Are You a Busy Bee or Just Buzzing Around?

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My last morning ride of the autumn was on a classic Indian summer day.  It was sunny and comfortably warm.  The sky was azure blue.  I was grateful for the gift of another opportunity to saddle my horse in such accommodating weather.  After a while on the trails, I dropped the reins to allow my Dolce to go where he pleased to graze.  I respect my horse.  Our relationship is a partnership and after we ride a trail of my choosing, I like him to have time to choose his own forage and to just be a horse.

Busy Bees

This particular morning I noticed he was grazing on a weed sometimes called “Long-bristled Smartweed.”  It thrives each fall on his farm and he seeks it out each year.  Just as I was considering this, I noticed the many bees also enjoying the Long-bristled Smartweed.  There were dozens of them all within a one-foot radius of his head!  My first reaction was to move us along.  Horses have many nerve endings around their mouths and noses and I could only imagine that being stung there would be terribly painful for him – and dangerous for me if he bolted or reared.  But then, I realized that we’d been there for some time.  Those bees were not paying him any attention at all.  They were entirely engrossed in the nectar of the pink buds.  They had what to get done and they were doing it.  And the bees were silent.  There was no buzz at all from these very busy bees.  No buzzing and no stinging.  This got me thinking …

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I often hear people say, “I’m so busy!” You call or text or email and they first assert, “I’ve been so busy …”  You invite them and they say, “Sorry, busy.”  Busy, busy, bizzzzyyy.  My students almost all tell me repeatedly that they are “so busy.”  Then there are the people in my life who never use that word.  Here’s the interesting thing: they are the most committed, devoted and productive people I know.  When I call or text or write them they are attentive, present, focused, decisive and efficient.  They’re the ones with demanding careers, elaborate pursuits, families and time-consuming hobbies and avocations.  I don’t notice them multi-tasking, but they certainly have multiple roles in their lives.  Beside my close family members and friends, many of those who come to mind are the experts I represent at my speakers bureau.  I have such respect for them.  They are devoted spouses, parents and grandparents.  They run firms, write books, conduct elaborate research, attend professional conferences, give interviews and deliver speeches and travel the world in doing so – literally.  Their deadlines are hard deadlines.  They are genuinely “busy.”  But they don’t describe themselves that way.  They tend to focus on the matter at hand.  My favorite vignette comes from my speaker whom I texted, “Have 5 minutes for a chat?”  He texted back, “Yep.  10:00.  Cell.”  It was already 10:40 in the morning so I asked, “Tonight or 10:00 a.m.  tomorrow?”  His reply: “Tonight.  On midnight flight to Moscow.”  He’s busy.  That kind of rigor and efficiency are the norm for my speakers.

When I returned Dolce to his paddock that morning, there was a swarm of bees by the gate and I heard them before I saw them.   They were flying around and their collective buzz was audible – even loud.  They just didn’t seem to be doing anything – anything but buzzing, that is.  We avoided them.  This time, I felt we could be stung and late for where we needed to be next.  These were not “busy bees” but “buzzing” ones.

Lisa Bernard is now the President of SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that represents unbiased experts on national, cyber and global security matters or briefings, talks and distinguished lectures before audiences with an interest in keeping the level of discourse high.  See more at http://www.SecuritySpeak.net and http://www.Facebook.com/PodumTime.  She can be reached at (203) 293-4741 or via email at LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net

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I Love Lucy’s Feminism “In Deed” and Beyond Words

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Last week in my “Sell Me Something Workshop” I brought in American grand dame Lucille Ball in the TV, advertisement and comedic classic: VITAMEATAVEGAMIN.   We learned from what Lucy (McGuillicuddy Ricardo) did masterfully in her “sales pitch” and from what she bungled for “not knowing her product.”  This episode is so cherished that a gentleman walking down the corridor couldn’t help but come in and join us.  He was belly laughing, as was I.  Lucy’s authenticity – her gestures and her expressions – speaks right to your heart.  And, from the business, entertainment and media perspectives, Lucy’s impact on TV and comediennes thereafter is nothing short of stunning.  Take,  for example,  this Queens native’s favorite, The Nanny, brought to life by Fran Drescher.

