Jun 01

3 Simple Tips To Help You Be A More Engaging Speaker

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Eye Contact is Important. Unless You Do it Too Long, then it Becomes Creepy."

"What do I do with my hands?" That's the question I get asked the most when it comes to public speaking. It's as if our brains seem to shut down when we have to speak in front of an audience. Why do we suddenly become so self-conscious that our natural body movements seem alien to us? I believe it's that fight or flight response we get when we are nervous. We know that the people in front of us are not going to attack us physically, but we are afraid of being attacked emotionally. Putting ourselves in the spotlight opens us up to judgment that we fear will be harsh. Read the comments made on Twitter and Facebook if you don't believe me. Worrying about what others will think of us makes us hyper-aware of everything we say and do, including our body gestures. 

I've seen people on stage rooted to the ground as if they were a statue. Their arms pinned at their sides, and their feet won't move. I've seen people pace the stage back and forth until it feels like we're watching a  tennis match. I've seen people talk about a tragedy with a nervous smile on their faces. Of course, they don't realize they're doing this. It all stems from feeling uncomfortable and tense. When we incorporate solid body gestures and movement in our presentations, we will deliver an impactful message. 

When we watch someone tell a story and put their whole body into it, we're not just listening. The story draws us in not only with words but with facial expressions, gestures, and body movements. A good speaker is a performer. Here are three key points that will make even the most anxious presenter more confident in delivering their speech. 

Facial expressions: 

Have you ever seen a speaker tell you a story with little or no facial expression? We're left wondering if the speaker is trying to be funny or not. Mixed signals happen when we're not showing the message on our faces. If you're not sure how you're coming across, try doing your speech in front of the mirror, videotape yourself, or, better yet, perform in front of family and friends. Ask for constructive criticism. The more you practice, the more confident you'll become. 

Here's what you need to know about eye contact. Try to imagine that you're at a party with your friends. You want them all to hear your story. As you speak, take your time and look people in the eye. Not for very long because then it becomes creepy. If you're making a point or getting to a punchline, pick one person and say the line to them. It will feel to the audience that you're speaking to them as well. Maintaining eye contact with people will help you gauge how well your message is received. 

Hand Gestures:

Gesturing helps to add to a story visually. It has to be a natural movement. If it seems forced, our message could come across as disingenuous. It's essential to keep from fidgeting with hair or jewelry. It becomes distracting and will take away from your talk. 

Hold your hands between the top of your chest to the bottom of your waist as you're speaking. You can steeple your hands together or clasp them in front of you. You can also let your arms hang loosely by your sides. When listing points, you can use your fingers to show the numbers.  Use a tiny bit gesture when you are talking about something small.  When emphasizing a vital point, clap your hands together. A grand gesture is when you have both of your hands apart and palms facing towards the audience. A "me" gesture is any time you bring your hands towards your heart or chest. A "we" gesture is when you open your arms as if you're wrapping everyone in a hug.

Whole Body Movement:

Using your body engages your audience and puts them in the story with you. It's essential to have good posture and radiate confidence, but don't be afraid to move with your narrative. For example, if you're explaining how you needed to be on your tiptoes to see out the window, replicate the action. Let the audience see you on your tiptoes looking out the window. Using your body to be a character in your story or to show activity creates dynamics. It's this type of level changes that keep your audience engaged. Move across the stage with purpose. Introducing a new idea or transitioning to the next part of your speech is an excellent time to walk to one side of the stage. When you walk to the front of the room, it creates intimacy. The opposite happens when you leave too much distance from you and the audience. People will feel disconnected from you, and they may not know why. If possible, walk into the audience. It's a great way to ask questions directly and get everyone involved. 

Eye contact, hand gestures, and movement all come together when you take the time to prepare. It's uncomfortable to be a statue and even more painful to watch someone be a statue. Remember to breathe and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Believe it or not, people want to hear what you have to say. They also respect the time and effort you put forth to give them an informative and engaging presentation. If you're genuinely passionate and enthusiastic about your speech, your audience will feel it too. 

May 25

How Well Do You Listen?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"When we feel heard, we feel loved."

This is a scene from Pulp Fiction. Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace asks John Travolta as Vincent Vega an interesting question.

