Thinking for a CHANGE 2006

As you read through this issue you will find a few links to nowhere. If this is the kind of thing that drives you nuts, e-mailChrisand she will try to find the missing resource for you.

December 20
Last night I sat in the driveway to hear the end of an interview on NPR's All Things Considered. Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ was reflecting on the advice he received from a voter, Miss Jones, who told him, "If you're one of those people who sees light and hope, then you can make change." I'm glad I braved the dark and cold of a Northern Wisconsin December night because that statement will live in my heart for all of 2007. I'm suggesting you might want to remember it also. 2007 - a year of light, hope, and change. Works for me!

December 13
I use my flying time wisely; I read. Last month, NWA World Traveler magazine had an interview with the legendary actress Ellen Burstyn who said, "I think the gift of life is just a miracle, and I don't see any reason not to be grateful for it." As we race into the holiday season, I believe that's a sentence worth remembering. May 2006 end in a spirit of gratitude for you and those you love.

December 6
After last week's debacle over my five-years late reporting of George Harrison's death, I am reminded of that wonderful quote, "Failure isn't falling down, it's refusing to get up." So, when my embarrassment allowed me to consider not sending a message this week, I figured this was a change message I needed to get myself! So, when Miriam sends it out Wednesday night I'll be printing this one out and hanging it next to my desk!

P.S. Thanks to all of you who, in good humor, wrote to highlight my error and laugh at our correction last week. It's great to have friends like all of you.

P.P.S. Special thanks to the subscriber who caught the inside joke of the I Blew It card sales line on the correction email!

November 29 Part One
George Harrison died today at 58; only 2 Beatles left. Some changes aren't easy to look at positively. This is one of them. As I heard the news, all I could think of was Harrison's song, "All Things Must Pass." Evidently that phrase even applies to cultural icons. I'm going to listen to some Beatles music tonight. Let It Be...

November 29 Part Two
When you listen to All Things Considered while making dinner for two of your grandchildren, you just might hear what you believe to be breaking news rather than a replay of a five-year old broadcast. You might then compose a heart-felt message, send it to your editor who is touched by your eloquence, and who then promptly sends your misinformation to 5,000 of your most understanding readers. Then you'd sit back, slightly proud of your night's work. Until, that is, one of your more informed readers sends said editor an email wondering just what you were thinking. Thanks to S.J. Christensen for the opportunity to craft and send out Change Part Two for November 29, 2006, the 5th Anniversary of George Harrison's death. Ah, the dangers of multi-tasking.

November 15
Recently my daughter, Miriam, accused me of going overboard about Starbucks. I've tried to explain that my Grande Breve Latte isn't essential for my happiness, but it's the Starbuck's experience that keeps me coming back. Now there's even another element that draws me across town or into the next terminal seeking the familiar green mermaid sign - the stories on the cups. The Way I See It #154 was by Goapele, a musician on Starbuck XM radio. "Big things start small. Rather than getting overwhelmed with the thought of changing the world, there are small steps we can all take in our own lives and communities that can have real impact. Music is just one way of making change. What will you choose?" Hum a tune while you decide on your next, important, small step.

November 8
In an interview in USA Today, Johnny Depp (Don't you love his Jack Sparrow?) said, "If you don't sort of tread in the arena of fear, you won't move forward somehow." Words to remember when you are faced with change that makes the pit of your stomach quiver. There is a connection between conquering fear, doing something new, and forward movement. Or maybe you need to reflect on the flip side - there is a connection between being frozen by fear, doing the same old thing, and stagnation. From either perspective, there's a lesson in there.

November 1,
Last weekend was a wonderful mix of family, friends, and food. After our long Sunday Brunch, I was reminded of a quote I collected from a menu at Houlihans, "A meal is a whole lot more than food on a fork." There's been much media attention lately on the importance of children having meals as a family. To hear them tell it, if you all sit down at the table together and eat, grades will go up, behaviors will improve, and peace will reign in the family home. Don't think me cynical, but I'm afraid that the emphasis comes off on the food and forks rather than what happens when people sit at a table together - conversation and connectedness. Maybe there's a meal-time change in your future?

