Presentation is the Winning Edge

Jack Everly Chris Botti

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing two friends to a fantastic musician, Chris Botti, who was in concert with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra last night.  I had seen this combination several years ago the last time Chris Botti was in town so I was very excited to see them again.


Knowing that friends Lorraine and Andy are both music lovers I suggested going not too long ago and thankfully we were able to get tickets just a day or so before the show.  Not only did we get tickets – we were on the floor eight rows from the stage!


Prior to the concert Andy made the comment about the seats not being very important since it was about the music.  I agree; however, I had seen this before so I knew the visual aspect was just as important.


There is an interesting thing about both the Jack Everly, the conductor for the ISO, and Chris Botti and his band – they are performers, not just musicians.  The attached picture is of Jack Everly and Chris Botti – sorry about the fuzzies, apparently I was enjoying myself so much I couldn’t hold my phone still!


When Mr. Everly conducts, he is not just leading the musicians; he is communicating his passion and the music through his movements.   The musicians respond not only to the direction but they also respond to him; as does the audience.


Chris Botti does this and takes it one step further – he continually admires, praises and recognizes the members of his band and accompanying professionals throughout the entire performance.  It is honest, genuine shows true leadership in promoting those around him.


Every member of his band and the accompanying professionals were amazing in their own right.  I wish I could remember all their names so forgive me by referring to most by their instrument.


The drummer was flat out phenomenal and fun to watch.  He interacted with the band and the audience, his facial expressions were engaging and his techniques were spellbinding.


The bass player was like the cool jazz cat that would hang out, bobbing his head and then out of no where he would break out into an amazing solo full of energy that instantly brought everyone up to the next level.


The pianist, Taylor Eigsti, I don’t know how he didn’t pass out on stage.  No only is he extraordinary gifted but that man gave it everything and more when he played.  I was seriously hoping there were EMTs near by!


The guitar player was gifted and serene easily standing to the side unnoticed until you realized that he was mesmerizing you with a solo.


There were two guest vocalists, the gentleman appeared dapper and reserved and then this big, beautiful voice filled the auditorium.


The female, Sy Smith, was nothing less that electric.  You literally could feel her touch you through her voice and her presentation.  At one point, Lorraine leaned over and whispered, “She’s adorable!”  Not only can this woman knock you off your feet with her talent, she exudes passion, excitement and a love for what she does.


The musicians of the ISO; well, there are none better.


Let’s face it, there are a lot of musicians out there.  Many are great at what they do but they lack that one thing, the thing that propels them from good or great to exceptional:  presence.


Everyone listed above had that one quality – presence.  They had it in spades.


It is not just a matter of being good at what you do – it is a matter of loving what you do and of making a difference.


If you are searching for a job or looking to transition to the next level – take a lesson from them.  Your competition may be just as good as you at what you do, but what will help you stand apart from them is your presence.


Before you talk to someone about a possible job take a minute to remember why it is you do what you do.  What do you love about it?  What keeps you engaged in it and wanting to improve?  Speak from that place and you will create the right presence.


Keep in mind those around you as well.  Remember – one of the most refreshing and admirable things Mr. Botti did was to continually put his band front and center.  How has your supporting cast not only supported you but also succeeded in their own right?  How have you made a difference in that?


How have people helped you along the way and what did you learn from it?  Mr. Botti also mentioned his music teacher at IndianaUniversity who was his great inspiration and such an influence on so many jazz musicians – he even recognized him in the audience and cheered on a standing ovation for him.  He also mentioned his great thanks and admiration for Sting for helping propel his career.


I will gladly pay to go see this professionals any time they are near, but I am not going to pay to hear someone play the same music in a pretty good way.


Employers are thinking the same of you.  They will pay top dollar for those with the skills, passion and presence, but will pass on the ones that can just get the job done.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.






Asking Questions is a Good Thing

QuestionsI’ve never been a “just because” kind of girl.

When I worked in corporate America and would hear, “this is the way we have always done it” or “we do it this way just because” it never satisfied me.  I would keep asking questions.

I ask a lot of questions.

I like to know the whys.  It helps me see the bigger picture and fine tune the details.  I can then properly assess situations, see possible challenges, adapt for possible changes and afford the opportunity to improve my performance to provide better service to others.  It also helps me understand the entire situation so I can then properly explain or train others.

It can be annoying – but it is me.  It is how my mind works.  If you think it frustrates or annoys others imagine being inside my head having to know the why and not understanding why people don’t see the importance of it.

But as I aged I realized that not everyone thinks or communicates like I do.  They should…just kidding…kinda.

The transition from annoying to empowering came when I learned how to communicate to others how I communicate.

For example when my ex-husband was diagnosed with cancer and the oncologist came in to explain the course of treatment.  He initially introduced himself then quickly ran through the experimental treatment including the three doses of chemotherapy that would be used and the timing of each one.

It was a lot of words I had never heard before and to say it was overwhelming was an understatement.  When he did the “Okay we will begin in the morning,” attempt to leave I stopped him.  I told him that I was scared and didn’t understand what was going on and to help me support my ex better I have to understand the process going into it or I’m going to be a basket case and bug him and nurses endlessly with questions throughout the process.