We try to be good listeners, but we also want to be able to respond with a meaningful answer. While the person in front of us is speaking, we're not giving him our full attention. Instead, we're thinking about what we want to say and looking for the right moment to add our thoughts. Some people won't even wait for the person to finish speaking and jump right in and start talking. ( I call those people, husbands). The truth is we're all guilty of doing this. We don't mean to be rude; many times, we're just anxious to join the conversation. Learning to be present and giving the other person your undivided attention reaps great rewards.

In business, relationships form when there is mutual respect. A big part of making that happen is actively listening to the customer. No one wants to feel bullied or cajoled into buying. We want to think that the person offering their product or service has our best interests at heart. When I sold wine and spirits to restaurants, the buyers always said the same thing to me. " Thank you for paying attention to what products I wanted. I don't appreciate it when salespeople ignore my requests." Yes, I had quotas to fill, but they still had to match what my customers needed. Instead of trying to give a lengthy sales pitch, I realized my best technique would be to listen. I was able to gain more insight into their thought process and be a more effective salesman. When I was a buyer, being quiet was my tool when it came to negotiating. Staying silent while someone goes through their various pricing levels gives us leverage. They're not sure what we're thinking, which makes them worried that we may not buy. They may drop the price before taking the chance of losing a sale.

In social relationships, being attentive to what our friends and family are saying will help us understand them better. We tend to step over them because we think we know where the conversation is heading. It causes frustration when we don't give them the time to complete their thought. Many disagreements happen when we don't let the other person fully communicate their feelings, ideas, or views on a subject. Sometimes we take offense before we have entirely listened to the other person's opinion. Keep in mind that we all need to be able to speak our minds without interruption. Our loved ones don't always need a solution for their worries, but they do need to give it a voice. When we feel heard, we feel loved.

Here are three tips to be a better listener.

  1. Practice mindfulness. Be present when you're having a conversation with someone. Put your phone away and have eye contact. Breathe and relax your shoulders. Your attention span will stay energized. 
  2. When it's your turn to talk, acknowledge what the other person said by repeating a few of their words. This way, you can clarify any misunderstandings. It also lets the other person know that you are genuinely interested.
  3. Ask questions. Having a conversation with someone is an opportunity to learn something new. Be open to hearing another point of view. Our experiences make up our perceptions, and when we can share that, we let each other in on how we think.

We live in a fast-paced technology-filled world. It's great to be able to slow down and have worthwhile conversations. I enjoy hearing other people's stories and gaining a new understanding of them. The more we share our experiences, the more we learn from each other. Success in business, as well as, social relationships relies on strong communication skills. Listening is a crucial part of it.

Next time you're having a meeting, be aware of how much you talk compared to how much you are listening. You may be surprised, or you may be my husband.

May 19

Why Does Change Scare Us?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

“I have a bad habit of not being able to break bad habits
 “I have a bad habit of not being able to break bad habits"

A better question may be, why is it so hard to change? The idea of forming better habits or changing our mindset seems daunting. Even when we know that the change would be beneficial, it's tough. I've read that it takes anywhere from 21 days to 254 days to have a changed behavior stick. Really? That's quite a significant difference in time. I'm not sure I can avoid cookies for a whole year. Just thinking about it makes me want to have a cookie right now. That's the rub. The more we tell ourselves that we need a better diet or be more motivated, the more we eat junk and procrastinate. 

Why does it feel that we are continually sabotaging ourselves? I know I feel better when I'm exercising regularly and eating healthy meals. It shouldn't be so challenging to stay on track, and yet it is. Stress, anxiety, and fear seem to go away with a yummy plate of chocolate chip cookies. Of course, then I'm left with feelings of guilt and disappointment with myself. I know there are worse things than splurging on dessert. It's a lack of self-control that makes me mad. I find myself in a silly argument justifying that it's not a big deal and vowing never to have a sugary treat ever again. I believe it's that all or nothing approach that will keep me in this vicious cycle. 

I have found through research that we can develop and adopt good habits. The time frame for it to happen doesn't matter. We just need to learn a few valuable tools to help us. Understanding ourselves and recognizing behavior patterns will give us clues on how to stay with a new program or thought process. 

