Jam Session. Where the FORTE team rocks out.

Communicate Your Passion


For years now, you’ve heard Sari and I preach to you about breathing. Slow and low, slow and low. Through deep, relaxed breathing, we communicate that we are rational, that we are safe, and that we are capable. When you’re delivering negative information, dealing with a difficult coworker, or about to give a presentation, accessing your breathing will help you think, calm your nerves, and expand your chest cavity (leading to increased confidence).

Lately, we’ve especially focused on how to communicate leadership through breathing (and other nonverbals). Do leaders need this “slow and low” breathing? Absolutely! It’s by proving we can stay calm and rational under pressure that we demonstrate leadership.

BUT—and here’s the mind-blower if you’ve been following us for a while—deep, slow breathing is only one half of the equation. Continue reading: “Communicate Your Passion”

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Why Should I Get In Your Car?


We’re about a quarter of the way through our brand new online leadership course. Leadership has two main ingredients:

1) You have to be going somewhere and,

2) You have to have followers.

We’re using the analogy of a road trip as we move through the class, with the destination being your vision and the car being your brand, etc.

This past class we talked about the driver.

If I’m hitchhiking down the road on my way to the same place you’re going, and you pull over in a nice looking car, the first thing I’m going to do is peek in and decide whether I should get in. Are you safe? Are you a competent driver? Are you going where you say you’re going? Continue reading: “Why Should I Get In Your Car?”

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Lessons in Storytelling from Grandma


One of my fondest childhood memories is of Grandma and Granddad’s summertime visits. Every year they flew over from England and spent several weeks with my family. We would save up our favorite summer activities—drives through the Columbia Gorge, walks in the Portland Rose Test Garden, backyard campfires, the Clark County Fair, a week at Seaside—to share with Grandma and Granddad and show off the great Pacific Northwest.

The BEST thing about those visits, though, was that Grandma would take over the nightly bedtime routine, singing songs and telling stories until way past bedtime. She wasn’t really good at getting us to sleep. But she was GREAT at telling stories. My brother and sister and I would listen with rapt attention, eyes wide open, not a bit sleepy, as she spun tales…

Grandma & Granddad and I, enjoying a "favorite summer activity."

Grandma & Granddad and I, enjoying a “favorite summer activity.”

I’ve considered writing down Grandma’s stories, but the problem is there were so few words! In fact, she rarely completed a sentence. Her stories consisted of a few transition phrases, “He said… and then he… and she was like…” interspersed with miming and exaggerated facial expressions. You never doubted what happened—you could see it! You knew exactly how everyone felt because it was painted on Grandma’s face. You felt like you were really there, not just listening to someone tell a story.

Storytelling has become a lost art, and yet this skill turns information into something worth listening to. Want to make a memorable point? Tell a story. Want to excite and inspire? Tell a story. Want to sell a product, attract new clients, or start a movement? Tell a story. According to Seth Godin, “All Marketers Tell Stories.” Says Joanna Barsh, “If we want to lead, stories are one of the most powerful tools to mobilize others to follow” (Centered Leadership p. 178). Stories activate our entire brains: the cause-and-effect left hemisphere, the big picture right hemisphere, the instincts of the limbic system, and the emotions of the prefrontal cortex. Stories make information relatable and lead people to draw their own conclusions.

But so often when we try to tell stories, we bore people to tears! Why? Continue reading: “Lessons in Storytelling from Grandma”


Want to make it big? Do this one thing…


As I prepare for our first ever online leadership course that begins in a few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership and what it takes to be a leader.

Here at FORTE we say to be a leader you must have two things: a destination and a following. Meaning, if you aren’t going anywhere, there’s no reason for people to follow. Likewise, if you are heading somewhere, and no one cares, you aren’t a leader either.

There are several ways to engender a following, many of which we’ll discuss in the class. But this past week, I hit upon one very simple and enormously effective ingredient that, when coupled with other leadership qualities, has the power to catapult you to the top of your field.


This week I was in Minnesota where I was invited to speak at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Months ago I was perusing the NCSL website when I saw that one of my fellow vf_363888635_sirkenrobinsonspeakers was Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Robinson is a personal hero of mine. He holds the distinction of having one of the most watched TED talks in history, and is an incredible speaker. He often speaks on education and creativity, but this man could talk about the tax code and I would be first in line to hear him speak.

Which, as it turns out, I was. Kevin and I flew in early just to hear Sir Robinson’s presentation and were one of the first people in the auditorium. When he finally made his way on stage, the first words out of his mouth were a joke about his limp and the crowd roared. I could barely contain my excitement. I had to meet him.

We waited afterwards to see if he would greet the audience, but he never appeared. So we walked to the back of the auditorium to see if he would come out that way. No sign of him. We walked back to the front of the auditorium to check one more time when I saw him slowly making his way up the ramp, entourage in tow. I boldly stepped forward and began to tell him how much of a fan I was when Continue reading: “Want to make it big? Do this one thing…”

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Autopilot: A Great Way to Crash & Burn


Over the past few months, as Sari and I have prepared for numerous workshops, events, and products, one theme keeps coming up: Excellent communication requires you to be right here, right now.

If you want to get your point across and deliver your message with the highest possible impact, you MUST be aware of your surroundings and take your audience into account. Perhaps this seems obvious, and yet most people routinely fail to do this.

Why? That very word “routinely” gives us a clue: We are slaves to our routines, habits, and preconceived notions. It takes a lot less mental energy to go through life on autopilot than it does to be aware and adjust. Sure, there is a time and a place for mindlessness. Routines help us automate things that we don’t need to waste attention on. But when they aren’t working, we often still cling to them doggedly and wonder what’s wrong.  Continue reading: “Autopilot: A Great Way to Crash & Burn”

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