connection

Connect Beyond the Keyboard

NLV is a two day professional development opportunity designed with a full curriculum-style agenda to help you and your business thrive. It’s limited to 50 participants, so you have the opportunity to truly get to know every person in the room. Sessions range from brain-science and mindset strategies to building your brand across platforms, hosted by some of your favorite LinkedIn connections.

So why am I recording this video on a mountain in Montana? Because the overall theme of NLV is to connect beyond the keyboard, taking your online connections to the next level in an enriching environment, filled with relevant content.

We humans are designed to use all of our senses to maintain and improve our brains, and our capacity for healthy relationships with others. LinkedIn and other platforms have offered us incredible opportunities to meet, learn from, and collaborate with people all over the world, without ever meeting face-to-face. That’s pretty amazing. 

But there’s a limit to what you can accomplish from behind your keyboard. At some point, if you want to build authentic, powerful relationships, you must experience the world in first person.

You can read about climbing a mountain, look at pictures, and even feel like you’re climbing by watching someone else on a big screen, but you’re missing 90% of the experience.

As I stand here looking out over my little city, I’m breathing clean, crisp, fresh air. I’m smelling the pine needles, the damp soil that will freeze soon. I’m seeing the details of the leaves that have changed color and are barely hanging onto their trees, ready to drop for winter. I can hear the breeze coming up through the trees on the mountain, and I’m feeling the crunch of the rocks and dry grass under my feet.

I can’t experience that through a screen.

Register for No Longer Virtual today; save yourself some money by registering before November 1.

Still on the fence? Check out some of the reviews from past participants:

Join me, learn together – in the same room - with some of your favorite LinkedIn connections. Take your connections beyond the keyboard and create an even more powerful network. Visit elkinsconsulting.com to register, and for more information, and contact me directly with questions. I can’t wait to meet you at NLV!

Stories of Outdoor Adventures Color Our Lives with Gratitude

Returning From an Adventure with No Toilet Paper Makes You Grateful for the Little Things

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Kevin Strauss wasn't born into a family that was outdoorsy. He didn't grow up in a place where it was common to hike for miles, or to go camping in the wilderness over the summer. But at some point in his life, he realized he wanted to reconnect with nature, to explore his adventurous nature and stretch out of his comfort zone. He did something he never thought he'd do, and that experience set him up for a future full of extreme outdoor adventures.

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When we think about our lives and how we live each day, we have three concentric circles of our activities and behaviors. The innermost, smallest circle is our comfort zone, and most of us stay in there in the majority of our daily activities. The next circle is about double the size of the comfort zone, and that's our stretch zone. The majority of us spend about 5 percent of our time there on a daily basis. And then there's the huge, outermost circle - our "oh shit" zone. That's the place we avoid as much as possible, totally out of our control and beyond our imagination of our own capacity and drive.

When we take a leap like Kevin did, we stretch that comfort zone out a bit, but more importantly, we stretch our stretch zone out dramatically. What we thought we'd never do, suddenly becomes an option, a possibility.

Being in nature, really out there, beyond easy access to an escape route, we realize a) how little control we really have, and b) how little, in terms of "stuff" we need to survive. Being out there with no toilet, no toilet paper, and no access to prepared food leaves us with a complete understanding of exactly what is a necessity, and what is simply luxury.

Mount Helena City Park, Helena, Montana

Mount Helena City Park, Helena, Montana

That's when we can connect deeply with ourselves and the world around us. The best part of this kind of adventure is the return to "real" life, when we get to apply the lessons we learn on our adventures. We realize that gratitude changes our lives, improves our relationship with ourselves and others, and helps push us to try new things and set our priorities.

As promised in the podcast, here are a few resources for you, just in case you are inspired to step out of your comfort zone in an outdoor adventure:

  • Local REI and MeetUps often have trips for beginners, as well as classes

  • Backpacker.com is a great magazine to get you started and thinking about trips and gear

  • Backpackinglight.com has a plethora of articles, webinars, podcasts, etc.

  • Cottage shops for gear often have great articles and resources on their websites, as well as “real life” experiences. Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, ULA, Mountain Laurel Designs, Zpacks. You won’t find this gear at REI or other major sporting goods stores, but you’ll learn about real gear that works.

And here's the other promised link to Kevin's blog post about toilet paper.

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Kevin Strauss is a 17-year, injury-free Ironman Triathlete and Coach. If you have any question or need help with your endurance events, including backpacking, or if you want to get started and run your first 5K and do it right, visit his website. Learn more about Kevin and his products, Family eJournal and Corporate eJournal, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Why It Works with Joe Kwon - Storytelling

5.0 Why It Works: Sarah Elkins on Storytelling

in Podcast

Have you ever wondered why some storytellers mesmerize you and others give Ambien a run for its money? How come some stories you tell have people on the edge of their seat and others induce yawns? Did you know that there is a lot more than words that goes into telling a good story?

In today's episode of "Why It Works," Sarah Elkins, a leadership and storytelling coach, reveals some of the hidden mechanisms behind storytelling. Listen in to find out the connection between vulnerability and storytelling, how lessons from music can improve your storytelling and the one thing that drives Sarah crazy about bad storytellers.