Developing new habits means recognizing that we are ready for a positive change. Let's start by writing down our goals. Make a list of the pros and cons of changing or not changing our actions. When we can look at what we want for ourselves, a clearer picture emerges. It's a way to get out of our heads and stop the useless chatter. We can face a new challenge head-on when we have it in front of us. Staying present will help us make the right decisions instead of impulsively making the wrong ones. When we take a moment to breathe and relax, we allow ourselves to choose grapes instead of a piece of cake. (I want cake now). 

We can then develop a plan of action. Take small, incremental steps to build a new habit gradually. Trying to overhaul our life in one sitting is setting ourselves up for failure. For example, make a meal plan for the week. The decision for what to eat is not a question now. If you want to exercise more and don't know where to start, check out the hundreds of free work out programs on Youtube. Schedule one a day for the week and check it off your list. Missing a day is not a big deal. Don't let it deter you from finishing out the rest of the week. 

We will make mistakes, and we will not be perfect. That's how we continue to learn and grow. It's not giving up or deciding we can't change. Of course, significant life changes are confusing and scary. It's not easy leaving what we know for the unknown, even if the unknown may be way better. Enlisting the help of family, friends, or seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness but a show of strength. Support and encouragement go hand in hand when it comes to making a worthwhile change. 

Letting the people around us know we are taking on the challenge of a new habit will help keep us motivated to stay on course. We can keep them apprised of how well we are doing or that we may need a pep talk. Setting up rewards for ourselves can make the whole process feel like a fun game. It's all about our attitude and how we phrase our challenges. We can say, "Oh great, I have to work out for an hour, and I don't feel like it." Or we can say, "I can't wait to test my strength and endurance today. I know I'm getting stronger."

We are more adaptable than we give ourselves credit. Remember that every day is an opportunity for us to work towards our goals. Start the morning with a smile, and know that we will have a great day. We are ready, willing, and able to meet the challenges we set out for ourselves. Remember to ask for help when we need it and be there to help others. Change happens gradually. New habits and new behaviors take time. Which reminds me, I found a great recipe for banana, blueberry muffins. No sugar but will satisfy my sweet tooth. I'm not sure the cookie industry will survive without me, but I'm willing to take the chance. 

May 12

How Confident Are You?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Confidence is a funny thing. I think it means something different for everyone. I've spoken to people who claim to have a lot of self-assurance only to turn around and belittle themselves. I was at an event, getting ready to do my presentation when a  woman walked up to me and asked me the topic of my speech. I said it was "how to raise your self-esteem when your mind is telling you the opposite." She said, "Oh, well, then I don't need to listen. I have high self-esteem. I'm always very positive and believe in myself." I said, "That's wonderful to hear. Good for you!" She then said, "Of course, I'm too old to try to learn about some new idea or technique you have to offer." I said, "You're not old, and I'm surprised you feel that way." She didn't hear the irony in her words.

I've had friends tell me that once they've reached their goal, be it a promotion, have a significant other, or get to their desired weight; they will then feel confident. Their perception of confidence is something that has to be earned or given as a reward. They will not allow themselves to feel self-assured until then. When I have these conversations, I remind my friends of just how much they have accomplished. We should always have goals that keep us motivated to want to go after more challenges. We should never be discouraged and lose our sense of ourselves in the process.  Our belief in our skills and creativity should not slip just because we haven't attained all of our targeted results. 

I know, easier said than done. I struggle with having faith in myself all the time. That's why I feel I'm an expert. I'm a constant work in progress, but I do progress. I've had to learn how to stop the continual self-doubt my mind is so good at producing. It loves to tell me that I'm not very smart, talented, or brave. There are days that I believe that and have to find ways to change the detrimental mind-set. It's incredible how simple it is to tear ourselves down than build ourselves up. I have figured out how to quiet the noise in my head. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me. 

I call a friend and voice my fears out loud. This way, it gets out of my head, and I can hear how ridiculous it sounds. Most of what we're worried about is ridiculous. If I want to listen to the truth of my thoughts, I will call one of my brothers or sisters. They love a good laugh at my expense, but it keeps me grounded. We should all be lucky to have such a truthful, vicious family. (They are the best!)

