Becoming A Professional Speaker With Naomi Rhode And Finding Productivity Within A Virtual Coworking Community With Megan Taylor Morrison

Public speaking can be a daunting thing for many people, but not for Naomi Rhode. Naomi is a Hall of Fame speaker, transformational life coach, author, and recipient of the prestigious Cabot Award. In this episode, Naomi shares the story of her success in the professional speaking space. She gives well-meaning advice for speakers and some techniques for telling a good story, and then provides an overview of the differences between counseling, consulting, and coaching. Naomi also discusses why there are fewer women speakers and whether it’s a fair game for women. If you are a speaker or an aspiring one, Naomi’s story and insights are sure to be useful for you. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of the world to stay and even work in their homes, bringing with it the difficulty of motivating yourself and become accountable. That’s where Megan Taylor Morrison comes in with her virtual coworking community. Megan is a life and business coach and the founder of The Thriving Creator. She launched an online space to boost a community among work from home entrepreneurs and changemakers. In this episode, Megan shares tips on how to keep people motivated despite having distractions and discouragements around the home. She also discusses what goes on in the virtual space, the most common tool they use, and how virtual workplaces fare across certain age groups.

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking Community

 

We have Naomi Rhode and Megan Taylor Morrison here. Naomi is a Hall of Fame speaker. She’s an incredible coach and an executive who has done many things with her life. I’m excited to have her on. Megan is the Founder of The Thriving Creator. You’ve probably seen her featured in the New York Times about working virtually and some of the virtual options that she creates for people. This is going to be a great show with two impressive leaders, speakers, and founders. I’m excited to have them on the show.

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Becoming A Professional Speaker With Naomi Rhode

I am here with Naomi Rhode, who is a Hall of Fame speaker. She is a transformational life coach and author. She is a recipient of the prestigious Cavett Award. It’s nice to have you here, Naomi.

That’s fun.

You have quite a background. You have inspired me. I haven’t met a lot of Hall of Fame speakers. I was thinking of how many people who’ve been on my show who are Hall of Fame speakers. Bob Burg, Joe Calloway, and Larry Winget, the whole group, they’ve all been on my show. Amanda Gore and Glenna Salsbury, but there aren’t too many women Hall of Fame speakers. How did you reach that level of success?

It was planned. How about that? I don’t think I knew the plan because I had no intention of being a speaker. It happened to be somewhat accidental. When I was early in my career, I found that I had some natural gift for storytelling, for impactful inspirational messages, and the audience responded. Before I knew it, I had a national reputation. I was involved with becoming President of the National Speakers Association and then the International Federation for Professional Speakers. It’s gone on from there. Sometimes, that first step into the water makes all the difference in the world. I’m of a Christian faith but we also have a Jewish faith. They had to put their foot in the water before the Red Sea or the Jordan River divided.

The first time I was asked to speak was a complete surprise to me. I was handed a microphone in front of 600 people and I was given a half-hour on the platform. It was a complete surprise. I’d never held a microphone before. I got two speaking engagements, half a day and a full day. It was planned. I stepped into the water and the waters parted and I crossed. It’s been an amazing career. Diane, I know you have an amazing career and an amazing background. If you love what you do, you never go to work because your work is your passion and your life. That has been my passion in my life besides the passion of raising kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. There are lots of other passions but certainly the platform which has built a huge business for us outside of the platform, which was unexpected also.

You have a great family and a long marriage. How long have you been married?

Sixty-two years, can you believe it? Someone said I’ve gotten so old that my kids are the same age as I am. I think that’s true. I married young. It was a thing to do. I had turned nineteen and I married the love of my life. Our marriage has been an incredible gift. For example, I was having some residual pain from a stroke I had years ago. I was hurting and this amazing husband said, “Come outside.” I said, “What?” There was the moon and it was beautiful. It’s that marriage, it’s that companionship, it’s that friendship that keeps life joyous and fulfilled, even in the hard times that we’re going through with the virus and everything that’s going on. It has been joyous and I wish that for everybody.

You have such a passion for life. I know you’ve written books that have been successful. You’ve been included even in Chicken Soup for the Soul series and many things that you’ve done. You mentioned the difficult times that people are having with the COVID thing. I can’t imagine having more difficult times in some ways for speakers since they can’t travel. What advice do you give to speakers? I know I speak and I’m doing some things for Zoom. I had a lot of virtual webinars. A lot of the Hall of Fame type of speakers that level, they would love the audience. They live off that live interaction. What advice do you give them?

