Keynote: The Lean Leadership Challenge

While celebrity leadership isn’t considered the road to success anymore, for Lean leaders, it never was.

Celebrities take the limelight. Lean leaders are Leader fielding questionshumble by definition.

Celebrities hang out with the elite. Lean leaders are on the floor directly observing day-to-day processes.

Celebrities live in bubbles that protect them from critical feedback. Lean leaders keep nothing between themselves and the truth – including their own egos.

What is the Lean Leadership Challenge?

Lean leaders establish unity of organizational purpose and direction. They also create and maintain an internal environment where people become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives. The Lean leadership challenge is also a challenge of communication excellence.

Communicating Excellence

Lean communication is highly aspiratory. Lean leaders strive to perfect their own communication as they inspire their employees to strive to perfect their processes. Lean leaders are strongest when they:

  • model the way
  • inspire a shared vision
  • challenge the process
  • enable others to act
  • create ways for people to shine

This keynote presentation defines the Lean Leadership Challenge in communication terms, and guides Lean Leaders to embrace Lean Leadership in it’s most comprehensive sense.

Key benefits:

  • Get a practical understanding of what effective lean leadership is
  • Recognize the obstacles to effective lean leadership
  • Know the difference between lean leadership, traditional leadership and management
  • Gain some simple tools to establish trust and eliminate fear
  • Understand and address obstacles to employee engagement to get people to show up and care


If you are facing a Lean Leadership Challenge, contact me, Meryl, about this dynamic presentation. 

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Conference Communication Keynote Sandwich

Phrases and tips to get the most out of your convention or event experience

Conference attendees face two communication challenges – how to productively interact with other participants and how to talk about the event experience and communicate changes based on their learning when they return to their offices. Meryl Runion helps event attendees face both challenges.tusconphoto2

Let Meryl open your next conference or event with

  • tips and techniques for effective icebreaking
  • purposeful networking
  • general conference communication wisdom

 Then, let her close your event with

  • a communication summary
  • recommendations of how to effectively talk about new ideas and practices when attendees return from the conference

Meryl will attend the conference events with an ear for highlights that people want to bring home. Her closing will provide examples from the event itself to help people formulate ways to discuss conference material when they return.

Key takeaways from this session pair are:

  • How to initiate “small talk” in a way that leads quickly to productive communication
  • Four things to listen for throughout the conference that will help you address confusion and resistance when you return
  • Why knowing how to talk about what you gained from the conference is as important as what you gained
  • Seven ways to show instead of simply tell people about the conference

Get a conference communication sandwich for your next event. Start your attendees right, with the communcation tools to get the most out of the event. Conclude your event right with the tools to talk about it afterwards. 

“I can’t imagine having an event without this!” – AT

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Just for Admins

Executive admins, office pros and support professionals have unique communication needs
  1. Are you bigger than people can see?
  2. Is your vision invisible?
  3. Are you constantly putting out fires instead of focusing on bigger priorities?
  4. Do your days seem mechanical?
  5. Does Execuphobia undermine your  effectiveness?
  6. Do the tasks no one else wants fall to you?
  7. Do you have responsibility without authority?
  8. Does multi-tasking leave you fragmented? 
  9. Is there never time to do it right the first time (but always time to do it over)?
  10. Do you update your boss on the run?

Here are some seriously useful phrases crafted just for you!

Want more?

Resources Special:
Books and an audio presentation packed with phrases that make your job doable

Everyone knows admins run everything.
Are you constantly running out of time?
Is your best seemingly not always good enough?

Administrative pros need exceptional communication skills

Especially for Admins – Order the Quick Start Communication Package with the coupon code ADMIN

QuickStartPackageJust for Admin 2

Receive a 10% discount PLUS Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals (book) and The 3 Sources of POWER for Admins and Office Pros  –  FREE 

Price: $45.00  $40.50 plus you get 
Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals (book) (more info here) and 
The 3 Sources of POWER for Office Pros and Admins audio  (more info here)      FREE

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$40.50 Use Coupon Code ADMIN
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SpeakStrong Method Training and Workshops

Training that transforms the way you, your department, team or organization relates, influences and succeeds

communication trainingSpeakStrong Method training and workshops provide you, your entire department, team or organization with a deep experience of authentic, collaborative communication.