Stories Shared Create Safe Space

Nicole Herbig and her partner at REBORN are acutely aware of the different world they're experiencing as a result of growing up not only as digital natives, but at the cusp of another industrial revolution.

Even in Dreams, Stories Offer Opportunity for Self Reflection

Exposed? Vulnerable? That's good, because that's how we connect.

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I had to go to the bathroom so badly. I might have a very embarrassing situation in the next few moments. As I moved through the restaurant to find the women's restroom, I could feel my face warming, blushing.

I couldn't find the bathroom and started walking much faster, a feeling of desperation washing over me. The building was huge, with twists and hallways and lots of tables and guests. Finally, there it was, the entrance was hidden in a dark corner. I walked through - none of the stalls had doors.

It was weird. People (men and women) just walking by these open stalls like there was nothing awkward about it. I went into a stall to find a big mess on the floor and around the toilet. It was filthy. I couldn't even think about going to the bathroom there. I tried to find another stall, looking for some semblance of privacy. I felt totally exposed. But no one seemed to notice; not one person looked at me or acknowledged the odd situation. I didn't know what to do.

And then I woke up, perspiring and shaking.

It took me all day to get my tremors to calm down.

It was the night before a gig. I would be performing on stage that evening; singing songs I knew well, with musicians I knew would competently back me up. And yet, clearly my subconscious mind was telling me I was nervous.

I’m a big believer that our dreams can help us identify issues that are buried in our subconscious minds. When we can interpret a recurring dream, we can start to address the concerns we have that aren’t as straightforward or obvious as we might hope.

I have this exposure dream or something similar to it, pretty consistently before gigs, presentations, and other events where I know I’ll be putting myself out there – working outside my comfort zone.

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Sometimes the dream involves me looking for a shower, or taking a shower and realizing there are no curtains and people can see me. Sometimes I care and get embarrassed, trying to cover up. Once in a while in my dream, I decide it doesn't matter if people can see me naked in the shower, I feel proud and free and not at all embarrassed. That doesn't happen often.

My dreams have always been vivid and generally easy to translate and interpret. The two described above are the easiest to figure out. It's simply a matter of feeling naked, vulnerable, and exposed. The fact that I have these dreams before a gig or presentation isn't surprising; after all, singing & performing for an audience is like being naked in public - if you're doing it right.

Being authentic is easier for some people than it is for others. It's probably the most important aspect of public speaking and performance. Read any book on public speaking, including one of my favorites, Talk Like TED, and you'll read the same concept:

Be authentic because any audience can tell when you aren't, and they will simply dismiss you and your message.

There’s another important side of the discussion of dreams: The ones you have in your waking hours. You know - the dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, being a rock star, having a successful career, writing a book, and on and on. The question about those dreams is whether you have to monetize them to make them relevant, valid, and successful. I don’t think so.

It started with Craig’s list. My husband responded to someone looking for a musician to play with, just for kicks. Ryan came over one night while I was out with friends and when I arrived home, he was putting his guitar back into his car. I introduced myself and asked him about his music, about his family. That’s when he told me about his wife, Twila. She used to sing with a couple of gospel choirs. Instinct kicked in and I invited him to bring his wife and daughter for dinner the following week.

We had a lovely meal, and while our boys and their daughter watched anime movies in the other room; I pulled Twila into our music room and picked a song for us to try together. Neither of us had been singing for a while, for me it had been about 20 years since I had done anything more than sing to our children. It was magical. Our voices blended and wrapped around one another in an extraordinary resonance. We had chills up our spines, the hairs on our necks rose as we sang together. There were moments when our voices were so well balanced, so completely joined, it sounded like there was an organ behind us.

One music night turned into a music night each week, which turned into two music nights some weeks. More musicians were invited to join us, friends came by for dinner and to listen to us practice. Our house developed an incredible reputation for good food and great music. Ryan and Bob learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and challenged each other to practice and improve their guitar playing. Twila and I were so inspired; we would begin a song and could feel our voices taking it to a different dimension. We experimented with songs that we had never heard performed with harmonies, magical is an understatement. We eventually realized that we had about a dozen songs down well enough to perform them and took the first step to creating a band – open mic night at a local coffee shop. We had such positive feedback, we needed a band name. The Perfect Jones was born.

I had no idea that performing – singing – was my dream.

I never dreamed I would be a professional musician. I never dreamed that people would pay to hear me sing. Now that it’s happening I realize it is a wonderful dream and one I am not willing to give up any time soon. When I talk about our band and performing, my grin shows all of my teeth.

Singing is my part-time job, and it doesn’t pay well.

But it’s my dream.

Do I have to monetize it to make it real or valid?
Does my dream have to get bigger; do I have to want more from it? No.

I just have to keep wanting it, despite my sleep-time dreams of vulnerability and exposure.

If your dreams are trying to tell you that you're stressed, anxious, and feeling exposed, listen to them.

Acknowledge the fear and find tools to work through it. When I wake up from one of these dreams, I take time to assess my fears in a clear, strategic way.

What am I really afraid of?

What's the worst thing that could happen?

How likely is it that the audience will be as critical of me as I am of myself?

What steps will you take to realize your dream, even if it scares you?