Stay in the course. What I mean by that is I believe this too shall pass. If we lose our momentum, then it’s going to be harder to ramp up. How do we maintain that momentum? We feed the audience and the meeting planners with our information, with our positive input, maybe with podcasts and other forms of information, and keeping platforms alive. For example, I was on an airplane almost every week for 40 years to fly somewhere. In semi-retirement after being on the platform for 42 years, I’m doing a lot of coaching which I know you do also, Diane. I have some clients that are saying to me, “Naomi, right now I can’t afford this but I need some help in A, B, C areas.” I said, “No problem, let’s talk. We’re not going to put it on the clock.” My income is down but their income is down also. We’re either all in this together or we’re not.

It’s keeping your platform alive in different ways, whether it’s Zoom, podcasting, phone calls, email or letters. Keeping those markets, meeting planners, knowing that you are alive is also feeding your passion. For example, it’s a great time to go through your material and say, “This is still relevant. I could put this segment in this keynote. That would be great. I haven’t used that story for a long time.” Hall of Fame speakers have files for stories. Jeanne Robertson who is one of our greats, got us all started in having a story file online. You don’t waste a story. You develop a story. You’re going to use it in many different contexts and in many different customization ways. When you speak, especially in the corporate market, you’re customizing a presentation differently for every audience. You could take certain stories and you can amalgamate them into presentations in different audiences. This is a great time for us as real professionals to be working on our craft.

I opened up one of my journals and I have 180 questions that I ask when I’m coaching. They’re all scratched in little handwriting here and there in different colored ink. I thought, “When I get off this call, I’m going to put those all in a Word document.” I’ve got them all together. They’re readily accessible. They’re not hidden in a journal up in my cupboard. It’s a time for us to do those things to keep our preparation and our minds keen. It’s a time to do more reading. I’m reading several different books and I love it because I’ve not had this much time to read for a long time.

There are lots of things we can do as professionals to keep alive the passion within us. If that passion dies, we have no platform when this too shall pass and I believe it will. I refer to Biblical context often. In the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, the phrase comes, “For such a time as this.” Those of you that know the Esther story know why that was said. That phrase “For such a time as this” is an interesting phrase for this time. What are we doing for such a time as this so that we could continue to grow and be prepared for the next time?

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking Community
Virtual Coworking Community: There’s a long ramp-up to become well-known as a keynote speaker. A keynoter gets a lot of money in comparison to a breakout speaker.

 

I want to go back to what you said about stories and keeping track of stories. I’ve had a lot of great speakers on the show, everybody from Tom Hopkins to Scott McKain and beyond. Afterward, I would ask a lot of them, “How do you come up with these great stories?” Some people are natural storytellers. A lot of them say they take stories from their lives and embellish them and making them much more interesting. What are some of your techniques for telling a good story? Is there a particular story you’d love to tell more than any other?

I have challenged myself through the years, every time I went to a speech, to develop a new story on the way to the speech. What do I mean by that? You get off the elevator maybe and you bump into a guy that looks a little different and you say, “Good morning. Where are you from?” He tells you and you find out something about him that could be interesting to weave into what you’re going to be talking about. You have a person serve you in a special way at the restaurant that morning and you use that example for what you’re speaking of when you’re talking about customer service. People look too far for a story. It’s right in front of you. Look for the stories that you can develop from your own life and your own experience right in front of you, then use them in your customized examples.

One of the stories that I love to share is one that my dad told me about a shopkeeper. During the Great Depression, this shopkeeper was the opposite in his philosophy of life from all the rest of the shopkeepers. Instead of being stingy, when you came into his shop, he had this beautiful scale. On one side of the scale, he would put the five-pound weight and the empty container on the other side. He then starts scooping the coffee beans into that container until it was perfectly level with the five-pound weight. He would pause and he would look at you and he’d smile. He put a scoop again into the bag of beans and made a big heaping scoop on top. It would off-weigh the five pounds in your favor. He would say that wonderful French creole expression, “Lagniappe.” It means every bit you paid for and then a little bit extra. That’s a story my dad told me a long time ago because he died when I was twelve years old. I’ve used that story over and over because even now, it’s the people who are lagniappe, who give a little bit extra that make all the difference in the world.

I have a friend who sent out an email and she said, “I’m going to be in the parking lot of such and such store tomorrow at 2:00. I’m sending this out to a number of my friends. I bought a large number of Easter lilies. I’d like to give them to you as a gift.” Lagniappe. In the middle of this season where we hardly even see each other, she’s going to have a big bunch of Easter lilies in the parking lot of a grocery store. We’re going to go and be the recipients of that gift. That’s where you could take a common story that maybe you’ve had forever. What did I just do? I told you a story but then I applied it to the day with another story because this is a time where it fits well.