But above all, I am thinking now about Lucy’s subtle and sophisticated contribution to us women in the workforce and in the business world more broadly.  In this episode are men’s inflammatory references to “the girl” and her husband Ricky’s sexist frowning on her career and her use of her maiden name professionally.  He even scolds her – publicly no less – for defying his wishes.  Yet, in the scenes – and behind them – is a woman who is undeterred and unflappable.  In velvet gloves, high heels and a pill-box hat was a trailblazer who produced, starred-in and made iconic a TV phenomenon – and brought along a crew of colleagues.  Both the character she played – and the woman she was – forged forward in professional life and as a wonderful wife, mother, friend, colleague and business partner.  She did it all.

As a younger woman, I missed the satire for the comedy.  Now, as a gal on the other side of life’s heavy lifting – childrearing and career- building – I am reminded that progress and feminism take many forms.   Now, I see the satire through the clarity of the rear view mirror.  Now, I have fallen in love with Lucy all over again – not blindly, but panoramically.

Lisa Bernard has prepared and represented people from all walks of life to speak publicly at meetings, on panels, in their places of worship and as keynoters. She herself has addressed audiences as large as 2000 and designed and delivered over 500 workshops, seminars and college-level courses on oral communication.  She has slowed down fast-talkers, turned “uhmers” into smooth-speakers and moderated accents from Brooklyn to Beijing – all to develop confident communicators.  Lisa has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and today manages Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that makes available experts on national, global and cyber-security for distinguished lectures worldwide.  You can reach her at (203) 293-4741 or LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net and like her firm at www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.

What a Recipe Name Reveals about Dignity and Fine Dining

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I am excited for this evening. It’s my barn’s holiday party and there’s much fun ahead –   from seeing my fellow equestrians trade-in their jeans and boots for holiday attire to enjoying ourselves by the fireplace as winter sets in and clips our time together on the trials.  Frankly, I am also looking forward to the fare.  A happy pescetarian, I pre-ordered the “scrod puttanesca.”  And when I did, the root of “puttanesca” jumped out at me as “puttana” in the vernacular Italian means “prostitute.”  Curious, I looked up the origins of the recipe to see if this is a coincidence or if there is a connection between prostitution and my meal tonight.  Turns out, there is.

Apparently, “puttanesca sauce” was developed by Italian prostitutes who wanted a fast-cooking and spicy gravy to complement the mild-flavored fish they prepared and ate in the little time they had between clients.  I love this.  I have always attributed my zest for fine food and commitment to eating well to the Mediterranean dimension of my heritage.  My Italian relatives respected meals and celebrated food as do I and as do my daughters.  However busy we are, we make time to prepare our food.  Three meals a day – each made with fresh ingredients.  I even laugh at myself as I write this and reflect on my breakfast today.  As the sun was rising and the coffee brewing, I was chopping Vidalia onions and roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella for my omelette.  Eggs, a dash of grated Locatelli cheese, fresh-cracked pepper, some ribboned basil and there I have it – today or any other day of the work week.  And as I flipped it onto to my dish, I smiled nostalgically thinking of my late grandfather, Phillip, who never, ever ate on paper or plastic.  In my grandparents’ home, meals were plated – period.  That’s the dignity in dining that makes you a life – whatever you do for a living.

Lisa Bernard has prepared and represented people from all walks of life to speak publicly at meetings, on panels, in their places of worship and as keynoters. She herself has addressed audiences as large as 2000 and designed and delivered over 500 workshops, seminars and college-level courses on oral communication.  She has slowed down fast-talkers, turned “uhmers” into smooth-speakers and moderated accents from Brooklyn to Beijing – all to develop confident communicators.  Lisa has a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and today manages Lisa Bernard’s SecuritySpeak, LLC, a consulting firm that makes available experts on national, global and cyber-security for distinguished lectures worldwide.  You can reach her at (203) 293-4741 or LisaBernard@SecuritySpeak.net and like her firm at www.Facebook.com/PodiumTime.