See it to achieve it: How to use visualization to succeed at work


Tips for visualizing success at work or play

If you are serious about bowling, you probably don’t want me on your team. Haven’t bowled in two decades and even then, didn’t score much higher than the typical highway speed limit. But in the name of team building, I went to an upscale bowling alley with a great group of co-workers in town for our company’s annual Key Leadership Summit. Started out with a couple of gutter balls, but then I paused and actively imagined myself doing better. By the second game, I hit two spares and broke a three-digit score for the first time in my life. While I’m not going to be recruited by the Professional Bowlers Association anytime soon, this quick shift made me think about the power of visualization.

Bottom-line, visualization is about “seeing it” – playing a circumstance out in your mind’s eye to achieve a desired outcome. Think it sounds too “new age” for the workplace? A growing number of corporate leaders use executive coaches, for whom visualization is a common coaching tool. According to TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett, 39% of CEOs in an informal survey he conducted used an executive coach in the last 12 months, a proportion that increased dramatically as their companies scaled. Visualization is widely used in competitive environments worldwide. Many professional athletes use sports psychologists to visualize success before games and recently departed boxing icon Muhammad Ali talked frequently about seeing himself win a fight before he stepped into the ring.

Feeling inspired to try visualization at work? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Focus on a clear goal. Let’s say you have a job in sales. There is a difference between having a generic goal of “landing new business” and a specific, well-defined objective of “securing $12 million worth of new annual, recurring revenue from two major industry players.” Brainstorm the attributes that you do, and conversely do not, desire to gain clarity on your objective. I use sales as an example, but it could be anything – aim to launch a new ERP system on deadline with minimal delivery disruptions, have all employees adopt a different payroll system within a 30 day period, etc.
  2. See yourself achieving this objective. A few practices to consider:
    • Paint a picture. Over 65% of the population are visual learners, so creating a visual reinforcement of yourself achieving the goal can be a great daily reminder. For example, you might search for multiple images online that represent your successful achievement. Going back to that $12 million sales goal, it could be represented by pictures of bags of money, the logos of sales targets, a picture of the resort in Tahiti you plan to visit after getting a major commission check and more pated into a PowerPoint presentation which you review weekly for inspiration. Or focus on one picture that says it all – a photo of an industry award that you’d like to win – and use it as your smart phone or laptop screen saver. Actor Jim Carrey, a big believer in visualization, wrote himself a $10 million check while he was a struggling actor to keep himself focused on the incredible success he rightly believed laid ahead. Whatever you choose, keep that visual in your line of sight or in a place where you check it regularly to reinforce your intention.
    • Word up. Some people, like me, thrive on words. So I often visualize by writing about a circumstance or desired end-state in my journal. Two years ago, I decided to look for a corporate job that let me combine my expertise in communications along with my certification in executive coaching. Some people thought I was bonkers after having my own PR firm for 13 years. But I knew that my passion had shifted to internal/corporate communications and culture, which was best done working within an organization. I started writing about what was desired in terms of job responsibilities, the opportunity to create new initiatives, the people I worked with, compensation and even the daily commute (which you have to consider in a traffic-clogged place like Atlanta).  It felt real, clear and I kept that positive vision alive by honing it frequently in my journal. Sometime in early September 2014, my journal entry visualization focused on receiving two great job offers on my birthday at the end of the month. Sure enough that is exactly what happened, and a great job beats a slice of cake any day in my world.
    • Audio reinforcement. I have also coached individuals who are motivated by audio and find that hearing a song or spoken word activates that feeling of success they seek. Does rocking out to “Eye of the Tiger” from the 1980’s or Justin Timberlake’s upbeat “Can’t Stop this Feeling” make you feel invincible when driving into work? Or does listening to a podcast from Oprah Winfrey , Tony Robbins, Les Brown or Warren Buffett inspired you to reach for maximum success? Listen to whatever floats your boat right before a big presentation or important meeting, thinking about the outcome you most desire. This tactic can get you pumped up and into the best mindset of achievement at the right time.
  3. Acknowledge victories. Visualizing success and then achieving exactly what you desire is an amazing accomplishment. Celebrate those milestone and let your gratitude act as rocket-fuel for future victories.