I have New York stories, Hawaiian stories, Texas stories, railroad stories. I have all kinds of stories that fit wherever I’m going to be speaking and that works for me well. The story file idea for speakers is a good idea. The question file for coaches is a good idea, asking poignant questions because as you know, there’s a huge difference between counseling, consulting, and coaching. Counselors are medically and scientifically trained, whether they are psychologists or psychiatrists. We know the difference there. Consultants tend to have a template that they come in and say, “This is working in other businesses. I’d like to try it in yours.” Coaching is just asking poignant questions that cause people to find the answer within themselves. Having that list of questions available for coaching calls or in-person is also a good idea.

I wrote about curiosity and that’s my focus. I love it when people ask important questions because many people have a lot of assumptions. They have that voice in their head telling them something that maybe isn’t even accurate and that’s such an important thing. You’re talking about all of these stories and the things that you’re able to share. I was asked to speak on perseverance. I’ve had a lot of health-related stories but not business failure stories. I know they wanted it to be a business failure story. I know you’ve had health issues. You mentioned your stroke and issues that you’ve dealt with. If you had to give a perseverance talk, is there a particular story that you like for that?

I have two. The stroke story would be one because years ago, I had this massive stroke on the way to a speaking engagement in an airport in Traverse City, Michigan. I was paralyzed. I couldn’t see at first. I have a frozen vocal cord as a result of it, which is quite interesting for a speaker. I have a raspy voice, but that works fine with a microphone. I have a choice of working for one year through physical therapy, occupational therapy, and voice therapy three times a week for a year to get out of a wheelchair or to stay in bed. I not only got out of a wheelchair and out of a walker but I am also ambulatory and have been speaking ever since. That takes determination. For me, that was one of the times that perseverance was the most amazingly important.

Each of us has those times of physical disabilities and we either say, “Get that knee replaced or not. Do I want to hike that mountain again or don’t I?” There are physical times but because we are in the time that we’re in, which could be producing a severe recession similar to 2008, we also had an enormous loss in 2008. We lost way more money than I knew we had. We lost over $20 million in 2008. Right after my stroke, I was sitting in a red recliner chair on a Saturday and my husband said to me, “I need to talk to you. We have potentially lost everything. We could end up in an apartment with one car.” What do you do? My first response was to get angry, “How could this happen? Did you not do something right?” That was probably 40 seconds, maybe 30 seconds.

Sometimes, that first step into the water makes all the difference in the world. Click To Tweet

All of a sudden, it was a God message that said, “Stop it. Do you want to be a helper or hindrance to this?” Instantly, something stopped me. I believe it was God. I said to Jim, “I am sorry. Forgive me. I will be your partner. We’ll get through this.” It took one year. It took the best lawyers in Phoenix. It took amazing counsel. It took amazing work with twelve different banks. They almost gave him a standing ovation a year later. All twelve bankers were together because he had hung in there. We had done our best and we had not folded. That one year was total perseverance. I have to tell you, Diane, because there may be some women reading this. Ladies, walk into your closet. Go into your closet and you tell me honestly, how long could you shop in your own closet? I shopped for five years in my own closet. I was speaking full-time at the time. I don’t think anyone knew the difference.

That is one of the things I thought of with all this as well. Everybody is so much under stress. My husband is a local plastic surgeon. He can’t work because they won’t let any surgeries be done. We’re all facing a time of stress and cutbacks. I thought about the same thing with my clothes. I’m thinking, “Why do I even have all this stuff?”

Don’t you say that? “What do I have all this stuff for?” It’s a great question.

It’s a great question but at this time of stress, it’s a hard thing. You brought up women and the differences a little bit here. I wanted to bring up the women versus men speaker thing because there are so many Hall of Fame speakers who are men. I mentioned some of them. I enjoyed talking to Tony Alessandra and they’re all great. Why aren’t there more women in that group? Do you think it’s a fair game for women? Are we equally as critical of men as we are of women?

First of all, Diane, you ask great questions. The second question you asked is especially poignant. Let’s go back a little bit historically. In 1977, I was asked to keynote at the National Speakers Association. I was the first woman speaker to do that. Jeanne Robertson spoke later that same meeting but I was the first. I can remember one woman came up to me and there was a little bit of green jealousy coming out of her eyeballs. I’m not sure but she said, “I don’t think you wore the right thing to be the speaker this morning.” She was criticizing what I was wearing. Let’s join together. Let’s not criticize. Nonetheless, there were no women that were keynoters. There were a lot of women who were trainers, authors, and counselors, but not a lot of women who were keynoters.