One reason I may be feeling doubtful of my abilities is that I'm comparing myself to others. When we don't feel good about ourselves, we tend to believe that everyone around us is more successful and happier than we are. They may be, but that doesn't mean that we should lose belief in ourselves. I'll write down my goals along with the positive steps I've already taken. It reminds me I'm on my path, and everything takes time. 

The fastest way I know to feel good about myself is to put on music that makes me want to dance. My confidence instantly goes way up. It's that mind-body connection that works every time. My body is in a positive and uplifting motion that my mind cannot ignore. If I'm in public going to a networking event, I forgo the dancing and make sure my body is in a confident stance. My shoulders are back, my head lifted, and I smile. My mind doesn't argue with me or try to make me feel any self-doubt. 

Understanding the power of being prepared and ready to take on the world is something we shouldn't take for granted. The more we believe in our abilities, the more we will accomplish our goals. Being self-assured doesn't always come naturally, but we can work towards it. We need the courage to face our insecurities. Realize that the people who love and respect us do so because we support and encourage them. We need to do the same for ourselves. We don't have to wait to be confident, and we can feel that way anytime we want. Now, go put on some music and call a friend.

May 05

The Impressive Introduction

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Have you ever had an opportunity to discuss your product or service only to find yourself tongue-tied? The person who could open doors for you or connect you with a new client is not impressed. They're walking away, and you realize you missed your chance. We've all had moments where the information we want to impart is not coming across as smoothly as we would like. Being prepared is key to increasing our chance of success. Unfortunately, many of us tend to overlook an important component, which is our impressive introduction.

In school, our introductions are limited to, "What's your major?" "Where are you from?" "Do you have a boyfriend?" Even then, we take for granted that we have more exciting things to say about ourselves. I was helping a young man work on his introduction, and he told me that he had very little to say about himself. I asked him if he ever had a summer job. He said, "Well, I work as a lifeguard, and I'm enjoying that." I said, "Have you ever saved someone's life?" He said, "Sure, a few times." I looked at him with amazement. I said, "Don't you see how incredible that is? You saved lives! That's huge!" He just looked at me and said, "It just goes with the job."

When we finished his 30-second commercial, he was surprised by how much he had accomplished in his young life. He said, going forward, he would be more aware of the skills he has and setting even bigger goals. The feeling of being prepared and knowing what he will say about himself gave him a new sense of confidence.

A short, concise biography of ourselves gives us a foundation that we can work off of. When we meet people for a job interview or a networking event, no one is interested in our resume. They are more concerned about how we are going to help them. What specific benefits do we bring to the table? What have we accomplished in our area of expertise? Where do we see ourselves going on our career path? When we sit down and write out the answers to these questions, we give ourselves a chance to see what our future may be. We may even find a niche or a new job position we hadn't thought about before.

Be open to all opportunities. We don't have to check off all the boxes for a possible career. Sometimes, it's good to take on a challenge and see where it will lead. If anything else, it will give you a unique experience, another skill, or a stepping stone to a new job.

Here are five tips to get you started on putting together your impressive introduction.

  1. Write down your specific skill-set, for example, sales, marketing, cooking, photography, etc. Include your hobbies. What benefits do you have to offer a company? For example, excellent customer service, strong customer relationships, include stats and awards.
  2. Write your headline. Grab someone's attention with a quick opener. For example, "Give me ninety minutes, and I will transform you into an engaging, polished speaker." If you need ideas, look at the headlines on magazine covers. You'll notice, in just a few words, they have gotten you interested in a story. Try this technique and see if you can quickly sum up your service or product in a short sentence.
  3. Be confident. Before you meet someone, check your posture. Walk in the room with your head up and your shoulders back. Remember to smile and look him in the eyes. When you introduce yourself, be upbeat, and speak clearly. 
  4. Listen carefully. As much as you want to talk about yourself, take time to hear what the other person is saying. The more you pay attention to what the other person's wants and needs are, the better chance you have of addressing her concerns. When someone feels heard, the more she will want to engage with you. Connections and relationships form reasonably quickly when there's respect for each other's ideas.
  5. Practice. The only way to keep from stumbling over your words is to say your introduction out loud. Grab a friend and go over it with her. You want to come across as yourself. Memorize your pitch, but remember that it needs to come across naturally. The more you practice, the more you fine-tune, the more you will find your message coming across effortlessly. You want to sound conversational and not like an infomercial.

