How to Get a Step Ahead

Aside from working your butt off, cultivating your inner gladiator, and letting out a motivational roar every Monday, how can you get a step ahead of the competition?

Public speaking.

I’ve worked in many industries where competition is strong — engineering and the construction trades. Frankly, when they see me coming, they do their best to run me over. I’ve noticed. Don’t worry — I’m tough. It’s a fun and challenging dynamic.

One time, I went to a seminar in Menomonie regarding upcoming regulations for the landscaping industry. We were paired up with other attendees (IOW, other business owners and the competition). Our task? To design a landscape that would comply with new watershed regulations.

We had a few minutes to prepare, and the other 2 members of the team verbally tried their best to assert their own ideas. Then, it happened. We were asked to present our ideas.

Immediately, both men volunteered me to present.

They were nervous to present their ideas — even though it was really informal and not a big deal. In my brain, a bell rang. Why not develop the one area where other people scramble to get away from?

Consider — if you want to get ahead, instead of running with the pack, check to see what they’re running FROM.


Heidi Schreiner is a public speaker. She has spoken on topics such as leadership, culture, and marketing presentations for organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, writers groups, and Toastmasters. Want to know  more? Contact me, and let’s chat!

Leadership and Learning by doing

There’s only so much you can get from books. I’ve read 1000’s of books in my lifetime. Hundreds of them are about business and leadership.

I love books.

Books can get you to a lot of places. They’ve got loads of great information in them. There is a point, however, where you have to put the book down and get busy.

Getting up in front.

Recently, we had the Eau Claire kickoff for 1 Million Cups. I had the good fortune to be the emcee for the event. It was fun! 1 Million Cups gives business owners a chance to network over coffee (1 Million Cups of coffee, perhaps?). It’s also a way to learn from each other. Each week, business owners with a business that is less than 5 years old can present their idea and tell their story. At the end, the group audience asks questions and gives advice to help these entrepreneurs on their way. We all learn in the process.

Some of the folks on the organizational team are younger than I. I see in them the enthusiasm that it takes to be great at something, and when none of them shot their arm up to be the emcee, it got me thinking.

One of the ways to be successful (in my humble opinion) is to grow yourself as a leader. On-line, you could be a thought leader. Off-line, you could be presenting seminars about your area of expertise, speaking up at business meetings, or emceeing an event for young start-up businesses. It’s not easy, but that’s why you don’t see everyone doing it. If you want to make your mark in your industry, this is a great way to do that.

Start learning about leadership.

I’ve been a member of Toastmasters since 2013. In Toastmasters, you can grow your leadership qualities as much as you want. It takes work, of course, but there are people to help you and projects aplenty.

In my time at Toastmasters, I’ve gotten used to getting up in front of people. Then, I was elected into several leadership positions, and I … learned by figuring it out along the way. I asked questions and made mistakes. I connected with people and asked more questions.

Sometimes at work, it can be tough to take on new projects with confidence. This is especially true if you’ve not done it before. Don’t let that stop you.

More and more young people could be getting a step up on their careers by practicing getting in front of people on a regular basis.

This spring, I will be presenting ‘How to lead so they want to follow’ at the Spring Convention for the District 35 Toastmasters. The very first thing that I will be discussing is how to put yourself in leadership situations, so you can learn. Without that, you can’t get there from here.

Being a leader gets you noticed. Getting noticed is like free publicity. Free publicity is like cake. Everybody likes cake*.

*vague reference from Shrek because I’m like that.