Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #34- Managing First Impressions

“People sometimes talk about the power of first impressions, and believe me, there is truth to it.”  -Ann Brashares, My Name is Memory

Before I do a dive into the matter of first impressions, I want you to picture yourself at the airport, in line at the boarding gate as they call the sections to board… 

You luck out, though not in first class for this trip, you’re in the first group called to board.  Sweeet! 

You get walk toward the ticket agent, he scans your phone with your boarding pass, you head on over to the walkway to board the plane.  You walk past the folks already seated in first class, find your seat, put your carry-on into the overhead compartment, then get comfy in your seat. 

Then you notice the other groups boarding…of course.  As each person passes you by you hope and pray they’re not seated next to you….c’mon, we all do it, especially when we see the “too happy to be on this plane” person, the parent with the two wailing toddlers, the guy talking really loudly on his phone because we all need to know how important he is.  We take just a few seconds to take in a first impression of complete strangers and even go to the extent of hoping, or not hoping that they are seated next to us….even on a quick flight from Boston to New York, New York to DC, or any other short distance.  What’s my point? 

First impressions are absolutely significant. 

I’ll admit, there are times that they just don’t matter as much…I’m watching my neighbor walk out in his pajamas (no lie) in our New England 21 degree wether with flip-flops on.  Quite frankly, I think the President could walk up to him right now and he just wouldn’t care what impression he was making…he’s just trying to put out the trash.  But when it comes to the fabulously fierce and our focus on proactive personal branding, even when it doesn’t matter, it just matters that you’re owning the impressions you make.

By now, you know I’ve got some tips and tricks around all of this.  So, let’s go! 

To me, the process of managing first impressions requires that we:

  1.  Define what is we want others to pick up about us upon immediate interaction or even just simple observation. According to Forbes, researchers from NYU found that we make eleven major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting. That’s it folks-seven seconds to make an impression of good, bad, or indifferent.  So the first thing we have to do is decide what it is that we want others to “see”.  Is it confidence, genuineness, beauty, intellect, creativity, authenticity, warmth, a killer smile?  Base your decision on what is most true to your core, who you are, who you see when you look in the mirror.                      
  2. Align our presence with our targeted impression.  If it’s confidence we want folks to see, we don’t dare walk into any room with our head hanginglow, not looking people in the eye, and lacking assurance in our voice.If it’s authenticity, just be you, don’t put on airs or operate in mimicryof someone or something else.  We have to focus not only on the practice of “showing up” but on understanding the “feel” of our presence.  Does our confidence, genuineness, intellect, beauty truly rub off on others?  Can they perceive it?                                                                                                                                                                                                
  3. Identify some things that will reinforce our targeted impression. For instance, if it’s intellect, the impact of a dapper pair of glasses goes a long way.  Creative? Why not wear some funky jewelry, especially if you made it!!! Some thing things are hard to impress, totally get it but you can get some reinforcements that serve as “commercials” that get others to ask for more, then giving you the opportunity to convey your impression.  Here’s an example:  One of the characteristics that I really want to convey is the characteristic of genuineness.  Now besides a smile, that can be something difficult to convey, but I also looooooooooove traveling and love items from faraway lands that serve as conversation starters.  So, when someone is compliments a scarf or my bangles from India, a ring I got in Italy, or something of the sort, I genuinely thank them and if I’m allowed, share a bit about my experience that let’s others know that that’s just part of who I am.                                                                                                            
  4. Prepare our power introduction.  If we make it past the seven seconds, we will have the opportunity to introduce ourselves and maintain our power in this by preparing how we want to introduce ourselves.  Of course this will be tailored for every interaction.  For instance, I’ve had to learn that when I introduce myself, I should just share my first name because for some reason, saying Farah Bernier sometimes confuses folks. More often than not, I see the look of “wait, did you say Sarah? And what’s your last name…burn-ya-ear, burned-ear, burn-i-yay.”  Yeah, so I focus more on getting folks to just get Farah especially since nine times out of ten I get, oh nice to meet you Sarah.  This way, I don’t create any more confusion in the first impression stage, I just focus in getting them to know my first name because one might meet a number of ‘Sarahs’ over time, but the few ‘Farahs’ you meet, you will always remember (yes, I know I’m going to hear about this from all the ‘Sarahs’ in my life…I love you…hehehe). I am really laboring this point because preparing your introduction is really powerful.  This is why we spend a good deal of quality time on it in my workshops.  So, if nothing else, please take time on this one. 