Do I know the reason why? One of the things I would say is there’s a long ramp-up to become well-known as a keynoter. A keynoter gets a lot of money in comparison to a breakout speaker. We all know that. There are a lot of ramp-ups. An organization is not going to hire a keynoter until they know they’re good. That takes time. We as women have other interests. We do have family interests. We do spend time raising kids. We do have some of those relationship issues that keep us maybe from being full-time gung-ho professionals.

For me, I had the advantage of getting married young, having all my children by the time I was age 25 and that gave me the ramp up time. They were in college when I was 40 years old and they were all in California. I live in Arizona. I have the time to spend on this profession. My husband started speaking also. He had been a consultant. His engineering and strategist training from the University of Minnesota made him a good consultant. He and I started speaking together in a narrow niche and then we started providing products for that narrow niche. We built a business out of speaking that was beyond just the speaking. We built a triangular business. One point is being the keynote, one doing the seminars that we sponsored and gave probably up to twelve a year. The other point of that triangle is the product we sold. Those three points of that triangle became a successful business because they were facilitative of each other. They were synergistic.

We would speak for a big convention and then we would say, “By the way, we’re having a seminar in Hawaii. Come and join us.” We would get maybe 60 couples to come and bring their people. We have a big group in Hawaii. We did 88 trips to Hawaii speaking for seminars. That was a part of a triangle. Once they’ve heard us speak, once they come to a seminar and they knew we had all this product, they bought the product from us instead of other vendors. The product part of the triangle became the golden goose for us. That’s what built a well over $100 million company. That part of the business. It wasn’t just a product that supported the speaking. It was a product that supported the niche we were speaking in.

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking Community
Virtual Coworking Community: We may see an overall increase in the quality of life that people have when they’re freer to work from home.

 

We started speaking in dentistry. We became well-known in dentistry, and then we built not only a dental business but also medical, chiropractic, veterinarian and printing business. Now we have businesses in seven countries. It expanded exponentially. When I say we have companies in seven countries, I have to tell you that we’ve passed it on to the next generation. Our daughter is a dentist and her husband is a physician. They have two sons that are already dermatologists. We also have a dermatology business. They have the business. We still have offices there but they own the business. They’re scrambling and hurting now. It’s a hard time. That gives you an idea of how we expanded keynoting.

Your original question, I hope I answered it. It was harder for women, at least at the beginning, to ramp up to the notoriety to be keynoters. Perhaps there was also reticence on the part of corporations and associations to hire a woman keynoter for a big convention versus a man for many years. I’m not sure. I refused to see sex as being a divider. I decided I either do it or not. You either need my services or not. I’m not going to worry about whether I’m a male or female. I’m going to be good.

You definitely are good. You’re incredible and you’ve got an honorary Doctorate degree on top of it. All the awards you won are well deserved. I was looking forward to having you on the show. It was so nice to be introduced through Jeff Blackman. I know you live in Arizona as I do.

You live in Scottsdale.

I am right in that area. There are a few of us here. I know I mentioned Larry Winget. I’m trying to think of other Hall of Famers. I mentioned Tom Hopkins.

There are lots of us. Years ago, I heard someone say, “The only people that die in Arizona are those that don’t get here soon enough.” Maybe that’s why we have many great speakers here because they don’t want to die.

If you have to be quarantined anywhere, this is the place to be. We have the greatest weather.

It’s been beautiful. We sit outside and we have meals outside and sit in the Jacuzzi at night. You’re absolutely right. I always refer to scripture. I won’t even apologize for it. There’s a verse in the Old Testament that says, “The boundary lines have been drawn for me in very pleasant places.” That’s true right here in Scottsdale. The boundary lines have been drawn in very pleasant places. It’s a nice place to be especially during this time where we’re all isolated.

This has been such a great conversation. I hope many people, especially speakers who are reading this, get a lot of great tips on how to become better speakers. I enjoyed having you on the show, Naomi. Thank you so much for joining me.

