August 2010

Create By In: Guess What

The right phrase can get your audience to re-invest in your story

After spending time with my nephew both Friday and Saturday I heard this term about 100 times as a connector inside of stories. I had almost forgotten how powerful getting small affirmations during a conversation can be (when done correctly).

Guess what?

Open-ended probes are powerful but they also allow an individual to lose control of the direction of a conversation. Yet, there is good news! The key is knowing when to use open-ended probes to start conversations and when to switch to closed-ended probes to come to an expected end. This is just one of many techniques to get buy-in.

As I look back I don’t know if I was ever actually coached as a child on how to create buy-in. The crazy part is effective leaders almost always have an inherent talent for story telling to generate buy-in. They have to be able to tell the story and gauge their audience at the same time to make sure they are keeping their attention, gaining their trust, and flexing their influence. See, it is only when the audience feels they are apart of the decision making process that they have the opportunity to have “shared meaning” on the final decision.

That being said, using phrases like “guess what” or “make sense” or “you know what I mean” are all ways to make sure your audience is still actively interested and invested.

So the next time you feel like you are telling a story that has captured the sentiments of your hearts and you don’t want your audience to miss a moment, throw in these phrases (sparingly of course) and see if this leads to better retention. P.S. All this knowledge comes courtesy of Dr. Ian Jennings who is a grand total of 5 years old!


Photo by Frederic Carmel

One early afternoon, during my high school days, I was sitting in my desk in study hall. The desks in the room were split in half. There were six rows of three chairs facing the center of the class with the opposite side having the same amount of chairs and configuration. I sat in the front seat in one of the first rows by the door.


Across from me, in the front seat, was a young lady who always was really, really angry about something. She would curse, throw things, and scream how bad she wanted to whoop somebody’s, you know what. On top of that she was extremely vulgar. She was a prime candidate for the beauty is only skin deep cliche. The girl was gorgeous but her attitude was toxic.

Well this particular day she was at an all time high level of frustration. A girl she shared a locker with had done something so evil, so cruel, so deceitful that she had to be handled today. To quote her exactly would take this post from G to NC-17 by the MPAA. She reminded me of Muhammad Ali and the way he would talk before a major bout. “I’m gone hit you so hard you gone think it is two of me.”

It was going to be on.

Now normally I would always be excited to see a good fight but I had to work that evening. I choose money over entertainment. The next day, I was 15 minutes early to study hall to hear the details of what happened. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. I could hardly sleep that night. With the way she was talking about whooping that girl, I thought I would hear about it on the evening news.

I sat at my seat staring at the door waiting for the “aggressive one” to come in.


Oddly, she walked through the door with a huge smile on her face, which made me feel a little eerie. I thought to myself, “She killed her. I am turning her in. I knew she was crazy but murder.”  She sat down, moving slowly I guess from pains from the battle, and noticed me starring. There was nothing that would keep her from cussing me out and threatening my life in the past but today was different. Today she said, “Hello.”

I couldn’t wait any longer I had to ask. “What happened?”

She smiled at me gingerly and said, “That girl, you know the one I share a locker with, the small and cute little thing… Continue reading “She whooped my…..” »


Photo by Kim Jerbo


I can remember when I was a snotty nosed, rebellious, little kid and I enjoyed rolling around in the mud. Not only did I like the texture, sounds, and playdough like qualities but I loved the mess it made as well. I hope I wasn’t the only kid in the world that loved mud. As much fun as I had diving and rolling on mound after mound of mud, sliding across mud puddles like they were a slip and slide and making great mud civilizations, my poor mother was the one who was left on clean up duty. The more fun I had the greater the mess I made.


The more fun I had the harder the clean up job became. The task of washing mud out of clothes is tedious. The individual items must first be rinsed out just to try to remove all traces of dirt and debris. Mud also has a tendency to get into seams and the only way it can be removed is to scrub. Grass and mud combined made super stains that had to be pre-treated with detergent.

There is only one thing that is harder to clean than mud out of clothes and that is dried mud. Not only does it make clothes items into statue-like pieces of art but it can also be excruciating to remove from exposed skin.

It hurts to get rid of the mess. Hours after the fun was over you could still see it on me. Everywhere I went I left a trail behind. The trail I left usually lead discipline right to my hiding spot. I thought I was slick thinking after pulling off the greatest mud stunts of all time that I could never get caught. Word to the wise, when you jump in the mud don’t be surprised if you get dirty. Saying I fell only works the first few times.


As a kid I liked mud. Now as I have grown older I realized adults do to, we just call it a different name. Many people today call it “drama.” So you may not like to dive face first into a wet, dirty, pile of mud but we find a way to get real messy in some of the situations we put ourselves into. I will let you apply this where it fits in your own life.

Instead of starting the uncomfortable process of cleaning up our mess we hide behind the dirt on our face. I want to be remembered for the positive things I have done not by the mess I made and left behind.

Getting the mess out of your life is not going to be an easy process. It will take time, effort and skill. In all honestly it is going to hurt. Some of the mess can be rinsed out, some will need to be scrubbed, some will need to be pre-treated and removed later. The only way to get clean is to stop playing in the mud and start washing.

Man I have a big load to clean.

Well, What Can I Say?

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