Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finding My Platinum Presence

Standing in front of a room of friendly faces, eager to hear what I have to say.

Sitting across a table of people. All eyes on me. Judging if I am the right person to join them.

Speaking on the phone to a client, explaining my thoughts with the authority they need to hear to give them the unequivocal assurance to move forward with their ideas.

We have all experienced moments like this. With twenty-years of a professional experience, I have experienced all of these things over and over again. Now I experience them with a confidence that I previously did not have.

I do not want to stereotype, but I believe that many of us who choose the library sciences as a profession would classify ourselves as "introverts." According to the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, "Studies show that one third to one half of us are introverts." Being introverted has its advantages. Usually, feeling comfortable in the presence of others is not one of them.

To say that Cheryl Dolan's "Platinum Presence" workshop has changed my professional journey is an understatement. Cheryl Dolan has changed my life. Truly. I have mentioned in this blog in the past that I consider myself an introvert. I am full of ideas. I love to share them, but I always have a niggling feeling when I am with groups. It's a feeling that tells me I'd rather be at home alone with a book or communicating through social media rather than face to face. When I was a young professional, I had a horrible time speaking to an audience. And even though now it is one of my favorite things to do, I replay every talk I give over and over in my brain for hours after the event. "Did they like me? What do I need to change? Did they like me?" In fact, when I interviewed for the first professional position that I eventually landed twenty years ago, I couldn't speak in my interview with the library director. Yes, I literally couldn't speak because I was so nervous. He was kind and patient and saw something in me that lead him to hire me.

My Platinum Presence class sits on their exercise balls.
That's me on the right.
Almost twenty years later, Cheryl gave me an opportunity to experience her two day class. She provides practical information about how to present oneself in many situations. She has us do a series of exercises that have us in front of a small group. We do some storytelling. We bounce on big exercise balls to ground ourselves and steady our voices. (It absolutely works! I now use the ball at home before I head out the door to speak to anyone!) We laugh. We learn. We get to know each other in a very relaxed and supportive atmosphere. I realized that everyone, even the people whom I would consider extroverts, had similar concerns about how they come across to others in different situations.

The group offers only positive feedback. I first thought that the positive feedback thing might not work. How could I possibly improve what was wrong if they only told me the positive? But really, I already knew what was wrong. I didn't fully know what was right. Now I can focus on my strengths and the bad stuff moves aside.

I want to thank my friend and new mentor, Cheryl Dolan for this terrific program that she has developed. It is a lifeline. It has given me a piece of myself that was missing. I have a new appreciation and understanding for how I come across to others. It has made me more attuned to my presence in a very positive way. It has given me the knowledge to show my Platinum Presence in any situation.

And finally, because my fellow Platinum Presence student Erica Holthausen of Honest Marketing Revolution shared her final class project, I am sharing mine.


  1. Melissa,

    You captured our Platinum Presence experience so perfectly! And I'm so glad you shared your final class project. I was so grateful to be able to hear your story and so excited that you are sharing it here. I've learned so much from you over the past couple of years -- about archives, about memories, about how to share our personal stories and about pure fearlessness! Your passion for your work is so clear and just shines through everything you do.

    I am so glad to know you!



  2. Bravo, Melissa.
    You already know how I feel about how your passion comes through when you speak, but I'm so glad that now - because of Cheryl's class and your courage in sharing this video - that others will get to experience it as well.

    Keep on rockin' it, mama. You have amazing stories to share and a heart that is overflowing with empathy and Big Love for the connections you see in the world around you. I'm so glad you're sharing all of that with all of us.


  3. This post really captures the you I am getting to know. You are amazing and brave. I feel privileged to know you.

  4. Library people are some of my VERY favorite people. When my kids were toddlers, it was the librarians that helped me find the right books that glued us together when everything else in my motherhood world was coming apart. I'm so glad you've found your way in the world, because the world NEEDS YOU!

  5. Wow! You are all very sweet. thank you! :)

  6. Yes, it's your passion - it's also how you bring us into your story so smoothly and creatively: the story, the card, the visualization and wow, all of this in such a short few minutes. Brilliance. I have learned from you as a professional AND as a person and look forward to knowing you for a long time to come.