I look forward to meeting you in person. You’re a delightful interviewer. I hope also that this will be a program that will be of help to many people. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

If we lose our momentum, it's going to be harder to ramp up. Click To Tweet

Finding Productivity Within A Virtual Coworking Community With Megan Taylor Morrison

I am here with Megan Taylor Morrison who is the Founder of The Thriving Creator, a virtual co-working community founded to boost community among work from home entrepreneurs and change-makers. It hosts virtual coworking sessions, Monday through Friday. The Thriving Creator was featured in The New York Times article called Working At Home? Self-Isolation Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely. It’s nice to have you here, Meg.

It’s great to be here, Diane. Thanks for having me.

You’re welcome. That’s such an important topic to talk about. We’re in the middle of this COVID crisis and working from home is something that many people don’t know how to do. They haven’t worked virtually. I’ve worked this way for more than 33 years. To me, nothing’s that different in some ways but to many other people, it’s huge. I want to get a little background on you to know how you’ve got to be such an expert in this area and hear a little bit more about The Thriving Creator.

I’m a life and business coach. I’ve been working online with people for a few years and it’s an art. It’s definitely something that if you want to have a real connection with someone over a phone call or a video session. It’s not always obvious. I’ve been running online communities, group coaching programs, one-on-one coaching programs digitally for a while now. I’ve absolutely loved it because it gives people the freedom to connect with me no matter where they are. Whether they’re at home, in an office, we can hold incredible group programs with people from across the world. For me, I get to be anywhere also. There’s a lot of freedom to running things virtually.

To me, I work much harder if I’m at home. In the office, I tend to be chatty and I go around talking to people. Half the time, I don’t get nearly as much done. When I’m at home, I don’t even feel like I’m working half the time. A lot of people don’t feel like I do. They have a hard time with motivation. It’s hard for me to explain where mine comes from sometimes. It’s probably because I love what I do. What do you tell somebody who says, “I want to do the laundry. I look outside and I look at the squirrels?” How do you keep people motivated?

It’s all about structure. People like you and me, we naturally build in structure to our day and have this ability to focus in for whatever reason. Whether we love what we do or we’re just that type of person. Most people have more of a challenge figuring out how to be as productive at home. I always tell people that creating more structure works. You can do this by joining a virtual coworking community like mine. You can also do this by creating your own structures. There are challenges with that however because you’re depending on other people to maintain that structure voluntarily like you would with your gym buddy. Many of us have had the experience where we want a gym buddy or we want someone to hold us accountable. Over time that structure loses its power. Somebody has to go to the dentist and then get sick, and then this and that. Before you know it, that structure is gone.

Putting structure into calendars can help for some people, to have certain things you do at 8:00. For me, everything’s on my calendar because I want to remember to do certain things. I use Google Calendar. Do you have a certain way that you keep structured?

My Google Calendar is terrifying to most people.

Mine is so bad. It’s like, “There used to be white space.”

I even put in the time that’s for me. I always make sure to block off after 6:00 PM. I don’t do anything before 8:00 AM because that’s my time to do deep work and writing. Everything is time blocked for me. It’s the same way with our co-working sessions. Those are always time blocked so that they fit right into people’s schedules.

Tell me about these coworking meetings that you have. What do you guys talk about? What happens during this?

You hop on a Zoom line or a video conferencing line. There’s a professional facilitator. The facilitator is going to do two things. The first is to check in with you and see what it is that you’re going to complete during that session. Sessions can be anywhere from an hour to two hours. When you tell them what you’re going to do, the trick is to be specific. The facilitator will encourage you to be as specific as possible. You’re not just going to work on your book for an hour. Your goal is to write 500 words, for instance. There’s something specific goals. They’ll also offer a challenge or a question. A challenge might be, what’s your biggest distraction and can you ignore it for the next hour? What’s the energy that you want to bring to your work? Is it the energy of focus? Is it the energy of gratitude or joy? These questions help us enter a flow state as we get into work. Normally we enter work and we work by default. Maybe we’re bringing in all of the bad energy that we had earlier in the day into the book we’re writing or into the invoices we’re doing. It doesn’t feel very good.

This facilitator, do they stay online while you work or are you interacting with them?

After people say what they’re going to do, everyone mutes but stays on video. While you’re working, you will see other people in the corner of your screen working, which is surprisingly effective. At the end of the allotted time, the facilitator brings everybody back and checks in with each person, “Did you do what you said you would do?”

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking Community
Virtual Coworking Community: By creating structured ways for people to communicate, there’s that deeper level that allows each person to be really heard and seen by the other members.

 

It’s an accountability thing.

We always end with something upbeat like a one-minute dance party, some stretching or a positive quote to send people off feeling good. It is primarily an accountability structure.

How many people are usually in these sessions at a time?