Finally, in managing your own first impressions, I also encourage you to manage your first assumptions of others.  Seven seconds can be really powerful or really detrimental for the impressionist and the person observing the impression.  Sometimes, we can miss opportunity to connect with other fabulously fierce because we don’t get to second eight or stop at second three because we’ve already made some assumptions.  Now, we all donor, remember the plane example I share…we’re human. “Let’s just give each other a bit of a break and more of a chance as we all grow in managing our first impressions.

Soundtrack of the week: An oldie but goodie, En Vogue’s Time Goes On

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #33-Dreaming with Actionable Intention

As we prepare to celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  I’m really even more inspired to encourage us all to focus on our dreams, goals, and aspirations. Taking a step back though, I would like to highlight what I think has become a missed opportunity, Dr. King Day.

 What I have observed is that for many of us, this just becomes another day off from school, work, and a history lesson on one of the most impactful historical leaders of our time.  Now don’t get me wrong, the reminder of who he was and his legacy is absolutely important.  But when I pause and ponder, what would he say about our efforts?  How would he react to all that is going on in the world today?  And on an individual basis, how are we leveraging his leadership, modeling, and example in our own lives?  I think this last question is where we, the LFF community are really called to action.  We must focus beyond the dream-what we want for the world, for our piece of the world, for ourselves and those around us-and dream with actionable intention. 

What does this mean?  Of course I’m going to tell you.  Dreaming with actionable intention means giving yourself permission and time to daydream about what you want, what you hope for and all that you aspire to.  In our ‘move this way and that way and now this way again’ and do everything ten times faster world, we can lose sight out of dreams and get lost in our day-to-day.  What’s critical though is taking action on our dreams. 

No matter what your aspirations are, you’re never going to be able to make any progress toward them if your intention rests in the escape that just dreaming offers.  In my dreams I am everything from an Alvin Ailey dancer to a successful executive, coach, and entrepreneur. 


Image  Image

When I hear a beautiful song, I can see the stage, my toe shoes, my flowing dress and perfect points.  That’s my mental escape and I love it!  Now I will get back to dancing at some point (I already have the details of a few adult corps and lessons) but when I dream with actionable intention, I focus on Living Fabulously Fierce, being successful in my “9-to-5” gig and developing skills that will position me as a highly sought after coach.  I take steps to accomplishing these dreams from looking the part to staying in the game and playing it fiercely, positioning myself as a true contender.

The most critical aspect of all of this that we must keep in mind is that dreaming with actionable intention has a great deal to do with legacy-leaving your mark so that the world is no longer the same as it was before you came along.  This was the impact of Dr. King.  He didn’t just dream…

                                 he dreamt with actionable intention…

                                                         and his intention was legacy-focused…

and during this time, we celebrate the mark he, with the help of many others, made so that you and I live in a much better world than many of those during his time may never have even imagined. 




Now, what if he had just sat back in his daydreaming, using it just as a mental escape and moved along in his day-to-day?  Shudder the though, huh?  And so, today I ask, what is your dream?  How are you dreaming intentionally?  What legacy, mark, are you focused on leaving?


Soundtrack of the week: For some inspiration and because I love Miri Ben-Ari, enjoy the Symphony of Brotherhood

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #32-Daring Greatly

Sooooo, needless to say, I’m still on a high from my recent trip to Rome.  I’m still trying to savor the flavor of the experience-the calm, the peacefulness, the intentional proactive appreciation of fabulous moments.  So while I’m cautious not to over do it on my Rome High or push the fabulous city down everyone’s throat, there is so much I really want to share.  This week, it’s all
about daring greatly.

