From drawing blanks to making conversation

October has been a really good month for me. I learned quite a bit this month, I made some solid decisions and I went on a relaxing holiday! Part of the result of my learning is that I’m more confident about starting conversation with important people.

Drawing blanks

It’s rather embarrassing but when I have an opportunity to chat informally with important people e.g. a CEO or celebrity etc, I cannot for the life of me think of anything to say! I’m normally really chatty with people I know and even those I don’t know but if I was ever in an elevator with Bill Gates, I’d totally freeze up! What’s up with that? I’ve often heard people talk about the “elevator pitch” and how everyone has something like 10 seconds to describe themselves in a way that sells. I swallow when I hear that. There! My secret is out. I’ve heard one of my managers who noticed this describe me as “shy” – laughable, I know. Anyway, I think I’m on my way to overcoming this weakness of mine. I just need to breathe (in a non-obvious way, of course) and then think of something intelligent to say, right? Oh dear.

Making conversation

I once wrote an article on LinkedIn titled, “How to Befriend Almost Anyone At Work”. It’s more for building relationships with colleagues. For me, building rapport with people that I feel are on my level is pretty easy. Some executives can be easy to start a conversation with. They make it seamless and relaxed but more and more, executives- and indeed anyone in an important position in the corporate world – are getting inundated as pressure grows to improve business performance. They just don’t have the time or patience to make it easy. This is why I think I need to try harder (since I unfortunately care about this kind of thing!) even if the executive gives me little or nothing to go on. Gulp.The fortunate thing is that a guy called Bernard Marr recently wrote an article, “How to Start a Conversation with Absolutely Anyone”. It is a great guide and I felt a glimmer of hope after I read it. Unlike my article, it is more about what to SAY or bring up rather than how to befriend someone. Afterall, I’m unlikely to become Bill Gates’ best friend just because I impressed him with a interesting conversation in an elevator. Well, maybe.

Some of what Bernard mentions are (in my own wacky words):

  • Looking for something in the environment to talk about e.g. the food, the guests, the venue
  • Skipping small talk – don’t mention the weather for goodness sake, unless of course there’s a hurricane outside and you are under the table together. I’d imagine it would seem insensitive not to mention it!
  • Ask open ended questions. If you ask yes or no questions then you’ll get a “yes” or a “no”. At this stage, the only way to get more is to ask “why?” There’s only so many times you can ask why before you sound like a 3-year old on speed.

And so on. The article is worth reading if this stuff is of interest to you.

Do you have any other tips for starting conversations? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Happy Weekend!

Friends that make you go Mmm

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You insist, asking that I confidently be me
There’s a grace when I’m around you because I can just be

You see something in me, a quiet unmistakable buzz
By my side through the years though you didn’t know what that buzz was

Poem by Kemi Otaru aka The Task Mistress
Photo from Izusek of istockphotos.com

I am a selfie junkie: Top 10 selfies

It’s one of the greatest inventions of our time. I believe I invented it- I was just too embarrassed to tell anyone that I occasionally (frequently) take pictures of myself when I feel the need. I’m still embarrassed. If I wasn’t so disapproving of myself, I’d have been an embarrassed but famous – maybe even rich person. Who do they have down as inventing selfies??!

Anyway, here are my top 10 selfies taken over the past few years in no particular (putting it in order of “best” would be particularly vain and totally unlike me):

1.

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2.

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3.

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4.

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5.

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6.

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7.

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8.

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9.

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10.

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What are your best selfies? Publish on your blog and leave a link in the comments so that I can check them out!

Day three: Why Am I Counting the Days?

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Killaloe, Ireland (photo taken by Kemi Otaru Oct 2014)

I’m on holiday in Ireland just now and I have to say my brain has kinda slowed down….in a good way, mostly. I don’t have my work mobile and I didn’t leave any pending projects which could make me hypertensive while I’m away. So I’m asking myself why I’m counting the days on my recent blog posts??! What’s with day one, day two etc. ? Don’t worry I’m not asking You, the Reader. I’m asking Me, the Writer.

Maybe I wanted to see how long I’d go before I stopped writing daily. Well, if it’s that then I’ll fail because I can’t write every day. Why? Well, I’m not on holiday everyday. Duh. I’m not competing this blog thing with anyone. I already did that in 2008.

To be honest, I think misunderstood the Blogging 201 instructions. If anyone actually understands how I get my junk started for real, please write in the comments.

So as a heads up, my next post will probably not be tomorrow but it won’t be long after. Also, I won’t be counting the days. That’s just stupid.

Day two: Do Photo Essays suck?

What are your views on photo essays as a blog strategy? Sometimes I think photographs are powerful if they just tell a story you don’t need to tell yourself? At the same time, my medical diagnosis is a Writing itch or twitch even. I feel like if I just post photos here, I’m just avoiding saying what I really think.

What do you guys think?

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