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


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

PHOTOGRAPHY: The Richness of Colour versus The Beauty of Its Absence

The absence of colour could reveal the unlying fabric of our beauty!

The absence of colour could reveal the true fabric of beauty!

Colour-rich in a rare but glorious Aberdeen sun...

Colour-rich in a rare but glorious Aberdeen sun…



Photo Credit: Yekemi Otaru
Model: TJ Mavis Anagboso

21 questions…

…that sum up the past year!

I was searching for…


It annoyed me that…

It took so long and I gave up many times

It worried me that…

I knew so little of my potential (but thankfully, it seemed obvious to others)

It brought me joy when…

My family was around me, encouraging me and making me laugh

I was running from…

Selfish motives and empty promises

Photo Credit: Merwing little dear,

Photo Credit: Merwing little dear,

This Is Helping Me Create…

Awareness about who I am and what really happened to me in 2012

This Is Making Me Think About

How I want to portray myself and whether I’m doing it right

This Makes My Teeth Itch

Extreme politeness in Britain

Can’t Do Without in 2012

Good friends and a romantic comedy

My Most Awkward Moment

Too numerous to count. What moments are not awkward? (A relatively shorter list, I think)

My Secret Ambition

To be the mother of a famous person in history who inadvertently changes the world for the better

I’m Known For…

Being passionate and creative

My Current Project

Building an outline for my second (unpublished) novel, which will be around a few women and their struggles with married life (should be funny, familiar and heart-warming).

My Greatest Achievement in 2012

Finishing my 3-year MBA in flying colours and getting an awesome new job!

My Biggest Regret in 2012

That no one reads their emails anymore + the mass loss of the sacred art of writing

Photo Credit: Urbanworkbench,

Photo Credit: Urbanworkbench,

I Truly Respect

People who are affluent and important in society but never speak about their wealth and blend into the crowd – such humility is rare these days.

Moments I’d Like To Forget

Times when I was incredibly hard on myself

How I Pay For This Wardrobe

Eh, work my butt off!

Where I’d Like To Be 10 Years From Now

Living in a slightly warmer country with a huge house not far from the beach with a view of the mountains…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Sorry this one’s late, folks. I’ve been looking for inspiration. I hope these do it for you :-)..

Where would we be without those that move in sync with us? (Photo courtesy of

This one forms a lump in my throat… love it…my heart will go on.

I started Choi Kwang Do about 9 months ago so this appeals to me (photo courtesy of

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