Right before I left for my trip, I watched an interview with Dr. Brene Brown again in which she shared the following quote by Theodore Roosevelt.  

ImageWhile the quote itself is pretty powerful, what she said after as she reflected on the former President’s words was really what resonated with me most…

“Essentially, if you’re not in the arena getting your butt beat, if you’re
just a spectator, I’m just not interested in your feedback.”

See, last post, we connected on being brave and focused on what that requires us to do.  I think the next level of reinforcing your personal brand is the level of daring greatly.  This is actually the title of  Brown’s book.


As it relates to Living Fabulously Fierce and the process of personal branding, daringly greatly is all about reinforcing your self-confidence, esteem, and accepting the authority and power behind your personal brand by:

1-Eliminating the power of others’ voices.  During the self-discovery process of personal branding, I always stress the importance of getting others’ feedback and perspective on you and how you “show up”.  This is always about constructive, useful feedback.  But then, we all have to manage the voices of our critics.  This is why during the self-definition phase we all have the option of eliminating some feedback, especially that of the critics.

When it comes to daring greatly, standing in our respective arenas-as working mom, training athlete, aspiring actress, writer, blogger, model, corporate executive, determined entrepreneur-whatever the arena is, we have to know how to eliminate the voices of those who will never stand where we do, choosing never to stand where we do, instead, opting for the comfortable seat of the spectator.

2-Committing to stay in the arena, not quit. It is often so much easier to get out of the arena.  At this point, we’re twelve days into the
new year and for those of us who have made resolutions, right about now is where we’re ready to just turn around and walk out of the game, quit the gym, forget eating right, let go of our plan to stop shopping, give up on taking 15 minutes for ourselves every day, for my fellow NDCers, break our fast…yes, we essentially just want out of our arena.  Sidenote on all of this….there’s no value in any guilt for all of this so let go of that and appreciate the face that we’re just human.  This will happen.  We get tired, we experience frustration, we even experience temptation.  So just accept the natural tendency we have to want to quit.  It happens.  The fabulous thing though is that we’re so much more than our nature allows of us.  We have the power to override our natural desires and really go for what we want in the face of the challenges that come our way.  The first step of honing into this, though, is not allowing ourselves to give into our weaknesses. Simply put, one who dares greatly, at a minimum, commits to Staying. In. The. Arena. Stay in the game!

3-Focusing on endurance, perseverance and excellence instead of the “quick win”.
We are definitely living in a microwave-minded world–put something in, stand around for a few minutes, wait for the beep, and you’ve got what you wanted!  As a result, we now expect quick gains…wins…in all areas of our lives, even as we face the challenges of the arena.  What we need to do is focus on the skill of endurance…staying in the game for the long haul; persevering, focusing on a level of excellence that can only yield a win.

All of this to me is daring greatly because it’s all about intention and standing as a warrior, standing determined to be a conqueror, standing as a winner, standing fabulously, standing fierce.  Daring greatly to live fabulously fierce!

So here I stand…

ImageI’m standing on the outskirts of the arena, getting a better understanding of what it’s going to take to win, taking in what the view looks like, appreciating what I have to look forward to.  Won’t you join me? 

Soundtrack of the Week: Absolutely Old School but it just sounds like some good “amp me up” music, MC Lyte’s Lyte As a Rock

Living Fabulously Fierce Factor #31-Being Brave

Happy New Year!!! 2014!!!  Still taking it in!  So much has happened and been experienced for me this year already that I’m looking forward to so much more!

I am not the resolution-making kinda gal, but I am all about setting expectations of what is to come and proactively understanding the role I am to play in all of that.  That being said, I’VE GOT SOME SERIOUS EXPECTIONS FOR 2014!!!  No, this isn’t due to the standard hype around New Year’s and what it brings and all of that.  I do appreciate this because it just adds to the zeitgeist of the season (love that word…don’t get to use it often), but my personal hype around it all is really based on my mindset on the principle of sowing and reaping.