All training events start with an introduction to The SpeakStrong Method. They include a shared vision exercise to inspire a shared vision of communication excellence.That shared vision power guides the team as they create agreements, explore techniques and devlelop communication kata (practices) in alignment with the team’s main focus – from administrative excellence to leadership to generational accord.

The training is fun, practical and individualized to particular group challenges and interests. 

Training topics include:

training for administrative assistantsThe SpeakStrong Method for Getting Results When You’re Not in Charge

Get it done – whether you have authority or not
≈ Recommended for Administrative Assistants, Executive Assistants, support staff.

The Speakstrong Method For Continuous Improvement With Lean

Phrases, formulas and kata for continuous improvement
≈ Recommended for leaders, managers, operators, supervisors and employees with an interest in lean and continuous improvement

The Speakstrong Method For Intergenerational Communication

Walk in my generation’s shoes
≈ Recommended for intergenerational groups across every level of the organization. 

The Speakstrong Method For Dynamic Leadership Development

How to draw out the leadership potential in others
≈ Recommended for HR, mentors, leaders, emerging leaders and anyone who wants to develop the leadership potential of others


Use the menu or click next for topics

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Training: The SpeakStrong Method for Getting Results When You’re Not in Charge

Get it done – whether you’re “in charge” or not

Training for administrative assistants, support staff, and office professionals to empower leadership and enhance effectiveness at every organizational level


Ever wonder who is really in charge? It’s a myth that only people with formal authority have power. With adaptive toolscollaborative skills and targeted processes, people who lack formal power have the influence they need to make things happen. In fact, administrative assistants, support staff, office professionals – people who need to get results without the authority to wield power – actually have the advantage in today’s workplace – with the right tools. And that’s good for productivity and performance, teamwork, and the bottom line.


Because power structures are breaking down in businesses everywhere. As cross-functional teams become more widespread, influence practices are more critical than ever.

Who has been using influence instead of power historically? Who knows better how to get results without power than those who have relied on collaboration, shared favors and professional competence to get results all along?

Today, employees at every level are taking the lead in their areas of influence whether they have “leader” or “manager” in their title or not. This training develops the skills that the most effective assistants, most savvy support staff and most competent office pros use to get people to respect their authority with little or no disagreement. Can you imagine the value in this? 

This training begins with an introduction to The SpeakStrong Method for admins, support staff, office pros, and other professionals who need to get things done when they are not in charge. It then focuses on specific challenges support professionals face every day. It introduces lean office principles and practices (Toyota Production System) for efficient systems, and provides the management communication tools to get support needed to get things done when you’re not in charge. 

Key takeaways from this session are:

  • How to cut to the core of every conversation to get the information and understanding you need – fast
  • How to facilitate collaboration
  • How to empower others to assume more responsibility to do their jobs at the highest level
  • The words to use to take charge without sounding like you’re trying to take over
  • How to describe your job or responsibilities in ways that earn respect and influence
  • The three sources of power and influence office pros often overlook

The methods include how to:

  • Set goals and objectives for administrative assistants that enhance productivity
  • Develop a clear personal vision statement for a foundation for effective action
  • Align personal desires and a personal vision statement with organizational mission
  • Develop a shared understanding of change steps and desired outcome
  • Know the difference between cooperation and collaboration and inspire collaboration without compromise

This training provides practical, actionable management communication tools and effective communication skills every professional needs to get things done. 

One or two-day seminar.  Contact me for more information.

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Keynote: Kata Talk: The Chutes and Ladders of Continuous Improvement

Building KQ – your ability to improve through deliberate practice

Meryl Runion and Mike Rother join forces for a dynamic keynote or breakout you will remember and talk about.

Mike Rother Toyota Kata

You’ve known about IQ – Intelligence Quotients – from grade school. You learned about EQ – Emotional Intelligence – in the 90s.

But how about KQ – Kata Quotients?

Do you even know you have one, let alone how high it is? Welcome to the next level of continuous improvement.

Presented by communication author and researcher Meryl Runion and Toyota Kata researcher and author Mike Rother, this session was the hit of the Lean conference NEShingoPrize.

