argue it was better than nothing.  At least she wasn’t sitting in front of the TV sipping her coffee.

But she could’ve easily done even better.  That’s the problem with any distraction, isn’t it?  When we don’t focus our attention solely on the effort  before us, we will likely not be as successful at it.

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  1.  As the number of attention-demanding tasks we attempt to do at the same time go up, the effectiveness of our brain to manage them goes down.

Many of us, myself included, may have considered ourselves good “multi-taskers.”  We seldom complete one task before moving on to the next one on our list. Instead, our workspace is littered with a variety of “ongoing” projects that get pushed aside as we take a ‘quick’ call,  check our email in-box, Instagram, Facebook or whatever.  Some projects may be better if you step away and take a break before reviewing, etc. But others need continued attention and focus in order to be completed in a timely manner.

We have limited brain capacity to focus.  Think about that the next time you’re working on a project or the next time you phone and drive. Even hands free.  In spite of what you may think, studies show they’re no safer than hand-held. We’re still distracted.

  1. Consider making to do lists in order of “attention-demanding” priority. Allot specific times to specific tasks.

When preparing for a presentation, for example, if you carve out an hour for research, commit to making the full hour only about research.  If you let distractions creep in, the hour will still pass by, but your research results won’t reflect it.

  1. Get rid of distractions when meeting with colleagues, friends, and loved ones.

I sat recently in a café and watched a couple sitting together at a table.  Although they were side by side, they spoke not a word, but kept their faces buried in their phones.  How many times have you met with a colleague who sits behind his or her desk and continues to check their computer?  How about meetings or presentations where laptops and tablets are clearly in play.  Putting aside such things for others shows respect and recognizes the value of everyone’s time.

It takes discipline to be methodological but time that is not managed, is often time that is wasted.

The one thing that money cannot buy is effective use of time.  Get rid of distractions and make every second count.

So the next time you’re on the race track, put down that coffee cup and get going!

Copyright 2015 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

 

 

A true story of perseverance.

The band is called Osaka Flu and the word was “whore.”

(If that didn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will!)

The lead-singer and back-up vocalist had come to me for help.  Their band, based here in Arezzo – but, of course, with hopes to make it BIG – plays original tunes in clubs around Tuscany in a style that sounds like a mix between Oasis and Green Day.  Their angst-filled lyrics are all in English. But when I first met them, their overly Italian pronunciation was anything but.

osaka_flu_125_125

“No, no,” I admonished at our first lesson, “the ‘W’ in ‘whore’ is silent.  Not like ‘War.’ Just pronounce the ‘H’.  Like ‘Hore.’ That’s it.  Really punch that breath-sound in the letter ‘H.’ Good.”

Here I was helping a guy put the proper pronunciation on that dreadful misogynistic word.  Lovely. My mother would be so proud.

To be fair, the word was part of a metaphor, “You walked out the door, just like a whore….”  The girl in question was only being compared to that term; she was not directly referred to as such.  And anyway, it’s not like I can pretend that I never listened to my share of way-not-feminist bands in my day like, Guns-N-Roses, Van Halen and Motley Crue.  But I digress.

These young men were in earnest.  They truly wanted to sing with proper American-rocker like pronunciation. So I helped them.

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Yes, this is Osaka Flu. But this is not how our training sessions looked.. 😉

Every “Leesten” became “Listen.”

Every “Deen’t” became “Didn’t.”

Every “Going to” became “Gonna.”

Every “F**king” became “F**kin’.”  You get the idea.

The point here is not to take their choice of lyrics to task, but to demonstrate to you that these guys were dedicated and worked hard.  The lead singer can barely carry a conversation in English, but man, he was committed to singing in it.

They came once a week for about an hour.  They would sing a song and I would digitally record it. Then I would play it back and point out the mistakes and they would practice it again. And again. And again.

That was two years ago.   And they have now begun recording their first original cd – full of the songs that I helped them with.  Today, the lead singer picked me up and took me to the recording studio so I could listen to each track and let them know if it passed the grade to my finely tuned American-rocker-girl ears.

They did.  They sounded great.

Yes, each song was still filled with sex and drugs – it’s only rock-n-roll after all.  But each song also sounded like a real American-style rocker was singing it.  Their Italian accents had been successfully silenced.

These guys had a plan, they sought out someone who could help them, and they persevered. It has taken them two years, but they didn’t give up.  They stuck to it.

As I listened to their recordings today, I was honestly filled with pride.  There wasn’t a hint of ‘W’ in that aforementioned word.  Good job, gentlemen.

Til next time, what endeavor are you thinking about undertaking?  Will it take a long time?  So what! Why not get started now?! Let me know about it! 

Gina

For more information on how I may help you achieve your goals, reach out to me here – or please visit my website at GinaLondon.com 

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All rights reserved.

What’s your Influence?

ɪnflʊəns / noun

 1. Influence – The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

This word – and its layers of meaning – is something I want to explore in 2014.   Maybe you do too.

When I had lunch Monaco with Suzanne Bates, author of Speak Like a CEO and founder of a large consulting firm near Boston, she asked me if I had ever considered writing a book on understanding Influence.

Me? I didn’t think I had enough influence to do so.

She asked me to recall when I had been the first Country Director of the International Republican Institute in Egypt in 2006.  IRI is committed to teaching democracy to developing countries, but somehow, with my staff of just three Egyptian nationals, I was unclear how wide-spread – or influential­ – our workshops and reports would be.

We conducted a few constituent-building training sessions with political parties opposed to the then-Mubarak regime.  And later, after an interview tour of the country, we issued the first-ever “Political Party Assessment” report that, to me, stated the obvious: Egypt’s political landscape was strategically tilted toward the regime’s party.

I did not anticipate the immediate backlash.  The following day, I received a phone call to report to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry. While I was flanked by two US Embassy officials, the Egyptian Deputy Minister politely and firmly announced our program was being shut-down. At the same time, a press release was being sent out essentially declaring me a spy.

Just one of many newspapers during that tense time..
Just one of many newspapers during that tense time..

 

The next six weeks, my name and photo was slashed across almost every newspaper.  Members of Egypt’s Parliament called for my arrest and finally a newspaper ran a photo of me – with a graphic of a gun-sight over my face – and a banner headline that declared, “Assassinate the Spy.”

The grainy photo is my face behind a gunsight. The headline calls for my "elimination."
The grainy photo is my face behind a gunsight. The headline calls to “Eliminate the Spy.”

 

The US Embassy and IRI helped me immediately leave the country.

I failed to connect that the work of my small office was greatly magnified by the weight of the United States Congress that closely monitors the work that both IRI and its sister organization, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) do.

I had underestimated the range of my influence then.

And a year ago, when I had my lunch with Suzanne, perhaps I underestimated it again. I didn’t write such a book, and just yesterday, Suzanne’s company announced it had spent the last year researching and developing a science-based model to test for influence.

So, what is influence and how to best leverage it?

Together, we can improve our influence.
Together, we can improve our influence.

 

I bet we all have more of it than we realize.  I do know that I have communications expertise based on my years as a professional journalist, campaign manager and international trainer.

I want to share that expertise with as many people as I can.   I may no longer have the support of Congress (which might be a good thing) – but together, we can create a butterfly effect of influence. For the positive.

Let’s all strive to better understand – and reinforce – our influence.

If there’s anything you would like to ask me, don’t hesitate!

Til next time!

Gina

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All rights reserved.