See, some of you have been with me on this LFF journey from the beginning, many have jumped on board as more and more word spread (got a note from Switzerland last week!), and some of you just joined this past week.  This reflects that I’ve had a pretty good season of sowing-investing time, energy, funds, hopes, dreams, and aspirations into all of this and what it stands for, and my life in general.  Now, it’s time for the reaping…and just the beginning of it.  I really am excited beyond belief!

Just a heads up, we are about to get little spiritual here, so just get ready….and if you’re over it, just hang on just a bit longer…I promise I won’t disappoint.  For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you know that there were recently a few days before heading to take over Rome that I just kept waking up super early with no explanation whatsoever.  There wasn’t anything that I was anxious about, anything I was worrying over, and while I was excited about my upcoming trip to Italy, in that moment, I was just happy to have a few extra vacation days to catch up on sleep.  Yet, so it went…

     Day 1, December 21, woke up at 3:33a.m…..

     Day 2, December 22, woke up at 3:48a.m….

     Day 3, December 23, woke up at 4:28a.m….

Surprisingly, though my sleep was interrupted, I actually loved the stillness and peacefulness that that hour of the morning brings.  It was as if I was the only person on the planet at that time.  My friend, Karen, saw my post and reminded me to just “Listen to what He wants you to do.”  Totally understood it but wasn’t sure what I would get.  Then, that last morning, Day 3, I finally heard The Lord speak:

“I have so much in store for you.”

To this, I had to ask, “How do I seize it all?”  The simplicity of His response totally struck me:

“Just believe.”

For the first time, I realized that to really believe in the expectations that I have, I’ve got to raise my game and go beyond being fearless and actually be brave. 

There is no doubt that I value being fearless and appreciate the fact that it doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid, it just means that you live and carry on in the face of your own fears.  Bravery however, this shows up in the actions tied to your fearlessness.  Being brave requires positioning your fearlessness to show up, not just letting it be a resident characteristic.  To me, a fabulously fierce level of bravery entails:

1-Living as if you must make daily progress toward fulfilling your dreams and seizing the expectations of your life.  Sometimes, some of us are more afraid of success than we are of failure because success requires us to make some bold moves, steps of bravery, in the direction of success.  What if we just lived every day, taking leaps towards our success instead?

2-Speaking life into your expectations. Sometimes we’re even afraid to speak what we believe because we want to reserve a little bit of what I’ve learned is just false humility just in case we’re being disappointed.  I recently did a workshop for women identified as high potential professionals, basically ‘up and comers’, as identified by their leaders.  When I asked them to note what makes them unique and their professional goals within the company in terms of what levels they wanted to reach, they admitted that they didn’t actually want to say it or even write it down because “what if it doesn’t happen?” These are the most fabulous of the fabulous and even they had hesitations.  We must be brave and speak our expectations of life because here’s the other side of the coin, “what if it all does happen?”  How incredible would that be…on soooooo many levels?”

3-Seize every opportunity to make progress.  Michael Jordon is my all time favorite athlete!  He was just unstoppable and he just always got it done.  I mean he even played a game with the flu…..and WON!  I’m not recommending going out there and putting your health at risk, or anyone else’s for that matter, but I am saying sometimes, even though opportunities may seem tough, even downright scary, you have to be brave, remember what you want, and seize these opportunities, no matter the short-term conditions!  See, you always get second chances, I really do believe that because we’re human and God knows what He’s doing, He knows when we’re not going to seize opportunities to make progress so He’s already lined up another opportunity to do so.  So nothing is really lost….except for time…and the progress that would’ve been.  Save both through seizing!

This is my wish for your 2014…and beyond, that you would be brave, living each day focused on making progress toward your dreams and experiencing expectations fulfilled by speaking life into them and seizing every opportunity to make this progress.  I know there are actually a few things I’ve got in my heart to be accomplished and blessed with this year.  I’ve got to be brave, more than ever before.  I want to see you be brave! Let’s do it together!

Soundtrack of the week: Sara Bareilles: Brave