Working on your introduction takes time and effort, but it's worth it. It allows you to promote yourself and gives people an insight into what you can offer. You will gain knowledge by listening to the people you meet. You never know who you will make contact with that can provide you the chance of a lifetime.

Apr 27

Don’t Lie To Me

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"My memory isn’t good enough for me to lie"

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood taught me a profound lesson that is still with me today. I was probably five or six years old when I broke something. I'm not sure what it was. I just remembered not wanting to admit that it was me. My mother was mad, and she asked me if I was the one who broke it. I told her "no," and blamed my younger sister. My mother gave her a spanking. I started crying and telling her that I lied and that it was my fault. I hated myself for being so afraid of getting in trouble that I caused my sister pain. My mother was crying too. She was upset with herself for getting so angry. My sister was in tears, because, well, she got spanked for no reason. After all these years, I still feel horrible that I didn't tell the truth and caused so much heartache. 

My mother told me she didn't like liars. She said you could never trust someone who won't take responsibility for their mistakes. 

It's not easy admitting when we did something wrong. It makes us feel inadequate. For some reason, we think we're supposed to go through life doing everything perfectly. We should always say the exact right thing to everyone we meet. We should do everything correctly at work and never screw up an assignment or project. We should admit how many cookies we had today. My waistline is keeping track of that one for me. 

The saying, "The truth will set you free." is a strong and valuable statement. I've learned that people will give you more respect and appreciate your honesty when you own up to your mistakes. Covering up a problem only makes matters worse.  The truth will come out, and your reputation will be diminished. People will not respect or believe you in the future. Apologizing and admitting a mistake may be difficult, but in the end, it feels better to rectify a situation. We can deal with the consequences with a clear conscious. 

I remember messing up an account's order, and the wrong items were delivered. The owner called me and was furious. He wanted to know what happened and threatened to cancel his business with me. I told him that it was my fault, and I was on my way to pick up his correct order. When I showed up, the owner was smiling. He said, "I'm surprised you didn't try to blame your warehouse or the delivery driver. I'm impressed that you were honest and fixed the problem quickly. I appreciate that. I want to apologize for yelling at you."

We all make mistakes. It's how we handle it, that's important. We should do our best to forgive people when they tell us the truth. Business and personal relationships are more substantial and last longer when there is trust. To live in a lie is miserable for everyone involved. We have to be open and willing to hear the truth, even when it may hurt us. Except, of course, when I ask if I look fat in my jeans. The answer should always be, "No, would you like to have another cookie?"

Apr 20

How to Retain New Information Longer Than an Hour

By Celeste DeCamps | General

There are days when I can't remember my name but my dance moves are with me forever
There are days when I can't remember my name but my dance moves are with me forever

We all have a unique approach to how we learn and memorize information. Some people can read something once, and it's embedded in their minds forever. Others, like me, would have to read and reread the information for it to take root. What if there was a way to learn and retain essential details without worrying that we will forget them in an hour?  Understanding the mind-body connection plays a big part in our continuing education.

In her book, "How the Body Knows Its Mind" by Sian Beilock is a fascinating story. Art Glenberg is a faculty member at Arizona State University. He runs a laboratory for Embodied Cognition. He did an experiment that shows the importance of children actively involved in their education. He took two groups of first and second graders. One group was going to be acting out a story while the other group would take turns reading the story out loud, twice. The action group was able to comprehend the tale fifty percent more than the reading group. Even days later, the action group was able to recall more details. The idea that we insist on children staying seated and not be allowed to move around really should be changed. Their ability to learn would be more significant and probably more enjoyable. 

Sian Beilock goes on to explain the reason why so many musicians are so well versed in math. She wrote, "Because there is a strong link between fingers and numbers, developing better finger dexterity through musical experience can improve math skills."

Understanding the importance our bodies have on our ability to learn is key to developing better skills. It makes learning more fun but also more productive. 

Even as adults, we can learn by putting our bodies into motion. When we are putting together a presentation or a sales pitch, it helps to be up and moving. Practicing our speech will flow much better when we are standing tall and projecting confidence. When we are explaining the features and benefits of our product or service, we engage the audience with our body language. The information we want to convey is in our minds as well as our bodies. 