How have you used visualization at work? What was the outcome?

Eureka! Great ideas for locking in your “aha” moments and keen insights

easy-buttonEver had a brilliant idea or insight, only to get so lost in the swell of daily life – an impending work deadline, hungry kids, trying on 14 versions of little black dresses to find one that actually looks good for your high school reunion – that it slowly trickles out of your memory before you can do anything about it? It’s a pretty common occurrence in today’s 24/7 world. Who knows if Thomas Edison would have invented the light bulb if he was distracted by Twitter and I’m sure Marie Curie’s research on radioactivity would have suffered if she spent her weekends binging on the last season of “Orange is the New Black.” With a bit of foresight though, you can easily lock in those “aha” moments with these practices:

  1. Write it down. This means keeping a notepad and pen handy beside your bed, work desk, in your car and other places, or typing notes into your smart phone, to capture this lightening when it strikes. Jot enough notes that you can reconstruct that flash of brilliance when more time permits. For example, you might have a sudden insight on the best way to exercise despite an illness or recurring injury. Use keywords or an outline that will quickly remind you of the details that need to be filled in.
  2. Create a visual reminder. Many of my coaching clients are motivated by visual stimulation and memory. Recently one woman had some eureka moments about her career and love life that were centered around claiming what she wanted and taking chances. She came up with the visual reminder of a bottle of hot sauce, downloaded an image of her favorite brand online and then pasted it in several places, including as her computer screen saver, to serve as a reminder throughout the day. Your talisman can be a piece of jewelry, a photo or whatever floats your boat. A few years ago a friend gave me an “easy” button from an office supply store (you see an image of it pictured above) to help me remember success doesn’t have to be hard. It lives on my desk and I press it, enjoying the little voice that says “that was easy,” whenever that concept needs to be reinforced.
  3. Add embodiment. The truth is that emotions show up in so many places in our physical selves. When I keep thoughts bottled inside and don’t speak my mind, it usually ends up triggering a constricted throat or labored breathing that disappear once the emotions have been expressed or acknowledged. Let’s say that you realized that speaking authentically from your heart is going to improve your relationship with your spouse but then resentment over trash not taken to the curb or dirty dishes left in the sink starts to slither in. In this case, you might want to put your hand over your heart, sort of like delivering your own pledge of allegiance to love, as a reminder about what you truly feel.

What great ideas, realizations or insights have you had lately? How do you lock those moments in to help you achieve what your heart desires?

Three Reasons Why It’s Good to Sometimes Let Yourself Feel Bad

Group of business executives with sad emotionsWe’ve all heard about the dangers of peer pressure during one’s formative years when it comes to drinking, drugs or in the case of my high school years, to wear one’s hair as sky-high as possible. But years later, societal pressure for adults to always be upbeat and “turn that frown upside down” isn’t doing us a whole lot of good either. Because at some point you need to let yourself feel anger, sadness, disappointment or a whole host of other not-so-positive emotions to come out authentically happier on the other side of the issue. Here are three bonafide reasons why it’s good to sometimes let yourself feel bad:

  • Acknowledgement is an important part of the healing process.  Ever have a bad breakup and immediately try to convince all of your friends and yourself that everything is fine and you’ve already started to forget his name after spending the past 14 months together…only to find yourself wanting to cry hysterically a week later while delivering a PowerPoint about budget forecasts at work?  Whatever the challenging situation might arise, it is best to let yourself fully acknowledge the pain and sadness that is present for however long it takes – a few hours, weeks or months – in order to move on in a healthy manner. The key is to be loving and gentle with yourself while doing so, seeking the support of others, journaling and doing things to nurture your well-being in the process.
  • Bottling things up can make you act out. When you don’t give negative emotions their due, you might find yourself taking it out in non-productive ways. For example, a multi-year client recently faced a number of business challenges and had to completely eliminate their Public Relations work with my firm. We have lots of mutual respect for each other and parted on the best of terms. I tried telling myself and others around me that it was perfectly fine, and that’s just how it goes in business sometimes. But a few days later I found myself trying to inhale anything chocolate within a several mile radius. Glossing over the sadness I felt about losing a good client prompted me to turn to emotional eating instead. Only when I honestly expressed the sense of loss to myself through journaling was I able to start moving past it and those misguided sugar cravings disappeared.
  • Allows you to learn and grow. Tired of “learning experiences” that don’t feel so great in the process?  Well buck it up because they are just as important to your well-being as eating green veggies and getting enough sleep at night. Understanding what happened to cause your sadness, anger or loss can help you better deal with those situations in the future while becoming a more centered, better version of yourself in the process.

