Life is meant to be experienced. Too often, we get too busy with doing that we forget how to be. We forget to be free and to be present. Our business becomes our primary focus, and it begins to suck the life out of us. We become fixated on the promise we make to become successful and live out our wildest fantasies. However, the fantasy begins to look like work, work, and more work. As a result, we find ourselves filled with anxiety and stress. Then our days and nights include limited rest, bags under our eyes, and unimaginable mood swings. If we’re not careful, then we’ll resent the thing we once loved, not due to a lack of interest but a lack of rest and a failure to make ourselves a priority. Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires rest stops, pauses, and breaks. However, the busier life becomes, the harder it is to take the moment we desperately need.

It was another restless night. I was tossing, turning, and struggling to return to a much-needed sleep. Then it happened, I turned into a sacrificial doll. Well, that’s at least what I thought happened. It felt so real at the time. Pins and needles began covering the entire right-hand side of my body, and I was in unbearable pain. I gathered myself, put on some sweats, threw my hair in a messy bun, and preceded to go to the ER. However, not before I grabbed my notebook, my laptop, and my phone. Once I was all checked into the little bed in the cold room, I rested my eyes for a moment and then began to set up shop. The overworked doctors and nurses watched me in silence as they took my vitals and provided me with updates. Once they cleared me to go with a diagnosis of nothing, then the questioning started. The doctor began to ask me about my work-life balance or a lack thereof, and then he moved on to my eating habits. At that moment, I realized I was surviving off one cup of coffee and snacks I struggled to recall. It turns out that I was a sacrificial doll, but this doll sacrificed herself.

At that moment, I realized things needed to change. After much deliberation, I told my family about the nothing-something diagnosis, and shortly after I was a cast member on Intervention: Work Edition. It became clear that my eating habits weren’t the only problem. Somewhere along the way, I began to do more work and have less fun. I began to neglect myself and my personal needs. I began to live life versus experiencing life. This incident forced me to treat my priorities as a priority and max out on the use of my calendar so that I could start living out loud again.

Here is how I began to prioritize my priorities, honor myself, and experience life again:

  • Anything that needed to happen went on my calendar, which included family time, personal time, chores, time with friends, etc…

  • I dusted off my bucket list and I began to cross off each one at a time.

  • My birthday month became an international holiday that included shopping sprees, poetry slams, romantic escapes, and living life on the wild side.

  • I spent more time with my kids and around other kids doing exactly what kids do which was being free and being present.

  • I allowed my family and friends to hold me accountable when I began to backslide and return to old habits.

Now, I would love to say going from working tirelessly to experiencing life again was easy, but I would be lying. It required a heavy amount of discipline, awareness, and accountability. I had to practice staying in the moment and not breaking the commitments I made to myself. Making your priorities look like your priorities is consistent practice and it should serve as a daily reminder that if you aren’t well, then nothing you touch will be well. Take the rest stops, pauses, and breaks that you need to experience life and maintain the love you have for yourself, your business, and your career.

Stay connected to learn more ways to balance life and business. If you have questions or need some direct assistance then please email us at

  • Mel B. Cook

According to Pew Research Center, the Coronavirus has left 71% of all Americans working from home and 54% with a desire to never return to the office, which means virtual meetings are here to stay and your team may be exceptionally bored forever. Well, we sure hope not! We can't let you put your colleagues to sleep, lead meaningless conversations, and kill the vibe. We want your virtual meetings to be productive, informative, energetic, and engaging so let us share with you what we have learned over the years.

Virtual meetings shouldn’t feel like sedatives were passed out in advance. They should be engaging and interactive without your attendees feeling forced to communicate and share their opinions. The issue is energy is contagious, so when a facilitator is nervous, fearful, anxious, or scattered then your attendees are bound to check out. As an organization, what are you doing to ensure your staff feels empowered to deliver a stellar presentation that leaves the audience ready for more? Are you providing them with the tools and training not to just practice public speaking, but to strengthen their delivery to accommodate a range of communication and learning styles? This is a must if you expect to foster inclusion and engagement.

Employees at most organizations have accepted they will attend boring meetings and dry presentations for life. The thought of being thrilled to attend meaningful meetings seems more like a fantasy. So, what do they do? Announce themselves as here, message their work bestie, and plan to disengage. It takes more than mandating cameras to be on and doing a few icebreakers to support adequate engagement. Matter of fact, requiring cameras on can be counterproductive and it increases Zoom fatigue because many people feel stressed when they are forced to connect with people virtually. Forcing your team and colleagues to read body language, pick up social queues, and manage relationships without physical connection can be exhausting. However, this doesn't mean to do away with virtual meetings. The goals should be to support genuine connections and increase the value of the virtual meeting. Ultimately, increasing the desire to attend, will to participate, and the understanding that this isn't just another boring meeting.