October 25
Never in my life did I think I'd be quoting Jerry Springer, especially to 5,000 plus people, but here I go. In a USA Today article about his run on Dancing With the Stars, Springer said, "Life is the only real dance. And you don't always get to choose your tune." My guess is that you could figure out why those sentences caught my attention without much of a comment from me, but I can't resist at least a few words. The next time life gives you a song you'd rather not dance to, sing one you do like - loudly - and dance to that one!

October 18
I've been lucky and have gotten a sneak peek of a just published book, Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: How Organizations Use Stories to Drive Results edited by Lori L. Silverman. Many of you know about my love of stories, so I'm always thrilled to find a new place to learn about their impact, especially when there's a whole chapter devoted to CHANGE! Reading it, I found this to share with you. Leslie J. Berkes, Ph.D., director of Organizational Effectiveness said, "The meeting had to yield positive stories - every time you fail during a change effort you make the future possibility for change less likely." Made me wonder about the stories we choose to tell about our changes. What are the positive change stories you do, or could, tell?

P.S. Check the book out at They're offering some cool bonuses this week.

October 11
One of the things I like about Wednesdays is that the Life Section of USAToday carries Craig Wilson's The Final Word column. Last week's was about his brush with what he thought might be a heart attack and the subsequent trip to the hospital. While there he reflected on a comment by Anna Quindlen who said, "True success is getting up in the morning and realizing you have a very good life." Not a bad to thing to think about even without a trip to the hospital.

October 4
My desk is a mess! It's been a mess for a long time. I talk about it being a mess a lot. I resolve to get it organized every Monday. And every Friday. Recently I read Ben Buckley's thought, "The only way things change is when you start to do something." I hate knowing that!

We're only three days away from the JDRF Walk for the Cure in Stevens Point, WI and thanks to your generosity, we've collected $835.00. But there's still time if you want to help. Here's the way you can donate to fund the work that we're certain will find the cure for Type 1 diabetes.

If you would like to help us help Quinn, log on to and make a donation to Team Q on-line.

1. Click this link:

2. Scroll down to the "Support a Walker" section

3. Fill in the "Support a Walker" boxes as follows - Last Name: Clarke, State: WI

4. Choose a walker - either Chris or Quinn

5. Choose the "Donate to this Walker" button, and you're on your way to supporting a great cause.

All donations are tax-deductible, but more importantly, even the smallest donation brings research one step closer to finding a cure.

The thought that if each of the over 5,000 of you who read this eletter donated $5.00 to this walk we'd be adding over $25,000.00 to the research fund - well, it takes my breath away!

Thanks for your consideration!


September 27
A dear friend, wonderful speaker, hospital Chairman of the Board, and terrific grandfather, Rick Jakle, sent me a quote from the end of an email he received from a financier. "Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future... Faith is having the courage to dance to it today." It came at the time our family is preparing for our annual participation in the JDRF Walk for the Cure. Since our oldest grandson, Quinn, has juvenile diabetes our music of the future is a cure and we dance to that music faithfully everyday.

Because I believe with my whole heart that a cure is possible , my family and I will be joining others in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Saturday, October 7th for the 2nd Annual Central Wisconsin JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Walk to Cure Diabetes. We believe we can help raise enough money to fund the research to find the cure for juvenile diabetes and enable my grandboy, Quinn, to live his life free of finger pokes for blood sugar tests, lots of doctor appointments, and his I-only-take-it-off-for-football-and-soccer insulin pump. If you're in the neighborhood - join us!

A Once a Year Request: A very rare request for a donation ahead...feel free to ignore!

If you would like to help us help Quinn, log on to and make a donation to Team Q on-line.

1. Click this link:

2. Scroll down to the "Support a Walker" section

3. Fill in the "Support a Walker" boxes as follows - Last Name: Clarke, State: WI

4. Choose a walker - either Chris or Quinn

5. Choose the "Donate to this Walker" button, and you're on your way to supporting a great cause.

All donations are tax-deductible, but more importantly, even the smallest donation brings research one step closer to finding a cure.

The thought that if each of the over 5,000 of you who read this eletter donated $5.00 to this walk we'd be adding over $25,000.00 to the research fund - well, it takes my breath away!