Have you seen the benefits of letting yourself sometimes feel negative emotions? How has feeling bad ever contributed to your greater good?

The Power of Choosing Your Attitude

Mike Thompson kona Ironman world championship finish 2012No matter what obstacles appear, you still have the power to choose your attitude. Just ask Mike Thompson, a four-time cancer survivor in Austin, Texas who now competes in grueling Ironman triathlons and speaks frequently to inspire others. He offers a great perspective for how anything is possible as long as you are alive.

In 1995 at age 10, Mike was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia, an adult form of the disease rarely found in kids. Over the next five and a half years, he dealt with relapses, 75 surgeries, two bone marrow transplants, numerous complications and a 12-hour complete jaw reconstruction.  When an infection from the jaw surgery left him in constant pain, Mike fell under the spell of prescription pain meds for four years until a 2007 stint in detox broke that addiction.

“You are in charge of your destiny,” notes Mike. “I still battle with jaw pain, depression and fear, but I’ve chosen to adopt an outlook that I’m better off now than I’ve ever been. Life is worth fighting for and every day should be celebrated.”

Active living with an eye towards helping others became his driving passion. After helping to raise over $6 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with his Team in Training Group, Mike started competing in triathlons. He completed a half Ironman in 2010 and a full Ironman race the following year with a cancer-fighting platform. Then Mike entered this 90 second video into an Ironman contest seeking inspired athletes who have used triathlons to overcome obstacles.

Mike Thompson’s Inspirational Video for 2012 Ironman World Championships

He won, and got to compete in the prestigious 2012 Ironman World Championships in Kona. Today Mike inspires countless numbers of people to choose a positive attitude through his speaking engagements, writing and personal conversations.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to the amazing women at the website, where Mike is a guest blogger. Check out their great info for people like me who love a triathlete and Mike’s posts for additional inspiration.

How has choosing your attitude helped you overcome an obstacle or difficult situation?  What person in your life has inspired you to achieve what once seemed impossible?

Want real change? Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and focus on supported goals instead

Ditch the New Year's Resolutions According to a recent Marist Poll, 44% of Americans are planning to make a change in the New Year. Many of the survey respondents are making New Year’s resolutions for better health or a happier life, with the largest amount aiming to lose pounds, exercise more or eat better. However – no surprise here – only 8% of people actually keep those resolutions according to a University of Scranton study.  Bummer, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Here are a few steps you can take to create real, positive change in 2014:

  • Set realistic, clear goals. Let’s say that you vow to be happier in 2014. What does that actually mean? Do you crave more alone time, want less stress, desire a new job or a better relationship? Break down that big desire into a clear goal in order to make it actionable and obtainable. For example. if decreasing stress is your objective, then your action steps could include installing a smart phone app that takes you through a guided meditation three times a week and stop checking emails at least two hours before bedtime to give your mind time to rest.
  • Plan ahead. Haven’t tried to exercise since George W was in the White House but now understand that moving more will give you more energy? Awesome goal. But don’t just try to jog on the treadmill wearing flip-flops and street clothes (no lie, saw a dude in just that garb at our hotel gym in the Bahamas last week). Do some research and create your fitness plans in advance to ensure better results and minimize injuries. Many gyms offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer who can teach you the most effective ways to exercise. Search online for “how to” videos and content on running, Yoga, swimming better or just about any other activity. Tell the  Zumba instructor this is your first time in class so he/she can give you pointers and keep an eye out for you. And dress for exercise success to maximize your performance and comfort.
  • Make it real. The more you can bring a goal to life increases your chances of long-term success.  One of my big goals for 2014 is to finish writing and publish my book, which focuses on helping people get unstuck and have the life of their dreams.  I’m visual, so making this goal a reality for me includes journaling about it, having it become one of the cornerstones of the vision board I’m creating this weekend with friends, posting positive messages about it on the edge of my computer screen and more. Pick one of your goals for a moment and think about how you can bring it to life. Since weight loss tops the list of so many people, could it be motivating to take photos of your progress each month to share via social media, pick out clothes you plan to buy in advance when certain milestones are met, put a photo of yourself at your hottest on the front of the fridge as a motivator to make healthier food selections?
  • Get support. Sharing a goal with like-minded, positive souls can increase your chances of success. My husband, who is already fit as an Ironman triathlete, is about to start a 30-day Paleo eating program to clean up his nutrition. His triathlon coach is doing the same, which creates a direct connection of support, while I’m reinforcing my own clean eating habits by ensuring we won’t have any processed foods, sweets, items with gluten or dairy around that don’t meet his goals or mine either. Even this little circle of support will help us all succeed in our healthier eating objectives. Whatever you are focusing on, talking about your goals and sharing milestones, challenges and tips with others can really make a difference.