There are anywhere from 4 to 8. We try to keep it small and intimate. That way you get attention and you get to know the other people that are coworking with you, which is part of the community aspect.

Are the people doing the same types of work that you’re doing or does it matter?

It’s completely different. We’ve got a woman who is a writer and a woman who did the piece in the New York Times. We have coaches, consultants, academics. We have a rabbi in the group. There are people from all different walks of life, all different ages, men and women. It’s a fun group of people.

Do teams ever use this to all work together so you know everybody’s working on the same thing? Are they always people who aren’t necessarily in the same company?

There are people that are not in the same company and that’s part of the niche I wanted to fill with the community. Most of the time, a company has its own thing going versus those of us who are solopreneurs or work from home. We may not have that structure and we may miss the interaction with other people during the day or the deadlines, which are helpful. When you work on your own, you don’t necessarily have firm deadlines.

There are many people who need stuff like this. Zoom is such a great tool. I know they’re having their challenges. I’ve heard of the attacks that they got with different things. I’m glad that they’re going to work on making it even better because Zoom has always been my favorite of all of the conferencing tools. I’ve never been a huge fan of Skype and some of the others. Is that a particular favorite of yours? Do you always use Zoom?

I’d be curious to know more about how you use Zoom. I’ve done this coworking from all different places in the world. I’ve tuned in from Portugal, Spain, and the Dominican Republic. If you’re a digital nomad, this is a great community. Zoom is reliably the best quality. I love Zoom and I always recommend it.

It is the best quality in a lot of respects for me as well. The things I’d like to see improve on Zoom would be to be able to use it better for my radio show. I do use it for the radio show when people are in different countries rather than make them call in on a US number. They don’t have to do that. You can’t separate the two voices, mine and theirs, as you can when you’re calling in. They’re calling in and it goes right to GarageBand on my Mac. Your voice is on a separate thread than my voice and I can edit it well. With Zoom, it all comes in as one thing. That’s something I’d like to see them change. As far as for conferencing needs, I think that Zoom is idiot-proof. You hit the link and that’s what I love about it. You don’t have to have username, screen name thing for people. They can get in if they need to. That makes it so much better. It’s great for many different things like collaboration. Sometimes you talk about collaborating with at least five people. You could still have a quorum. Do you want to talk about that? I’m curious, what do you mean by that?

One of the things that your comments are making me think about working as a business and leadership coach. I work with a lot of clients who are looking at how to evolve their businesses. More and more are turning to Zoom. The things that I’ve loved about it so far are the breakout rooms. It’s nice that you can send people into different rooms for different discussions or more intimate coworking settings. If somebody needs support on something, you can jump into a private room with them. That’s awesome. I’m also glad that they’re working on some of the security issues because I’ve heard of a few people getting hacked and it sounded not fun.

Coaching is asking poignant questions that cause people to find the answer within themselves. Click To Tweet

I hadn’t done the breakout rooms. I’ve done webinars. You can go into separate little rooms. I don’t use it that way. How does that work?

On Zoom, when you are the admin, you can send people into separate rooms. You, as the admin, can go in between the rooms if you want to.

Can you have them all open at once so you can see them at once or not?

No. It says, “Room 1. Room2. Room 3.” You can access each one.

If somebody is in room 1 and you’re in room 3, can they buzz you so that they need you?

I don’t think so.

I was on a Zoom meeting one time with Sal Khan of Khan Academy. He’s part of a group that I work with in Global Mentor Network. There’s so much that you can share. I love being able to share your screen back and forth if anybody needs to see things. It’s easy to share presentations. There’s a ton of things you can do. I use it to communicate with my mom if she’s trying to tell me what’s wrong in her house. I’m like, “Show me what light bulb you’re talking about,” or whatever it is. There are many ways we could communicate. Unfortunately, the COVID situation is making people learn this at a faster rate than they would have. We’re going to see a big change in how much virtual work we can do. What do you think the impact it’s going to have on how much more people work virtually after this?

A lot of people were tentative about taking their employees virtually previously. They are wondering if they’d be as productive, if they’d be reliable to get the work done. After this, there’s going to be so much possibility for people that want to have that digital nomad lifestyle. In that way, that is an interesting way that work and life may evolve for us in the coming years. I know that for a lot of people, that’s more of the lifestyle that they prefer anyway. We may see an overall increase in the quality of life that people have when they’re freer to work from home.