So, what do you do? What do you to keep your meeting attendees engaged and participating by choice? Our team has been flourishing in audio and virtual spaces for almost a decade. As a result, we are going to share some of the top tips we have learned from communicating with rooms of 1 to rooms of over 1,000 people. Not just any people, but typically people who were forced by their leaders to be in our presence.

Outside of sad, sleepy faces being bad for business, it’s bad for footage too. So, here are some tips you can implement immediately to make sure each presentation is engaging and informative… AND before you checkout, just know your personality type doesn’t matter.

Use case studies and stories to draw the attention of attendees. Providing real examples on how the information you’re sharing is relevant to the current needs of your audience is more likely to gain buy-in and feedback, so include names, examples, and direct situations. This makes your presentation appear real, relevant, and relatable.

Use your slide deck to enhance your presentation. Do not and I repeat do not read your slide deck verbatim. 95% of the time your colleagues are capable of reading, even if it requires glass. If you you were going to just read to them then the presentation could have been forwarded in an email. Therefore, remind them of why their physical attendance was required and their input is needed.

Use multi-media options to convey your message. Remember, we all learn and communicate differently so use audio, video, and images to share key points while engaging a variety of senses. Some people may find your verbal messages to be confusing or overwhelming but the picture may speak a thousand words and provide the clearly they need to push forward.

Use multiple presenters. Each presenter has a different dynamic and style which can assist with breaking up monotonous conversations, so find a friend to tag team longer meetings or presentations. Most people find a change in tone or speed to be delightful after sitting for long periods of time.

Use attendees to deliver the data or scientific information. Be mindful numbers are meaningful and interesting but they are not always the most exciting thing to present. Therefore, when delivering large amounts of data, engage the audience by using polls, games, and visuals to guess important numbers. You don’t have to use them at every click but include them in the conversation regularly.

Use your authentic voice, tone, and personality to converse. In the office people are more prone to code-switch, to adapt to their environment. As a result, we hide our natural personalities, and it comes across in everything we do. Consequently, it causes the loss of critical connections. Don’t overthink your delivery, trust your expertise, and allow your natural personality to shine. If public speaking scares you then pretend you are just talking to your most trusted colleague and focus on them versus the other.

Use professional development opportunities to enhance the presentation skills of the team. Our team would love to provide a complimentary lunch and learn to enhance your team’s presentation skills. We can personally show you how to put our tips in action and ensure your next presentation is energetic and engaging while remaining informative.

For tips, questions, or more information, please feel free to contact us at We'd love to hear your thoughts!

  • Mel B. Cook

Startup CEOs deal with an incredible amount of responsibility. It requires them to take risk, remain innovative, and make decisions during uncertainty. To be an exceptional CEO they must embody the traits of entrepreneurial leadership. Entrepreneurial leaders influence a collective to achieve a common objective. Entrepreneurial leaders are phenomenal at taking advantage of opportunities, but they are aware that they do not have infinite solutions to their challenges. As a result, they will need to collaborate with others to effectively grow their business. Therefore, an exceptional CEO practices entrepreneurial leadership.

I have served as a startup CEO and currently serve as a COO for a small business. My lifetime of professional experience supports that CEOs are exceptional visionaries. They are great at knowing what needs to be done and how they want their business to look. However, as high-level thinkers, most startup CEOs are not aware of how they will get it done and what discreet steps need to be taken Often, the vision does not come with a blueprint, so its imperative for exceptional CEOs to seek wise council and develop a team that’s connected to the vision. This is a standard part of entrepreneurial leadership.

When I first signed on as the COO of Grindation and Kendall Ficklin and Associates, it confirmed two things. One, that Kendall did an amazing job with influencing the team, exemplifying resilience, increasing the organization’s visibility, and communicating his vision, but the day-to-day operations were overwhelming. It was impossible for him to operate in his gifts and talents while maneuvering through the weeds. Frequently, Kendall would get tangled in the pastures. As a result, he was unable to take advantage of the mountain view and effectively keep his eyes on the moving parts of the business. Secondly, we need to fully leverage our team and networks to eliminate blind spots optimize our growth. Consequently, adjustments needed to be made to do more of worked well and address what could be better.

Once we partnered and I joined his council, we have been able to operationalize our goals with excellence and Kendall focused on being an exceptional CEO. Why? Because he employed the traits of entrepreneurial leadership to reach the objectives of the business.

Those traits included:

  1. Resiliency

  2. Strong Communication Skills

  3. Trusting the Team

  4. Collaborating with Brilliant Minds

  5. Using Story to Gain Influence

  6. Creating an inclusive culture

  7. Remaining honest and transparency

  8. Leading through curiosity

Exceptional CEOs practice entrepreneurial leadership to solidify their greatness, maximize their vision, and secure their profits. Will you be an exceptional CEO?

I would love to hear all about your CEO chronicles and ways I can keep you at the head of your game. Please feel free to join the team and I every Saturday morning for coffee by registering at

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