Why? Because in its lighthearted and entertaining way, it walks you through

  • the kinds of conversations and phrases that can inspire brilliant insights
  • the kinds that can suppress them

And you thought emotional intelligence in business was cutting edge!

Yes, emotional intelligence in effective communication makes significant difference. But that’s not the real secret of Toyota and employee empowerment.

Your KQ – Kata Quotient – takes your improvement efforts to the next level

This keynote or breakout session combines Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata and Meryl Runion’s SpeakStrong Method to give deep understanding of the unseen mechanism behind Toyota’s improvement successes – of Toyota and employee empowerment. Learn how to empower others: what to say and what not to say to develop your own and other’s ability to learn through practice.

Plus, you’ll get insight into your personal KQ when you navigate the Chutes and Ladders of Continuous Improvement. This session both tests and enhances your ability to navigate the chutes and ladders of continuous improvement. 

You’ll learn how to stay in the “kata corridor” to reach new levels of excellence. 

You’ll have choices at every step of this journey

Will your response lead you to climb the Ladder of Learning toward your next target condition? Or will you slide down the Chute of Conjecture toward terminal mediocrity? Will the pull be with you, moving you up the path? Or will force foil you and send you sliding? How does high KQ turn even the worst slide into a learning opportunity to guide the next step?

Get the on-the-ground guidance you want and need to practice continuous improvement Toyota Kata and SpeakStrong style.

Key takeaways from this session include:

  • What the adaptive thinking underlying Toyota Kata is
  • How to know if you’re inside or outside the kata corridor
  • How to develop inquiry skills
  • What phrases move the Toyota Kata discovery process forward and what phrases inhibit it


By the way, Dwight Bowen of GBMP said it was probably the best session he had ever attended.

Could your next event use an infusion of deep learning that’s fun? Contact Meryl about KataTalk. 

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SpeakStrong Method Quick Start Intensive

A nine-step, five-week partnership approach to starting your SpeakStrong Method practice

StartThis five-week skill and knowledge development program walks you through the 9-step process of The SpeakStrong Method in partnership with me, Meryl Runion. Together we’ll define your communication aspirations, assess your current skills and practice communication kata to build your communication strengths and moderate your communication challenges in the workplace.


Step1: Free introductory presentation: get a picture of the possibilities and the benefits of the practice

Step 2: Free preparatory presentation: an understanding of the mechanics of the practice

Step 3: Personal interview: A conversation with me, Meryl, to see if The SpeakStrong Method is for you.

Step 4: Practice immersion: A deep experience of the foundational SpeakStrong Method practice

Steps 5-9: Follow-up sessions with Meryl

The intensive includes:

  • private phone collaborations with me
  • email support
  • communication style and leadership assessments
  • a mutually generated report of findings
  • mutually generated and revised communication action plans 
  • The Quick Start Communication Transformation Book Package.

The follow-up phone collaborations will integrate a learning agenda with addressing your specific challenges of business communication. In addition, they will offer opportunities for real-time communication feedback, checking in on our communication with each other to optimize our dynamic for maximum learning and results.

The SpeakStrong Method Quick Start Intensive will empower your essential expression. Cost: $500


Option #2:

Same as above, with the added benefit of a weekly webinar with up to six other intensive practitioners. These webinars will facilitate group learning and group practice. Total cost: $600

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SpeakStrong Method Private Intensive

Seven private sessions in The SpeakStrong Method practice


I don’t do crisis communication coaching. Instead, I teach a communication improvement method. In this seven session intensive, you’ll learn principles and practices of The SpeakStrong Method, and I’ll support you as you practice what you learn with me in real time and in your own life.


Part 1: Free introductory interview. We’ll get to know each other and set our aspirations. We will start the practice from the first minute of our conversation.

Part 2: Practice immersion: six sessions of a half hour each with assignments and unlimited email support.

Part 3: Follow-up sessions with me are available.

Our phone collaborations will integrate a learning agenda with addressing your specific communication challenges. In addition, they will offer opportunities for 360 real-time communication feedback.

