Lucy Frost

The Jedi Mind Trick for Holiday Gatherings

Posted by | Coaching | No Comments


Someone recently told us that practicing the “Partner*” behaviors we teach sometimes feels like using a Jedi mind trick. Our experience supports that. Like Jedi mind tricks, Partner behaviors are subtle, but extremely powerful.

Did you know the Partner approach can even help diffuse family feuds?

We’ve all been there. You’re at a family get together, or a social gathering. Someone — let’s say it’s Uncle Joe — launches into a diatribe on an issue about which you feel passionately — and you completely disagree with his opinion. Uncle Joe’s states “facts” that you know to be wrong! He may even be baiting you to stir up trouble. (He’s been know to do that in the past.)

Are your choices to either 1) disagree and lock horns (what we would call “going Predator”) or 2) bite your tongue and silently seethe (eg. “go Prey”)?

Fortunately, there is another choice. If you’re familiar with our work, you know I’m talking about the “Partner” style and mind set.

Here’s what to do to keep your cool and diffuse the tension:

First, adjust your external behaviors. That will support your inner mindset and attitude:

  • Breathe
  • Keep your body still.
  • Adopt a neutral stance or, if sitting, sit so you can feel your back against the back of your chair (it’s hard to fight from the back of a chair!), in an open sitting posture.
  • Soften your facial expression. (A smile of any size will do that immediately.)

Now, mentally shift your attitude.

  • You’re oblivious that a challenge is taking place.
  • You see this as a test.

When you’re ready to speak: 

  • Use a neutral tone.
  • Keep your volume strong.
  • Use large, firm gestures.
  • Use group eye contact — look at each person in the group, not just Uncle Joe.

Say something like:

  • “I can appreciate your perspective, Uncle Joe. You can probably imagine I see it a little differently.  Let’s leave it to Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton!”  

And if you’re really a Jedi, as you finish speaking, you look at someone other than Uncle Joe!

Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time you try it. It takes practice. And it can take 3 to 5 interactions with someone who knows you to shift their perception of you.


FINAL TIP: If all else fails, take a cue from NBC’s Saturday Night Live and put on the new Adele song!

Cheers & Happy Holidays!

* Predator, Prey, and Partner(TM) are 3 different roles that come into play in any power dynamic of human interaction.

Pat Kirkland is the CEO of Pat Kirkland Leadership, an executive coaching firm working with F500 companies. Her forthcoming book on using her Predator/Prey/Partner™ model to crack the code of executive presence will be published in 2016. Join her email list here to be notified when the book is released.


7 Tips for Your Upcoming Presentation

Posted by | Coaching | No Comments


Just as the most accomplished athletes continue to work on fundamentals, even the most seasoned executives refresh themselves on the basics when they have an important presentation coming up.

Here are our 7 best tips and reminders for creating and delivering a bang-up presentation:

      1. Choose your energy. Don’t let nerves cause you to lose yourself. ACTION: Show up as if you are in a great mood!
      2. Under pressure, people tend to go more formal. Being more informal makes you look more confident. ACTION: Use casual, relaxed movements, postures, and language.
      3. Simplify your message.  ACTION: Focus on no more than 3 key ideas.
      4. Know what the bottom line is for your presentation. What do they really want to know from you? ACTION: Be able to say it in less than 10 words….seriously, less than 10 words!
      5. Chunk your information – think bullet points, not paragraphs.  ACTION: Ruthlessly edit details. Check your desire to be thorough.  Speak in sound bites, not sentences.
      6. Analogies, stories or examples to spark your audience’s attention – make it natural, not contrived. Example: “As I’m walking up to the front of the room, my biggest concern is falling off these heels. (Pause) Safety is what we’re talking about today.” ACTION:  Practice with a friendly listener so your opening  comes across as natural, not contrived.
      7. Organize your content around your 3 key ideas.  ACTION: Get help organizing content. Refer to Kevin Carroll’s ‘diamond format,” outlined in his book Make Your Point.



The diamond format from Kevin Carroll’s book “Make Your Point” is a great way to organize your content.

I’ll cover this topic and others about Executive Presence in my forthcoming book. If you’d like to be notified when it’s available, sign up on our email list!  You’ll get our downloadable mini manual right away as a thank you.





“Alpha Partner” Example: Jennifer Granholm

Posted by | Coaching, Strong Smart Women, Women in Technology and Leadership | No Comments


From TED.COM:  Jennifer M. Granholm, former two-term governor of Michigan  makes the case for empowering states to create jobs through a Clean Energy Jobs Race to the Top … and demonstrates Alpha Partner skills in the process!

She’s relaxed, confident, and has a commanding presence.

Watch Jennifer Granholm’s TED talk to see these Alpha Partner behaviors in action:

  • High energy
  • Downward inflection
  • Short sentences with pauses.
  • Conversational tone of voice
  • Eye contact throughout the room
  • Large, firm gestures
  • Open body, neutral stance
  • Personable, shares anecdotes & personal stories
  • Uses humor
  • Downplays mistakes

Note that she becomes more of herself, not less, as she steps into her full power.


NAAWLI: the next wave of leaders

Posted by | Coaching, Employee Resource Groups, Strong Smart Women | No Comments


We were honored to coach the National African American Women’s Leadership Institute (NAAWLI) Fellows, Class of 2014 in March.  If you are interested in cultivating the leadership talent of high potentials who happen to be both female and African-American, we urge you to become familiar with this organization.

We spent the day with more than a dozen professionals from companies such as Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, and State Farm Insurance as well as entrepreneurs of thriving small businesses.  Each of these individuals discovered keys that will enhance her personal leadership presence in meetings, in dealing with higher ups, customers, sales prospects, and in presentations.  In addition to explaining and putting into practice the Predator / Prey / Partner™ model, we explored some of the issues unique to women and to African-Americans in business.

Undoubtedly this group, who participated with admirable courage, represents the next wave of leaders from this sector.  We look forward to witnessing their future success as they step into the power of their authentic selves.

Organizer Pamela Benson Owens was kind enough to send this note after the session: The session was the perfect blend of behavioral science, managing and addressing perceptions, specific strategies to manage both verbal and non-verbal cues and communication, and a plethora of skill building opportunities to practice.”