What are some of your goals for 2014? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions and if so, what makes or breaks them?

Three Ways for your Brand to Engage Target Audiences

Brand engagement has nothing to do with the ring!

Brand engagement has nothing to do with the ring!

The term “engagement” typically brings to mind images of diamond rings, creative proposal stories and bridezillas who obsess about finding the perfect white doves to release during their vows. (At least it does for me, a pop culture junkie and relative newlywed.) But when it comes to your brand, engagement is all about connecting with the people most important to the services or product you provide – clients, customers, business contacts and supporters. Here are three ways to engage target audiences and enhance your branding:

  1.  Pay attention. Understand what is most important to the people you serve. Let’s say that you have a food product whose primary audience is working mothers that want easy-to-prepare, healthy and cost-effective dinner solutions for their families. Make their lives easier by offering simple, quick recipes and touting your positive health and taste benefits on an eye-catching label. Consider reaching out beyond the grocery shelves to embrace the causes they and your brand truly care about through a social responsibility marketing effort.  
  2.  Establish a dialogue. One-way communication is more than just boring…it can turn people off of your brand. Rather than just talking “at” target audiences through traditional advertising, use social media tools to listen to their input, comment on their content and truly interact. That’s how you forge a deeper connection and brand loyalty that triumphs slightly cheaper prices or special offers from a competitor. Pressed for time? Focus on two vehicles to start – maybe you concentrate on Twitter and Facebook, and then add Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Instagram or whatever else fits your needs down the road.  
  3.  Be authentic. Remember how mom always said “just be yourself,” and everything will work out? The same is true for your brand. Embrace who you are and use that distinctive personality to connect with the people most important to you. For example, I spent a big chunk of my career thinking I had to be all glossy and polished, when my true core was as goofy, excitable and demonstrative as a Labrador puppy (don’t worry, I’m past the crate-training phase). Once I embraced that part of me, letting my “freak flag fly,” my business and influence grew. So stay true to yourself while engaging target audiences, and let that authenticity strengthen your connections. 

Have anything to add to the list?



Miley Cyrus: Brilliant Branding or a “Wrecking Ball” Train Wreck?

miley-cyrus-300x400Between the MTV Video Music Awards and the release of her new birthday-suit clad music video, the former Hannah Montana has been getting lots of attention lately.  Admittedly, many of her actions have been questionable and sometimes downright skanky. Parental groups are in an uproar over their teenager’s former role model now twerking instead of teaching life lessons in a heartwarming manner, and Vogue just dropped her as a cover model. But from a branding perspective, her actions have been just short of brilliant. Want proof? Read on…

1)      Generating off-the-charts buzz. According to Twitter, the “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” medley garnered 306,100 tweets per minute during the East Coast airing of the show and she also gained 50,000 Facebook likes during the night of the VMA’s. And the momentum continues. As reported in this article from the Los Angeles Times, the premiere of her music video for the single “Wrecking Ball” gained 19.3 million views in the first 24 hours, breaking all industry records. People can’t seem to get enough of Miley, and her music, with the recent spike in exposure.