I know when I'm telling a story, I tend to act it out on stage. Not only does this keep the audience engaged, but it helps me with transitioning to the next idea. For example, when I'm talking about moving to another city, I physically walk across the stage. In my mind's eye, I "see" myself in the new place, and I can convey that to my audience. It helps me remember the point of the message and keeps me on track. 

When I find myself stuck on a project and can't seem to find a solution, getting up and taking a walk always helps. New energy finds its way into my body and my mind. I also find taking slow, deep breaths, has a way of clearing the cobwebs. 

The next time you want to hold onto new information, try putting your whole body into it even if it means acting it out in a silly fashion. When you connect your mind with your body, you'll find your memory works better, and your attention to the present moment becomes more natural as well. You may be surprised at how easy it is to recall all the necessary details, and suddenly trivia night is a breeze. 

For more information, please check out Sian Beilock, How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel  Atria Books. 

Apr 13

Our Favorite Uncle

By Celeste DeCamps | General

Uncle: The Man The Legend The Bad Influence

Co-written with Stan Waldman.

This story is inspired by Kent Edward Waldman and Zach Waldman

Uncle: The Man The Legend The Bad Influence

We all have someone special in our lives growing up. The world is new, and we are open to discovering as much of it as possible. We learn from our parents, but the real knowledge of life comes from that special aunt or uncle. I'm lucky, I was close to my aunts and uncles, but of course, there's always a favorite. For me and my brothers and sisters, it was hands down our Uncle Smokey. 

Smokey was larger than life. A good old boy from Indiana. He was tall with army cut brown hair. His skin was a burnt tan from doing construction all day. When he moved to Florida, he lived with us for a while. He would wake my brothers up in the morning by pulling their pillows out from under them. He would hit them with the pillows while yelling, "Get up and pee, the world in on fire!" It never failed to get a laugh. Smokey was good-natured and loved to tell jokes. If one of us fell, he would say, "Did you have a nice trip? See you next fall." Yes, I agree, corny, but when you're five, you think it's the funniest thing you ever heard. One day our uncle took a bad fall, and my younger sister, Tammy, stood over him and said, "Hey, Uncle Smokey. Did you have a nice trip?" For some reason, he didn't find it funny.

When Smokey got married, he moved into a house with a pool. My best memories with my family are all of us spending the whole day swimming and playing. Smokey would make his famous beer-soaked chili, and the day would turn to night. We would spend the evening listening to his stories, and our stomachs would hurt from laughing. There wasn't anybody better in the world to us. 

My brother Stan reminded me of the first joke Uncle Smokey told him.

"A man sits down at a diner. The waitress comes over to take his order. "I'll have the chicken soup, please." The waitress yells over to the kitchen, "One order of chicken soup." The man looks up at the waitress and says, "I've changed my mind. I'd like the pea soup instead. The waitress yells again to the kitchen. "Hold the chicken and make it pea." We still find that silly joke amusing because it reminds us of how much we loved our uncle. 

My brother Zach has taken over the mantle of fun, crazy uncle for our nephew Kent. Zach is a comedian and magician. He is the ultimate entertainer for all ages but especially if you're a seven-year-old. Just like Smokey, he talks to Kent as if he's another friend and co-conspirator. Zach has taught him how to play chess and how to memorize a deck of cards. The only downside is that Zach lives in California, and Kent lives in Florida.  When Uncle Zach does visit, they do their best to torture Kent's dad, Stan. They love teasing and ganging up on him.  There's something special when you can have a partner in crime that wants to enjoy spending time with you. It's not someone who is going to lecture you or tell you what to do. It's someone who wants to listen to you and not pass judgment.

Everyone should have someone in their lives that loves you no matter what. That cheerleader, we can always count on, to lift our spirits, and applaud our successes. We all want to know a person who motivates us to accomplish our goals because we want them to be proud of us. We should be aware that we need to be that special someone for others as well. The gift of unconditional love is what our uncle gave us and taught us to share it with others. 