The only thing I have problems with are a few things for me personally. I like to work at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. No one else wants to do that. I like asynchronous working and Zoom is synchronous. You’re right there at the same time. Another thing I like to do is not have to put on hair, makeup, and everything. When you get on Zoom, you put on the camera. Women have another hour to get ready that men don’t have to deal with.

We try to take the pressure off of the people in our group. I even come to the call sometimes right after I’ve gotten out of the shower and my hair is still wet. Sometimes people come in their pajamas. We had a funny hat and mustache week where people came on calls wearing all sorts of crazy hats. I painted on a mustache, just to keep things light at a time when joy does not feel as present as it has in the past. It’s funny that you say that. The people that are attracted to this community are willing to let their hair down and show up in any which way. There’s a certain casualness about it that attracts a specific type of person, but I know how you feel because when I’m going to go to a lot of Zoom meetings, especially with clients or whoever else, I also want to look good. I get it.

In that setting, definitely. I know with FaceTime and Snapchat, they’ll put the fake little face on you with the cap or whatever. Zoom needs to put that in or the ones that put you in the glam makeup would be my preference. I was on FaceTime with my daughters and I was just done from working out. I was kidding around with them and I hit the face thing the whole time we were talking. It moves with your face and it does everything with your face. I’m thinking, “That’s what they need on Zoom.” If Zoom is reading, please incorporate that. The problem I have with Zoom is if you have a lot of people in the room and everybody wants to talk at the same time. A lot of us are doing family get-togethers at night since we can’t go to each other’s houses. I have one daughter in Northern and one in Southern California. I’m in Arizona and my mom is down the street. We’re all trying to get together. You get 6, 7 or 8 people go in and they all want to talk. How do you decide who talks without interrupting?

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking Community
Virtual Coworking Community: Age group doesn’t matter so much in the digital community. It’s more about their comfort with the community and their personality.

 

This is why having a good facilitator is important. With virtual coworking, we don’t have too much of a problem because it is structured. We also do community calls where people sign on and we get to know each other and those need a bit of a heavier hand. The way that I like to do it is by creating structured ways for people to share and be heard. For instance, I may give people a sentence stem like, “The sentence stem today is how I’m feeling at this moment.” People share how they’re feeling at this moment or we might do something where somebody talks for three minutes about how they’re feeling, what’s coming up for them around COVID-19, and their work and their lives. We all reflect back on the things that we heard. We might reflect back like, “I felt you the most when,” or “Something I think I get about you is.” That way, people feel a sense of community, but also there’s that deeper level of allowing each person to be heard and seen by the other members. In that way, I found that a well-run Zoom call or video call is as effective at building community in that sense of being seen as any in-person event and everyone does get to speak.

I’ve taught a lot of first-time online students. I’ve been an online instructor for a lot of different universities. One of the things we taught first on how to work in an online setting was netiquette, which is internet etiquette combined to get netiquette. We teach certain things for online courses that would probably be helpful in any kind of virtual setting of when to put on your mute and when to make sure it’s off. Some of it reminds me of having Tripp Crosby on my show with his A Conference Call in Real Life because conference calls have their unique aspects. I don’t know if you’ve seen that YouTube video. If you haven’t, please search for it. It’s my favorite of all time. It’s showing all the issues you could have working on conference calls. If you can be in video conferences, you lose some of those issues but you still have the people who have noise going on. Do you mute everybody or do you ask everybody to do it individually? How do you handle that?

Most people know the system. When people first join the community, I typically meet with them one-on-one and share with them the netiquette. One of those things is that when you’re on and you’re not speaking, you mute. As the admin, I also have the power to mute people. If someone forgets, I just go ahead and do it for them.

Once you get used to Zoom if you put your mouse towards the bottom of the square window that you’re in, you can see that there’s a chat area, Q&A session, and different things, depending on what the settings are that have been set up. Do you use the chat or the Q&A or any of that?

If you’re not using the different features of Zoom, you’re missing out because they are a lot of fun. At the end of our calls when we’re checking in with people, we like to celebrate if people have done what they said they did. People will be typing in the chatbox like, “Woohoo,” or “Good work.” Other people will be pumping their fists like cheering for people on the screen. We’re a very enthusiastic supportive group.

It’s fun when they start adding the memes and the things, Tiger King or whatever things that people watch. HR people are great at that. When I’ve spoken for SHRM on Twitter, I’ve been on these tweet chat sessions. The more you add the fun things that show your personality, it makes it much more entertaining. Do you have any favorite things that people post? Do you like it when they do the GIFs? Can you do them in Zoom? I never noticed that they do GIFs in Zoom.