To schedule your introduction, email me:


Or call:

  • 719-684-2633

 You can now save $300 on this $500 deal by using the coupon code ISpeakStrong.

buy now

If you like what you experience in our introductory session but aren’t ready to commit to a series,
individual sessions with me are available for only $40 per half hour.

buy now

Learn more about The SpeakStrong Method in this SlideShare.

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Keynote: Some Boats Need to be Rocked

productive conversations that rock the boat

Productive conversations about things that matter

Playing it safe is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some boats need to be rocked – and if you go through life never making waves, you’ll live short of your potential.

If your office or organization has a culture of impervious compliance instead of inventive collaboration, you will operate in terminal mediocrity. That’s a colorful way of saying communicate, collaborate,  or die.

It might be a quick demise or a slow painful passing – but either way, a single productive conversation could pave the way to a more promising future. A series of productive conversations is even more likely to keep you moving forward toward new levels of excellence. 

Research is fascinating on this subject. If just one person offers an alternative view to “consensus reality” it frees others from “group-think” and results in overall increased authenticity and idea generation. And the research confirms that dissenting views don’t even need to be credible to get people started communicating more openly.

There is nothing safe about playing it safe

Some Boats Need to Be Rocked is about the fine art of productive boat-rocking.

  • Discover the three main clues that tell you it’s time to rock the boat
  • Embrace the three stories you need to align before you open your mouth. 
  • Learn how to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it, and to inspire others to speak their truths as well. 
  • Find out how dynamic life becomes as a result of skilled and creative boat-rocking.

Key takeaways from this session are:

  • The high cost of silence when something needs to be said
  • How to rock the boat without coming across as confrontational
  • How rocking the boat can increase job satisfaction and success
  • Why there is nothing safe about playing it safe

Some boats really do need to be rocked.

Interested in rocking the boat?  Contact me, Meryl, for information about how to get involved with this great keynote.

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Keynote: The Proficiency Memo

Communicating competence to win respect and get results 

An effective administrative assistantIf you’re looking for a dynamic, empowering keynote for administrative assistants, The Proficiency Memo is for you and your event. This lively administrative assistant keynote inspires executive assistants, support staff and other office professionals to reach their highest level of excellence. 

Speak as empowered as you really are…from now on

Do you remember the last time someone spoke to you dismissively?

Remember how that felt?

Where did they get the idea that they could talk to you that way?

The answer might surprise you. Many administrative professionals, executive assistants and office support staff unintentionally send  “memos” loaded with signals that say, “I’m a second-rate professional in a second-rate career.”

That stops now. You know how good you are. Do others? They will, after you attend this lively keynote about how to send a “Proficiency Memo” with every communication – verbal, non-verbal or written.

Every word you speak sends a memo of one sort or another. What do your words say about you, your competence and professionalism? Do they portray you as a serious player? Or do they say you’re a lightweight?

What is professional competence for administrative pros? What about communicative competence? How has the definition of competence changed in recent years? Discover the current trends in business communication

Accelerate your career with influence

Today more than ever before, employees at every level need to take the lead in their areas of influence whether they have “leader” or “manager” in their title or not. Sound impossible? It’s not.

Learn how the most effective assistants, most savvy nurses and most competent support staffers get people to respect their authority with little or no disagreement.

Learn how to cut to the core of every conversation to get the information and understanding you need – fast.

Discover the words to use to take charge without sounding like you’re trying to take over.

You get what you tolerate – so teach people how to treat you

How do you relate to those who don’t understand that you and your profession are bigger than they recognize? You respond with a Proficiency Memo that taps into the 3 sources of power to communicate competence. Discover how savvy professionals refer to their jobs and their responsibilities in ways that make it clear they are there by design, not default.

Get the Ultimate Communication Formula that will guide every word you speak from the moment you start work until you head back home at the end of the day. This presentation is based on The SpeakStrong Method of Collaborative Communication.

Key takeaways from this administrative assistant keynote include:

  • Business communciation trends that change the way you relate, influence and succeed
  • How to describe your job or responsibilities in ways that earn respect and influence
  • The three sources of power you’re probably overlooking
  • How to send a “proficiency memo” that says, “I’m a professional and deserve respect.”


Everything you say sends a message about your competence. Make sure your words send a Proficiency Memo.  Contact me, Meryl, if you are interested in learning more about this beneficial keynote.

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