July 2012

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SpeakStrong Newsletter July 18, 2012







Hi from Cascade, Colorado, where the forests behind our enclave are burned, but the community is fine. It seems like yesterday that we watched the fate of our homes change in the form of a red fire line that Type I fire incident commander Rich Harvey pointed to on a map on television. That line was yards away from our enclave and home. We  were preparing ourselves to lose everything. In the end we lost nothing. Instead, our friends on the other side of the ridge are now homeless. It was a dramatic experience for the entire community. I share my experience of it in my Cascade Chronicles at: www.speakstrong.com/fire.

I’ve never known this as much as I know it now – words are important, but have their limit. The pictures help me convey what it was like for us.

Scroll on through. www.speakstrong.com/fire. Then I invite your comments on one of my blog posts: www.speakstrong.com/blog  


Ann’s New Dream Job – the Organic Path to Excellence

Ann and I got out for a hike in our charred trails this week. That’s our last trip on those trails – the signs to stay out are very forbidding now, and we happened to run into our state senator, mayor, fire chief, and others who reminded us that the forests are closed. Okay, we get it. Thanks for being so gracious about it. 

Anyway, Ann has her dream job. Her new team is delightful but disorganized, and Ann is all about organization. (Her tea cabinet in her home is a thing of beauty.) They’ll decide what to do with the information, but as with all great reports, Ann told a story, made the story credible with data, and painted a picture so clear that the action plan almost is creating itself. 

In a previous job, Ann’s clarity threatened her team. In this one, they love it. So how did she get where she is? By trial and error and studying what didn’t work out as a guide to finding a career opportunity that is. Yes, she plans, but she also follows an organic path to excellence. Others might not have even recognized the breadcrumbs that marked the path that led to her success. 

SpeakStrong Summer School Webinars Starts with an unusual career path webinar – this Friday!

Okay, a wedding, a honeymoon, four trainings and a fire evacuation later, I’m ready to rock and roll. I’m creating a webinar series. Two of the webinars are free. Five of the webinars will be for a small group of 5-8 people who are interested in what I would call both remedial and advanced communication development.

I say remedial because we’ll go over communication basics that we should have learned, but most of us haven’t. Many are communication skills that I still practice deliberately after all
these years. I also say advanced because we’ll be exploring communication subtleties that require a high level of communication consciousness. I still catch myself “going unconscious” at times.

Summer Webinar Schedule

FREE SpeakStrong Summer School series: attend either one or both

1. Friday July 20th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Opportunitynowhere (now here) SpeakStrong and an Organic Path to
Career and Personal Excellence
Expanded description below
Register now: www.speakstrong.com/webinars 

 2. Friday July 27th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Communication Skills in a Beyond-busy World

SpeakStrong Summer School Small Group Intensive, just $225 for the intensive series 

Highly interactive. Limit 8 participants This will include assessments, individual guidance, exercises, copies of my SpeakStrong book and much more. This will give a great boost to your practice of saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it. 

Session 1. Thursday August 2nd: 11 AM Mountain Time
SpeakStrong Summer School Launch,
Your SpeakStrong Communication Reality and Possibility:
Assessments and Vision 

Session 2. Monday August 6th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Say What You Mean: How to Find and Empower Your Individual Voice

Session 3. Thursday August 9th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Mean What You Say: Protect the Power of Your Voice Through Verbal
Precision, Intention and Commitment

Session 4. Monday August 13th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Don’t Be Mean When You Say It: Influence Through Grace, Not
Persuasion, Manipulation or Power

 Session 5. Thursday August 16th: 11 AM Mountain Time
Success From Finesse: How to Polish Your Life and Career by Polishing Your

Registration will open soon. 


The first free webinar is available for registration. You can read more about it and register here. www.speakstrong.com/webinars

I’ll be posting the slides and some worksheets on that page and the landing page before Friday.

The second webinar will open for registration later this week. 

The SpeakStrong Summer School will only cost $225 and is limited to eight participants, so you might want to let me know if you want me to hold a spot for you before registration opens. It comes with all kinds of extras, including the SpeakStrong book and personal assessments. Also, the times are preliminary, so if you’re interested, but the specific dates don’t work for you, email me.

SpeakStrong Summer School Launch:


How did Ann end up in her dream job on her dream team? How did Nancy become Medical Staff Coordinator? How did I go from never having written anything to writing a book that sold over 300,000 copies? How did Betty change her work from something that was “killing her” into what she now considers a ministry that she is grateful for? 

They (and I) followed an Organic Path to Career Excellence.

Speaking Strong is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it. That practice and the philosophy behind it leads to a different, more essential way of living. That includes career planning and goal setting. This webinar will help you find success principles you can live by.

This presentation evolved out of an Executive Admin training I gave last April in Dallas. The group wanted more emphasis on career planning. That led me to some deep thinking about what I know about career planning, advancement and success. That led me to write an article about it in my Office Pro Magazine column. That evolved into this webinar.

Office Pro Magazine Article:

In other words, this webinar came about organically. I’m excited about it, because there are things in it I don’t hear other places.

