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You’ve Just Lost A Job, Not Everything

You’ve Just Lost A Job, Not Everything

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you don’t know exactly how to answer the question, “What do you do?”

The most common answer I hear at meetups and networking events is reciting a job title and job description.

“I’m a business analyst.”

“I’m a marketing assistant.”

“I’m a financial analyst.”

“I’m a coach.”

I’ve given this type of answer before where my whole identity is attached to a job title, yet over the years I’ve realized that a job title is a label you put on yourself that does not define who you are. The problem with having your identity tied to a specific job is that if something happens like getting laid off or fired, your sense of self-worth suffers, making you think that the world is over and your life has no purpose.

Losing a job doesn’t mean the end of the world. What looks like a setback could very well be the opportunity you’ve been looking for to make a meaningful change.

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The key is diversifying your skills and remaining grateful.

Back in August, I received a notice that would change my perspective on life and work forever: I was laid off. I remember standing in the back of the room looking around and seeing mixed emotions as we continued listening to the “we are restructuring operations” speech. I left the room right after finding out we were going to get an extra month of salary to help us out in this transition.

A transition in life is a very fragile stage in our lives that put us in a gray area, and it can become our greatest setback or our most powerful opportunity. A transition always leads to uncertainty because we are not familiar with what’s ahead and emotions often go crazy. Our brain automatically starts looking for solutions to this seemingly terrible transition and we make decisions based out of fear rather than from a place of love.

I remember as I was walking through the hallway back to my cubicle, I couldn’t help thinking about what was coming next.

How am I going to pay rent?

My car?

Credit card bills?

Student loans?

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Groceries?

Chipotle with extra guacamole?

I need to apply for new jobs, interview like crazy, and take the first job offer that comes to me.

These and many other thoughts were running through my head all at the same time. I acknowledged them and let them flow without presenting any resistance. I realized all my thoughts were coming from a place of fear, leading me toward finding the most comfortable solutions.

Instead, I remained calm and did NOTHING!

I avoided the temptation of trying to find a quick fix and took it as an opportunity to really choose myself for once in my life. For years I held corporate positions in the mortgage and finance industry, making good money but not feeling fulfilled — and a part of me knew it was time for a change. I saw this as an opportunity to be intentional about my next step and find what makes me come alive.

I asked myself: What is the worst that can happen if for once in my life I decide to do something that I’m passionate about and try it out for one month?

I decided to give intentional experimentation a try, know more about myself, and figure out the kind of person I want to become. Adam Poswolsky, author of “The Quarter-Life Breakthrough”, mentions how it’s important to develop a breakthrough career mindset, becoming intentional about the kind of job opportunities young adults want to take on where every opportunity takes you closer to your true purpose and interests. The reward of intentional experimentation is to find meaningful work while experimenting with a variety of opportunities until you find that one thing that makes you fulfilled.

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Here’s what happened once I decided to experiment with different opportunities after losing my job:

Traveling

Traveling has given me a new perspective on the world. It has also given me the opportunity to sit back, meditate, and embrace life for what it is and not for what I want it to be. Too many times, we get caught up in the everyday hustle and sometimes we forget what’s really important.  I first learned about meditation during our Costa Rica retreat back in October when I took my first-ever yoga class surrounded by fresh rainforest air, an abundance of local flora and fauna, tropical birds singing, gentle breezes, and the sound of the rushing river. One of the most important benefits I get from meditating is learnign how to organize my thoughts and emotions, helping me decide what really matters.

The people I’ve met throughout my travels have made all the difference. Being surrounded by people passionate about life, traveling, and refusing to settle inspires me keep pushing forward towards what I want out of life.

Writing

I fell in love with the power of the written word a long time ago, but I never really developed a writing habit. Ever since being laid off, I’ve been writing more often and getting my ideas out of my head, reflecting on things that matter to me, and sharing them with the world. I even started my own blog where I write about personal development, crafting stories from my own personal experiences and interviewing other people going through their own transitions. While developing a daily writing habit, I have learned how to be vulnerable, honest, and transparent.  Lately, I’ve been developing a habit of meditating through writing where I get to write about the highlights of each day and things I can do to improve for the next day. It’s so rewarding, and I’d encourage anyone to write a little bit each day.

Learning about myself

This is perhaps the most valuable outcome I’ve received from getting laid off: the opportunity to better understand who I am and what I want out of life. Most people rarely take the time to truly learn about themselves, instead following predetermined scripts that society puts upon us. Go to college, get a degree, get a high-paying job, big screen TV, white-picket fence house, work for 40-50 years, climb the corporate ladder, and then retire. Even if you want to climb the corporate ladder, how do you even know that you have it leaned against the right wall? I have realized that learning about yourself is a natural process that is ongoing, and there are no hacks or fast tracks.

A few days ago, I shared my big intention for life, business, and career with the universe in a single tweet. Here it is:

My big intention is to truly serve others in their journey within by writing, dancing, spreading smiles for miles and positive energy, creating and participating in transformative experiences that serve as a launching pad to help young adults figure out their next step.

The word is out!

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There are moments when I feel fearful and doubtful, and start to question myself about my decision to follow my own path, but I recognize it and don’t give control to doubts and fears. Instead, I remember that I’m being intentional about what I want by doing things that allow me to fully express myself.

I thought that losing my job was going to be a disaster, but it became the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had to change my life.

I accepted my situation. I embraced it. I got in touch with my inner self.

What resulted was definitely not on the script I had been given for years.

I don’t know where this path may lead, but what matters is that I’ve made a conscious decision to live a life aligned with my true gifts and talents to make a meaningful impact in the world. If I hadn’t been laid off, I probably would have stayed at the same old job, living a life of average and conformity. Sometimes what looks like a hardship is quite often a blessing in disguise.

What transition are you going through in your life right now and what are you learning from it?

Featured photo credit: h.koppdelaney via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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