It took him back for a moment but when he saw me with pen and paper in hand I think he knew I was serious.

This lovely man utilized the whiteboard in the room and detailed the entire process patiently answering each of my questions along the way.  The next day when I brought our son in to visit his dad we could both explain the process to him in a way that he understood.  He picked it up so well he began to tell the nurses when certain medicines were getting low in the IV and that his dad would be needing the next step soon.

I made it clear that I was not challenging him or expecting miracles, I just needed to know what to expect in order to continue to encourage and support.

In a professional world it can be difficult asking questions because you do not want it to be seen as possibly challenging your boss or co-workers.

I learned to preface my questions with, “I am not challenging you, I am trying to wrap my mind around this and sometimes my mind work the way I want so I have to ask questions until it clicks.  I want to make sure that I support you fully in this process.”

This way I took full ownership of the questions and made sure that it was coming from a positive position of support and understanding.  Of course there were times that my bosses might ask if there are any questions and when I raised my hand they did an eye roll.  I would just smile and tell them I didn’t want to screw this up.

Actually, people I worked with got used to my process and started to incorporate it when talking to me.

It wasn’t that they knew I was the one that asked all the questions – it was that I listened, learned and applied the answers.  I didn’t waste time with meaningless questions.  I had a point, a purpose or reason.  The bottom line was to understand in order to improve.  What boss or client is going to disagree with that bottom line?

I also took a lot of notes and keeping them on hand so that way I was not asking the same questions over and over again.  If a similar situation came up I had a great resource and better understanding moving forward.

It is one thing to ask for help, it is another to not utilize it going forward.  This is where you have to make sure that you listen and apply the answers to your questions.  If you do not then you are just wasting their time over and over again.  This is not only unproductive, it is disrespectful of them.

Even now when giving a workshop if I get a question from a participant I will ask clarifying questions of them prefaced with a positive statement.  It might be, “I just want to make sure I get a full understanding of your situation” or “I want to be clear on your question to make sure that I answer it for you.”

My communication style has not changed over my career path no matter what the position or industry.  What has changed is my ability to own that style and let the other party know the why in order that we have a more comfortable and fruitful exchange.

Be sure to engage those you are asking and thank them for assisting you.  Asking questions is a great way to open the doors for better understanding, improved skill set, greater knowledge and the ability to serve as a resource.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


Is Taking Advice From A Naked Baby With A Weapon Really The Best Plan?

Is Taking Advice From A Naked Baby With A Weapon Really The Best Plan?


Being a romantic I think most people would assume that I would get very excited about Valentines Day – but then most people would be wrong.  For me, Valentines Day is actually my dad’s birthday eve.


To me true romance isn’t about one single day and making sure you get the right flowers or candy for someone, true romance is sprinkled throughout the year in the every day living and interacting with that one person.  A spring bouquet in March for no reason; a card left in the car in June just because; breakfast in bed in November; or a drawn bubble bath in February including candles, brining over a pizza and bottle of wine because they day has stunk and no one feels like cooking; music and no dogs trying to drink the bath water; or dancing in the middle of the grocery store isle just because – those things to me are true romance.


Trying to make the perfect romantic night just one day of the year is like trying to get your act together right before evaluation time at your job.  It is something that could easily be done throughout the year.  However you only put the effort in when you think you are being judged.


Meeting and exceeding job performance is a requirement of your job – period.  Let’s face it, they did not hire you just to take up space.  You do have a job to do, remember?  I remember giving performance reviews and there was always someone that would kick it into high drive right before their evaluation was to be held.  It was very transparent and I was never ceased to be amazed by the resulting conversation.


They normally took a very defensive attitude in that they just proved they should get an increase in pay because what they did the past week or two.  So badly I wanted to ask, “Did you forget about the other 50?” but I refrained.


I had a young lady once that tried this little trick and I was very honest with her about it and how it would be perceived if she truly wanted to advance within her field.  My advice to her was to start each week as though there was an evaluation.  Look at what is expected of you, think about what the team needs and how she can meet or exceed expectations.


I also told her that at the end of the week she should evaluate herself, honestly.  In doing this she would also be much better prepared to give solid evidence of her growth, contributions and initiative which would more than likely not only result in increased income, but also increased responsibility and respect.


Just as you should not take someone special in your life for granted, nor should you take your job for granted – no matter what job that might be, no matter where they are in their career path.  Instead of looking at the negatives start looking at the positives – for example be thankful that you are gainfully employed.  Stop the self-centered approach of how it is not good for you and ask yourself if you are good for it, for your team.


Make that mad dash to the drugstore to buy the heart-shaped-chocolate-filled box for tonight, but what will really matter is what you do next week, next month, and every week and month after that.  Are you acting unselfishly, are you really contributing?  These are the things that will be remembered not only by someone special, but also by your employer.  It is pretty easy to score big on a single day or for a short burst, but the consistent, continual effort is what really counts and what will be most remembered.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.