So register now 

Miss the Weekly Newsletters? Register for the Blog

I have lots of blog posts, so if you’re not subscribed to it, I invite you to. You can register here:

Here’s one of my favorites. I overheard a young girl talk about the fire.

Thanks! I hope to see you Friday!

PowerPhrase: What Improvement Did You Make in How You Work Today?

powerphrase icon2One of the success tools that Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers uses is requiring every employee to make a “2-second improvement” each day. That’s an improvement that saves 2 seconds in something they do. It’s not about improving the end result, it’s about improving how they get to the end result. 

That requirement isn’t just some nice idea that everyone ignores. Each employee is expected to—and does—develop a small process improvement each day. Some are shared in the morning meeting and others are reported in the “morning improvement walk” where the manager asks a version of this question.

  • What improvement did you make in how you work today?

Why not ask that question of yourself, and of people you work with each day? Not only will it get everyone thinking in terms of improvements, but you’ll learn some best practices that way.

My simple improvement today was to download the app for my screen sharing protocol. It saves at least two seconds when I want to share my screen with someone. Actually, I have more, but I’ll keep it simple and share just one.

Addressing a tragic and touching conflation

young-girlThe sound of her voice was matter-of-fact, but the words had a tragic yet touching implication. “The fire came to the edge of our driveway and stopped”, the young girl said. “But it would have been better if our house had burned, because it burned a bigger community instead”.

Wow. What was I hearing? Apparently this child believed that her house was saved from the Waldo Canyon Fire at the expense of others. An adult challenged her remark right away by saying, 

  • The fact that your house didn’t burn has nothing to do with the fact that theirs did. You can be happy your house is okay and also sad that theirs burned. 

My heart melted as I listened to the discussion. Yes, it was a shift in the wind that changed the fate of so many that day. But it wasn’t as if other houses were burned because hers was saved.

Underneath this rather tragic conflation of two events and misplaced sense of responsibility, shone a beautiful and generous young heart that yearned for the greater good, even at her own expense. 

I was moved by this display of kindness – one of many that I have been privileged to experience in recent weeks. 

Waldo Canyon Fire Animated Map

Jerri Marr reported that she had run out of fingers in counting how many communities the Waldo Canyon Fire affected. Here’s how it spread. On Tuesday, June 26th. a fire official said “The outlook for Cascade is poor”. “It’s not a good area with the canyon there,”

A shift in the winds shifted the fate of many communities that day. 

Tracking, mapping  the spread of the Waldo canyon Fire




















My pictorial chronicle of The Waldo Canyon Fire begins at www.speakstrong.com/fire

Jerri Marr is My Kind of Superstar

Jerri Marr Briefs UTE Pass residence about flash floods

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire click here

When Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests stepped into the UTE Pass resident’s briefing last night, there was an audible gasp in the room. Marr gained fans across the city and neighboring communities with her twice daily appearances on local television for the Waldo Canyon Fire Briefings. I’m in the list of her fans. 

Marr also gained respect. When the UTE Pass community realized she would be speaking, we broke into applause. I clapped too. Marr seemed a bit taken aback by, but warmed, by the response.

She told us:

  • We’re not here to scare you. We are here to prepare you.
Marr’s presence and these words underlined the seriousness of the flash flood threat in Cascade and Green Mountain Falls Colorado. Her words didn’t scare me, but they motivate me to take preventative action. They inspire respect for the power of water in nature, just as I recently learned to respect the power of fire during the Waldo Canyon Fire (which started three weeks ago today). I would pay attention and figure out how to be prepared and take all flash flood warnings seriously.
Why has Marr become a kind of a superstar? What makes her such an effective communicator? Why would I, as a communication specialist, prefer to read a book called “The Presentation Secrets of Jerri Marr” (if there was one) to reading “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs?”
Here are some thoughts.
  • Marr is down to earth yet knowledgeable. It’s like talking across a kitchen table with someone who knows their stuff. 
  • Marr is informative and factual while being caring. She did quick “shout-outs” to kids who had lost their homes before telling us what we wanted to know about the progress of the fire.
  • Marr is light-hearted without being flip. Even when she reports the heart-breaking and terrifying news that the fire spilled over into Colorado Springs, she portrays a sense of calm, competence and hope. 
  • Marr levels with you. She explains that the 65 mph winds that pushed the fire into the city of Colorado Springs were “not in the plan”. 

The main thing is, she’s a natural. You don’t get the impression that she is practicing great presentation skills. You know you’re listening to someone who knows, cares and shares.

I contrast that to Steve Jobs who could put on a great performance. He had practiced techniques. I can learn from him too, but in my opinion, Steve Jobs is no Jerri Marr.


Check her out below. She’s got a few kindas in there, but she’s so effective she gets a pass on all the communication quirks that would cost her a few points in a Toastmaster’s meeting. 

If you’re a Jerri Marr fan too, I invite you to comment below. 

