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“Let’s Change Things Up”

July 2011


For this month’s newsletter, I thought I’d change it up a little… and talk about, well, changing it up a little.  I’m a big proponent of change – specifically change that produces growth and adds value. However, the human brain likes patterns and repetition. It takes less energy to follow a habit than it does to change things up a little.


So, here are a few thoughts on changing it up a bit that may help get you started.


#1 STOP asking people “How are you?”  Oh, but you may ask, “Traci, you’re always telling us to care about people. How can you say that?” My thought is that if you really cared about people, you’d ask them a different question… one that shows you are actually thinking about THEM! “How are you?” is a no-brainer and doesn’t involve thinking about or caring about people. It’s a rote question that you can throw out often anywhere to anyone.


#2 Switch things up a bit. Ask unusual, unique questions! As Og Mandino says in his book “The Greatest Salesman in the World”:


Since the beginning of time never has there been another with my mind my heart my eyes, my ears, my hands, my hair, my mouth. None that came before, none that live today, and none that come tomorrow can walk and talk and move and think exactly like me. All men are my brothers yet I am different from each. I am a unique creature.


Do you believe that? Well then why do you ask the same question everyone else asks? Switch it up! If someone’s looking a little down, don’t ask “How are you?” Acknowledge that you see them as a person and that you notice something about them. Then, ask a unique question like… “Do you have a case of the Mondays?” (Ok, stole that one from Office Space.) Ask if someone took the caffeine out of their coffee or simply if they need someone to talk to.


I had a client who complained that her husband never talked to her. She said that every day when they got home from work she would ask him how his day was and every day he would say “fine”.  I asked if she thought he was, all of a sudden, one day going to change his answer. She said he hadn’t in 4 years. Hmmm. I asked her if she could think of any way to get him to say something different. She said “No, he just won’t share his day with me.”  I asked if she’d be open to experimenting even if it meant that her husband might look at her with squinty, questioning eyes. She said “sure.” So later that day when her husband walked through the door, she asked if he enjoyed his lunch that day. He gave her a squinting, perplexed look and said, “No. I didn’t have lunch.”  Tada! A different answer!! And a way to finally talk about something in his day.


#3 Ask a question that shows you care by noticing something unique about them!  Recognize something about the person. On Friday I was checking out at the grocery store and noticed that the guy in front of me was wearing an LSU T-shirt and only had one item, an 18-pack of beer.  I could’ve just said, “Hi. How are you?”  What do you think his response would’ve been to that?  Let’s take a guess.  It would’ve been a simple “Hi” because he’d have thought my question was part of the greeting or he’d have responded with the ever-popular “Fine.”  Which considering the amount of thought that went into my question, he’d have put an equal amount of thought into his answer. 


So, I made eye contact with him and, since it was a Friday, asked “Getting ready for the weekend or is that just for tonight?”  He and the checkout guy, Randy (he was wearing a name tag), both chuckled. He said, “Well, sort of. I’m driving over to Louisiana and I thought I’d bring along a little beer because it’s cheaper here in Texas.” Randy nodded and said “Yep, the taxes are higher on alcohol over there.”  (Later found out that Randy has family there and so does his girlfriend. They’re going to Louisiana next weekend. Amazing how people like to share themselves when you express genuine interest in them.) As the LSU beer buying fan was leaving, I said “Geaux Tigers” and he smiled and raised an 18 can “cheers” in return.


Og wrote, “Vain attempts to imitate others no longer will I make. Instead will I place my uniqueness on display in the marketplace.”

I’m not sure if Og meant an actual grocery store marketplace, but nonetheless a grocery store will work.


In the past, I admit, I was fearful of changing it up. I had thoughts in my head that told me things like:

  • Don’t stand out
  • Don’t do that. What will people think of me?  
  • What if they think I’m weird, unique or different?  (Duh, I am weird, unique and different. We all are!!)

Those thoughts are just that… thoughts. Thinking habits that have kept me stuck doing the same things I’d always done and getting the same results I’d always gotten. Were these habits adding value to my life or to the world? No. They were doing the opposite. They were keeping my brain in the holding pattern that it had developed over the years and I wasn’t changing or growing.

I will … proclaim my uniqueness to the world. None can duplicate my brush strokes, none can make my chisel marts, none can duplicate my handwriting, none can produce my child, and in truth none has the ability to sell exactly as I. Henceforth, I will capitalize on this difference for it is an asset to be promoted to the fullest.


Don’t hide your uniqueness under a bucket or in the sea of humanity.  Share your uniqueness with the world. Oh, sure, you may make a mistake or not get the response you wanted. You may stand out. But the only way that you’ll have a chance to make a difference is by being different.


I don’t know if I’ll ever see 18-can LSU man again, but I do believe that he’ll think of me in a good way at some point this weekend. I hope that he feels like I cared about him and that he matters.


By the way, wouldn’t you rather be thought of?

The alternative is that you are forgotten.


Make a difference in someone’s life today

by changing it up a little!



Change starts with knowing where you are first!  A map without the YOU ARE HERE sticker is extremely hard to use.


Try our free assessment to become more clear on your starting point. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and a link to your confidential results will be emailed to you. If you’d like more information, you can also schedule a free 20-minute coaching session with me to review your results.


Even if you’ve completed it in the past, you are welcome to try it again.  Click here to begin.



Would you please help me with a poll that I am conducting?

Your answer will help me in putting together a book that I am writing.


What’s the single most important question you have about increasing your leadership?


To answer, please go to



I am currently scheduling speaking engagements for Fall 2011 and all of 2012.


If you, your company or organization is interested in booking me, please use the “Send Us an Email” link at the bottom of this column.


UT Dallas, TX Project Management Symposium

August 11-12, 2011


PMI Dayton / Miami Valley, OH
Chapter Dinner Meeting

September 8, 2011


PMI Baton Rouge, LA

One Day Workshop

(8 PDUs)

September 19, 2011


PMI Dallas, TX Project Summit 2011

September 22, 2011


To see Traci’s complete events list, click here.

Grow in Leadership, Influence & Trust


20 PDUs

Register TODAY!

  • Learn to be a better LEADER.
  • Grow your MINDSET.
  • Get MORE from your team.
  • Increase your SELF-CONFIDENCE
  • Lower your STRESS
  • Resolve and prevent CONFLICTS.

The key to your success is already between your ears. You may just need to make tiny shifts in your thinking to achieve much greater results.


You’ll learn to do this and MORE in your COACHING program.


Sign up TODAY as new classes will be starting in August 2011.



It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

– Herman Melville


What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

– Pericles


The greater intellect one has, the more originality one finds in men. Ordinary persons find no difference between men.

– Blaise Pascal


Be the change you want to see in the world.

– Mahatma Gandhi


Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has.

– Unknown


You, being yourself, helps others be themselves. Because you recognize your own uniqueness you will not need to dominate others, nor cringe before them.

– Jane Roberts


While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die — whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.

– Gilda Radner


When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.

– Ben Franklin


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