The best part of Zach living in Santa Monica is that he can't be called into the principal's office when Kent is back in school. Our Uncle Smokey got called in a few times. Zach and Kent do Skype as much as they can. Kent is looking forward to the day when he can visit and have Uncle Zach all to himself. Zach is looking forward to the day that he can buy Kent his first shot of Jack Daniels with a beer chaser, just like our Uncle Smokey did. 

Apr 07

What is the Difference Between Daydreaming and Visualization?

By Celeste DeCamps | General


Growing up, I used to imagine my life as a beautiful princess. I married a handsome prince and lived in a magnificent castle. I went horseback riding every day and all the woodland creatures would come when I sang to them. Okay, so I watched a lot of Disney movies. I’m not ashamed to admit it. 


Of course, I didn’t bother with the boring details like my parents needed to be royalty for me to be a princess. I didn’t think about the fact that to meet a prince I would have to move to someplace like England. I would then have to hope that the prince was so desperate to marry that his parents would throw him a ball. I would have to figure out how to get invited, find a beautiful gown and arrive in a carriage that used to be a pumpkin. I really thought my life would be a Disney movie. Again, not ashamed to admit it. 

We all have pictured ourselves living a fantastic life filled with success and rewards. Did we include the various steps involved in making those dreams come true? That’s the difference between daydreaming and visualization. 

Visualization is based on more realistic and attainable goals. It’s setting our sights on a particular purpose and mapping out the necessary action to become successful. There are two types of visualization: Outcome and Process. Ideally they should be used together. 

Outcome visualization: This is using your imagination and seeing yourself achieving your goal. You need to include all the details to make this image seem real. What does your success look and feel like? Are you on stage receiving an award? Are you on a speedboat cruising down the Caribbean? Do you see everyone you knew in high school jealous of you now? 

Process visualization: This is taking action that will be necessary to make your goal achievable. This is when you create a plan, seek advice, find investors, or know what courses you should sign up for. 

Here’s how the process and outcome visualization worked for me. When I moved to New York I was looking for a career change. I had co-owned and managed a Jazz and Blues restaurant in Florida. I wanted to use the knowledge and experience I had gained without owning another restaurant. 

For the outcome visualization, I wrote down what my ideal job would look like. I wanted to have my own business. I wanted to use my sales and customer service experience. I wanted to be outside. I wanted the opportunity to see Manhattan. 

Writing down our goals helps us focus on what we want to achieve. Notice I didn’t put down what I didn’t want. I only used positive language. 

After I had written all of this down I tried to imagine what kind of job would check off all the boxes. Obviously it would be an outdoor sales job. I was discussing this with my brother, Stan. Together we co-owned the restaurant “One Night Stan’s”. He suggested that I look into a job selling wine and spirits. I was the one who worked with the sales reps and did all the buying. He said “I’m sure if you can buy it, you can sell it.” 

This type of sales job did match with the criteria I had laid out. It would be my own business because I would be working on commission. I would use my sales and customer service experience, plus,  I would get to see all of the city going from account to account. 

I looked up the distributors and sent them my resume. I was hired within a couple of months. I was selling wine and spirits to restaurants, clubs and hotels all over Manhattan. 

The process visualization I did was to take the necessary steps to be successful. I took wine courses, I attended seminars and I hustled to build an account list. I kept my vision of success and worked to make it happen. 

Many people find that creating a vision board helps them stay on track. It’s a fun exercise of placing pictures that represent the desired goals on a large poster. The images are a big reminder of the accomplishments they want to achieve. 

My friend Michele had placed a picture of a beach in Hawaii that she hoped to visit one day. She made that dream come true last year without realizing it. She took a chance on an airbnb on an island in Hawaii. She found herself on the exact same beach that she had a picture of. She is already working on expanding her vision board. 

A wonderful side effect of visualization is it helps to reduce stress when we are worried about a future event.  Going through the mental exercise and seeing everything turn out for the best helps us to stay relaxed. Picturing ourselves walking into a room with confidence and a smile puts us in the moment. We will feel better prepared and know that we will make a great impression. This is a valuable tool to have when preparing for an important presentation at work or going to a networking party. Seeing the occasion play out in our minds is a way of having our own dress rehearsal. We know we will be able to handle the situation with ease. 

Visualization has to go hand in hand with real action. You can picture the scene you want all day, but if you don’t take actual steps to get you there, it’s just daydreaming.