2)      Following a tried and tested path. Think about other musical icons who made a name for themselves with “shocking”(at least at the time) antics. Madonna, Lady GaGa, Britney Spears, Prince…as you can see from this list, Miley is keeping good company. Admit it, her actions wouldn’t have been as shocking if they came from Ke$ha or Nicki Minaj. Along with all of the buzz, she is making money – “Wrecking Ball” sold 90,000 downloads following it’s debut at #13 on the Billboard charts.

3)      We are still talking about her. The VMA’s took place over two weeks ago, and public fascination with Miley remains at an all-time high.  I’m a forty-something blogger who focuses on branding and healthy living topics, but the uproar/strong sales success had promoted even me to write about it. Personally, I hope she has some grounding forces in her life to give positive support and guidance during this crazy time. But one thing is for certain – Miley’s been a marketing maven with her recent moves.

What do you think?




New Branding Products Deliver What You Need

Shira Miller Communications: experts in Branding and Competitive Advantages.
The Rolling Stones might have sung “you can’t always get what you want,” but when it comes to insightful branding consultations and projects, we can deliver exactly what you desire and need. (Take that, Mick Jagger!)

While much of our work focuses on retainer clients, we have received many requests for specific branding consultation work. You see, smart branding isn’t just for big corporations or those with especially deep pockets anymore. That’s why we have just launched several new branding offerings to serve small companies, entrepreneurs, consultants, wellness practices, executive and life coaches and more:

  • Basic Branding Consultation
  • Identify Competitive Advantages & Branding Enhancement Ideas
  • Brand Awareness Project

Whether you are looking to gain more market share by identifying and promoting competitive advantages, want to brainstorm ideas for the direction of your brand or are looking to increase your visibility, the chances are good we’ve got a solution for you! Visit Branding Packages to learn more!



Social Responsibility Marketing: Showcasing Why Safety Is As Important As Winning

iStock_000001221748SmallIs safety as important as winning to your school sports team? That’s the question students nationwide answered in our client Brock International’s Safety MVP Contest, which we created to recognize U.S. schools that place a high value on student-athlete safety in light of the growing youth sports concussion crisis. A lot of great video submissions were received and top honors went to Atlanta high school juniors Brendan Rosenberg and Jacob Schlanger.

“Our coaches’ start every season talking about safety and making it a priority,” explained Rosenberg. “The school’s philosophy is not ‘to win at all costs’ because each coach wants his or her players to be healthy, safe and have longevity so they can continue to build a winning team season after season.”

Rosenberg, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Schlanger, who attends North Springs High School, took a humorous “Sports Center” approach to the topic as you can see in the video below. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School will receive the competition’s grand prize of $5,000 worth of sports equipment for their team. 

“We were deeply moved by the terrific entries received,” said Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock International.  “Our team hopes this contest brings more attention to the proactive efforts taken by coaches, schools, parents and America’s youth to reduce the quantity and severity of injuries on the playing field.”

In addition to generating positive publicity for Brock, the contest helped communicate the firm’s key messages of safety first and the importance of preventing injuries from the ground up as part of a social responsibility effort at

Does your organization have a compelling idea for giving back to others? Community outreach and social responsibility marketing are some of our areas of expertise. Contact us if you’d like to learn how we can help your company engage important audiences.


Five Ways to Harness Your Life’s Passion, Improve Your Brand & Get More Business

Freelance Forum attendees collaborate during Shira Miller's branding exercise.

Freelance Forum attendees collaborate during Shira Miller’s branding exercise.

If you believe work and play have to remain separate, think again. Because your life’s passion – whether it is running, baking, gardening, planning family trips or finding that perfect pair of wedge heels at a fraction of the price – can help you create a more distinctive brand and attract clients.  That’s the topic that Shira Miller addressed as the guest speaker during the May 2013 meeting of Atlanta’s Freelance Forum group of creative professionals.

During the interactive presentation, Shira shared steps and techniques for leveraging your own life’s passion to grow your brand and business.  The discussion culminated in an exercise where audience members partnered with each other to hone in on a passion and leave with execution steps.

“Shira was one of the most engaging, positive speakers we’ve had. Using an interactive and personable approach, she made many of us feel like we could approach our work with a fresh perspective,” noted Freelance Forum Board Secretary Katy Griggs of Griggs Communication.

Interested in leveraging a personal passion to bolster your brand and business growth? Contact us now to learn more.