You can’t do GIFs on Zoom. I always encourage people to be commenting as much as they can. As people are sharing the work that they’re doing or just staying. It helps people stay engaged and therefore, it helps them feel not to drift off and not to lose focus. I’m trying to think if there’s anything that I’ve seen people do that I love. Maybe not on Zoom, but we have an active WhatsApp channel. One of my favorite things is when people share their wins and things that have gone well. You generally know what people are working on. We know if the climate scientist in our group is working on a grant. Maybe she’ll send out a message to the WhatsApp chat, “I got the grant,” then everybody celebrates. It almost feels like a community win at that point because you’ve been watching this person work toward their goal.

It’s interesting that they don’t allow GIFs and it’s not one of the features. You almost think it would help add to the fun of it. They’re probably going to add all kinds of stuff because the value that Zoom has had and all the other virtual conference software packages have had. I’m sure they’re seeing some different niche areas that they never considered before. It’s such a great thing to be able to have a community. Do you find that certain age groups do better working virtually than others or is it the same across the board?

Age group doesn’t matter so much as their comfort with the digital community. Our age group spans from about 28 to probably 70 in the group. It’s about whether people are open to an online community, which more and more people will be after the pandemic. Age group doesn’t matter. It’s more about their comfort with the community and also their personality. Our group has a personality just like any company has a personality. We tend to attract people that are positive, community-minded, and on top of things too. They’ll sign on. If it’s at 1:00, they’re there at 1:00. They’re reliable and they have integrity. That’s the flavor of our community.

Do you have any 5:00 AM groups? I know the answer to that. When my daughter was in Europe, that was about the only time we were both awake at the same time because she’s a night owl and I’m an early morning person.

We sometimes laugh because our calls start around noon on most days. The Europeans in the group have said, “Can’t we do some more early morning calls?” We started an 8:00 AM call on Thursday that the Europeans love. They’re thrilled for that call.

Does everybody sign on Monday through Friday or maybe I just do Mondays and somebody else does Tuesdays? How does that work?

You can use as much of it as you want. It’s always open and available. People tend to develop a habit of sorts of which calls they come to, but you can do as much or as little as you like.

It’s a great option for people, but I can’t tell you how many people I work with who struggle with it. To me, it seems so much better and easier. I have that motivation to want to work virtually, but many people get distracted and they need that accountability. I was looking forward to this and what you’re doing is important, Meg. A lot of people could get some value from this. If they wanted to find out more, how would they do that?

If you're not using the different features of Zoom, you're missing out. Click To Tweet

They can go to TheThrivingCreator.com or they can go to my personal website, which is MeganTaylorMorrison.com.

This has been fun and congratulations on your article. It must be exciting to be in The New York Times. It’s great that you’re doing this and I hope everybody takes some time to check out your work. Thank you for being on the show, Meg.

Thank you, Diane.

I’d like to thank both Naomi and Meg for being my guests. We get many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. If you want any more information about Cracking the Curiosity Code or the Curiosity Code Index, it’s all there as well. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you’ll join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Naomi Rhode

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking CommunityNaomi Rhode, CSP, CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame®, a graduate and alumni of the year of the University of Minnesota, is Professional Speaker, Speaking and Transformational Life Coach and Author. She has spoken in all 50 states and 15 foreign countries. She is a member of Speaker’s Round Table a recipient of the prestigious Cavett Award and Past President of the National Speakers Association and The Global Speakers Federation. Naomi is a Co-Founder of SmartHealth, Inc., a much-sought-after professional speaker and emcee, and the author of three inspirational books, The Gift of Family – A Legacy of Love, More Beautiful Than Diamonds – The Gift of Friendship, and My Father’s Hand – A Daughter’s Reflections on a Father’s Wisdom. She has co-authored Speaking Secrets of the Masters, Meditations for the Road Warrior and many other multi-authored books including many of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.

About Megan Taylor Morrison

TTL 699 | Virtual Coworking CommunityMegan Taylor Morrison, MSJ, is a professional business coach who supports her clients in building their confidence, visibility, leadership skills, and resilience, as well as creating a values-based lifestyle. Her clients come from a variety of industries, including architecture, photography, nonprofit, coaching, consulting, consumer goods and more.Meg is also the founder of The Thriving Creator. This virtual coworking community, founded to boost community among work-from-home entrepreneurs and changemakers, hosts virtual coworking sessions Monday through Friday. The Thriving Creator was recently featured in a New York Times article called Working at Home? Self-Isolation Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely.

 

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