Take time to write out your goals. Find pictures that represent what you want to achieve. Put them on a board and place it where you can see it everyday. Take incremental measures that will get you closer to what you want. See and feel positive results. They will happen.

I have to go now. My prince is calling me and wants dinner. Apparently, I forgot to visualize the chefs, maids and butlers. 

Mar 31

A Love Letter to Skype

By Celeste DeCamps | General

I love Skype and Zoom. Right now, I wish I had bought stock in both. I’ve used these platforms for years but not as much as I’m doing these last few weeks. This invisible enemy that we are dealing with means we need to be socially responsible. We need to stay as isolated as we can to help stem the tide of this pandemic. Many of us are fortunate to have the technology to stay in contact with each other. 

The fact that I can hang out with my family and friends over the internet helps tremendously. It keeps the feeling of loneliness at bay. It helps to share stories and have a few laughs. I still marvel at how far we’ve come in our communication capabilities. I never believed I would be around long enough to live like the Jetsons. I’m still waiting to have my own Rosie the Robot Maid. Sorry, but Rumba is just not there yet. 

Growing up, calling long distance was expensive. I remember my mother telling me and my brothers and sisters not to answer the phone one night. Our grandmother was due back in Kentucky after she visited us in Florida. The phone was going to ring twice and that would be her signal that she had arrived home. We all sat around the table waiting for the phone to ring and pretending that we were going to answer it anyway. We were so easily amused back then. 

Fast forward and now to answer the phone I have to make sure that my room looks neat and clean before I can take a video call. Yes, I know I can blur the background. The problem for me is that it feels like I’m trying to cover up a lie and everyone knows the truth. I also have to decide if I’m going to Skype from my desktop or my laptop. If it’s a personal call then I use my desktop. I don’t have to explain the background that my family and friends see. They already know I have a collection of creepy dolls that sit on top of a large display cabinet. A cabinet that is filled with bottles of wine and liquor. They know I’m not an alcoholic that pretends her dolls are her children. At least I hope they don’t think that. I can’t take that chance when I’m on a business call. I’m sure they wouldn’t believe any explanation I gave anyway. 

I do miss the days of just answering the phone in my jammies. Now when people call they want to face time. I have to be dressed in clothes, my hair done and my makeup on. In other words, I have to look like a human being and not just sound like one. When I have the option to hit audio only, it’s somehow perceived as being rude. I’m not trying to hide, I’m trying to save you from the shock of seeing me in the bathroom. My husband once answered a face time call and tried to angle the phone so it didn’t look like he was on the toilet. It didn’t work. 

My dad is the opposite of me. He doesn’t particularly like the communication advances that have happened over the years. He started complaining when we got call waiting. He just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. He inadvertently hung up on anybody that called in while he was on the other line. We used to tell our friends that if they ever wanted to hear what a busy signal sounded like they could call my dad.

I remember the first time I showed my dad a video call. I was visiting him when my husband called. We were FaceTiming and I turned the phone to my dad so Eric could say Hi. My father looked at me incredulously. “Can Eric see me?” I said, “Yes, go ahead and talk to him.” All my dad could say was, “Oh for gosh sakes!” I looked at him and said “Welcome to the 21st Century. We’re so glad you made it.” You have to understand my dad still uses a flip phone. He says he doesn’t need a smart phone and he never will. He keeps telling me that we don’t need this kind of technology. His argument to me is always “What did we do before these cell phones?” My answer is always “Well, we would hope that when we got a flat tire that there would be a gas station in walking distance. We would also hope that the pay phone at the gas station was working and wouldn’t give us a disease.” My dad would then stop taking my calls for a while.  

The best person I enjoy Skyping is my seven-year-old nephew, Kent. We always have wonderful conversations because he has so many interests. We discuss the news, politics (he is a Bernie supporter) and the Titanic. He is an expert on the history of The Titanic and we discuss it at great length. Kent also enjoys doing magic for me. It’s better than any show on TV. I’m very grateful that I can visit with him safely and enjoy his company. 

We all need each other more than ever. Don’t wait for someone to call you. Reach out to a friend or family member and catch up. It’s important to share our concerns and find a way to keep our spirits up. Just remember to tidy up first and comb your hair.