My Waldo Fire Chronicles: Pictures and Tales from Cascade CO

pathYesterday I returned a movie to The Cascade Public Library and was struck by how busy it was. The librarian told me one group was playing cards and the other was learning about fire. It sounded like something I would want to hear, so I sat myself down to listen.

An adult led a group of local children in a conversation about their experience of The Waldo Canyon Fire. Her first question was – tell as about when you first heard about the fire. It was healing, heartwarming and fascinating to hear their responses. The next focus was an activity where the children drew a fire-related image. I left at that point since it’s hard to eaves-drop on art in the making.

I thought – this isn’t something just the kids in the community need – we all do! 

But I kind of did that already. I created my own Cascade Chronicles which both tell the story of the Waldo Canyon Fire as it unfolded for me and my husband. People tell me they find it stunnning. It’s one story among many, and they all need to be told. 

Something happened to me, to us. We’re different now. This was my best way to communicate what I and we went through. Words aren’t always the best way to say things. 

Please join my personal chronicles of the Waldo Canyon, Pyramid Mountain, Colorado Springs fire.  Click on through to share the experience of before, during and after. 

Wishing you wholeness,

Meryl Runion Rose

Free Webinar: Opportunitynowhere: (now here) How to Grow Your Success Organically

This webinar is complete but will be rescheduled to present live again.
Enjoy the slides and handouts!


PDF Handouts for the above slides – click to download.

 Opportunity now Here handouts




The worksheet, slides and audio links from the previous interaction are below.
Worksheet     Slide     Audio


I found that no matter how useful information about how to succeed in the world is, there is always something that isn’t a fit and either turns me off too much to try or overwhelms me when I do. This is my life. Your life is your own. We are unique. Speaking Strong is about saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it. That practice and the philosophy behind it leads to a different, more essential way of living. That includes career planning and goal setting. This webinar will help you find success principles you can live by. 

Here’s how to collect testimonials

clapBarbara ‘s clients often will call her to tell her how good they feel after receiving acupuncture sessions. She records what they say, and asks permission to use their words in her marketing. Why is that a great way to collect testimonials? Because the comments are about them and how they benefit rather than being about her as a practitioner. Barb’s potential clients don’t care as much about her as they care about what she can do for them. They relate to the client experience. 

Client experiences convince way more than even rave reviews about a provider, or in my case, a seminar leader. 

Several months ago, an Executive Admin wanted information that would help her convince her CEO that by attending the Executive Admin Training Camp, she would be better able to support him. I asked a couple of former attendees to write up their experience with that in mind, and got the most powerful testimonial imaginable.  Here’s what she wrote.


“As you know, our duties do not ever end after the work day is through. My executive also had the same feelings of hesitancy for me to be out of the office and the “unavailability” of the conference being in another state. After much negotiation and compromise (and much to my surprise) he allowed me to reserve the ticket.

My CEO requested an action plan of items to implement that would benefit our department upon my return. After hearing from those in similar positions at the conference and using the material Meryl provided, together with my co-workers (who also attended the conference) we were able to come up with an action plan. Since the December 2011 conference, many things from the action plan have come to life. Communication and feedback with multiple executives have improved, and together we developed a partnership model. I have worked very hard to “Say what you mean, mean what you say and not be mean when you say it” (one of Meryl’s quotes I have posted on my computer screen), and I have also begun to “share what I know” with others. We also implemented a “pack rat” day once a quarter for the entire department, applying lean methodologies.

I have been to many conferences at which I learned nothing. This administrative conference is well worth the investment. If your CEO believes in personal growth and giving his employees opportunities for improvement, this is the conference to attend. I believe the tools and tips Meryl provided and the discussion with others in our position really provided me with the necessary “take-aways” to develop my career and make work a much happier place to be.”

Holly B.
Executive Assistant
Van Wert County Hospital

The power of this testimonial is that it’s not about me, it’s about Holly, and what she was able to do after returning. 

When you’re collecting testimonials, pick up on messages that weren’t ever intended to be testimonials. And when asking for testimonials, ask that they be about the client, customer, attendee etc. more than about you. You could even ask someone to write it an a “Dear Potential Client” format. Thanks, Holly. Your email was just what the Executive Admins’ CEO needed to approve the training. 

The Cascade Volunteer Fire Department

To experience Meryl Runion Rose’s Cascadian pictorial chronicle of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire from the beginning, click here

cascade volunteer fire department photo 600

They didn’t do it alone. Still, I honesty believe that without the skill, courage and hard work of these eight men and the seven other fire-fighters who didn’t make this picture, I would not be sitting in my home today.  

Donations to the Cascade Volunteer Fire Department are graciously accepted and can be made directly to CVFD, PO BOX 366, CASCADE, CO 80809. I asked how donations would be allocated. They told me, 

“All donations to the Cascade Volunteer Fire Department will be used to replenish supplies/equipment and add new capability. We desperately need a new type 6 pumper to replace our obsolete 1810 engine. All CVFD firefighters share this common goal. Contributions will help us achieve this goal sooner. As far as personal hardship; the honor of serving in this capacity exceeds any personal hardship.”

I remain in awe.