Thanks for your consideration!


September 20
At this summer's annual convention of the National Speakers Association, I went to a session on blogging. Oh, learning is a dangerous thing. Just about every time you learn something new, you have to change - a behavior, a thought process, or an action. I had to change my blog host.

So, after finally feeling pretty comfortable with the process at my first blogging host, I spent several days learning a new system. Check out the newest version at I hope you'll link over there, see what I've written, and subscribe. I'm publicly promising to discipline myself to post more often and to keep learning about blogging. Any suggestions or tips from you will be eagerly read.

September 6
I was reading a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki - but don't ask me what it was about, I only tore out and kept the part that contained this line, "...but real meaning emerges only over the long term." This line caught my attention because we often forget this truth when we're dealing with change. It would be so much easier if the results of change were always immediate. Decide to eat less, wake up tomorrow 10 pounds lighter. Who wouldn't be able to stick to a diet if that happened? But real change emerges only over the long term. I'm certain the rest of Surowiecki's article was significant, but this line is enough for me to think about for the rest of the week.

August 30
Talk about change. Pluto isn't a planet any more! No big deal, except, of course, that sentence we all learned, "My very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas" doesn't work anymore and we spent so much time remembering it so we could be smart in front of our kids and grandchildren as we rattled off the names of the planets. That's the problem with change - one change forces us to start another. Fortunately, this time The Associated Press decided to put adults out of their misery quickly. Out of their six suggestions, I picked this one: My Very Extravagant Mother Just Sent Us Nachos. Not too much new to absorb so when Quinn does planets this year in First Grade, I should be okay.

P.S. As long time readers of this eletter know, I don't do this often or lightly, but there's a book I'd like you to check out. My friend, Sam Horn's newest book will be released on Sept. 5th. POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd is being heralded as the next Tipping Point-like book - one that will change a reader's thinking forever. I've read it, worked with Sam's ideas, and they're terrific, practical, and fun. Check Sam and her book out at and if it looks like it could help you and your business/organization, order your copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite local bookstore. I guarantee you'll be glad you did!

August 23
At a recent program, there was a panel discussion before my presentation. In a burst of honesty, one of the panel members said, "I don't know if I have an ultimately positive attitude, but I do have an open mind." First, I applaud her willingness to admit that her attitude might need some work - don't we all have days when that's true! But mostly, I want to thank her for helping me see that working toward an open mind trumps trying to fix a bad attitude just about all the time. Next time you're faced with a change, before you check your attitude, look to see if your mind is open to the new possibilities.

August 17
I bet there was something new you told yourself you were going to do this summer and here it is almost first-day-of-school and you haven't. Don't think you'll have to put it off till next summer because there's not enough time to get good at it now. Murray Cohen reminds us, "The ark was built by amateurs and the Titanic by experts." Why not try something without the expertise you were going to develop so you wouldn't appear foolish or silly. Be an amateur at something between now and Labor Day, I dare you!

August 9
One of Miriam's favorite speakers, Rita Emmett, has a monthly eletter called THE ANTICRASTINATION TIP SHEET (to subscribe send a blank email to: with the word "subscribe" in the subject line or visit to see some sample issues).

The August edition starts with Anna Quindlen's words of wisdom, "I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." How could I disagree since both of my children have houses full of books. So many people fool themselves into thinking that they don't have time to read. Like so much in life, time allocation is choice. How about buying a book for the child in you and reading this weekend?

August 2
Talking to my mother as I drove south yesterday I was reminded of a comment by my favorite Episcopal priest, Robert Winter. Fr. Winter said, "Love is a verb, not a noun." Love isn't about saying, although there's nothing wrong with nice words - lovingly delivered, love is about doing. I bet all of us have a person in our lives who would benefit from our doing.

P.S. If you read to the end of last's weeks message you found the note from Miriam, my daughter, who manages the process behind these messages, explaining that she wrote it because I was at the National Speakers Association Annual Conference. Talk about love as doing! Thanks, Miriam. (You're welcome! -M)

July 26
I don't know in what context Abraham Lincoln said, "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax," but I imagine it was because he was faced with a tremendous task to be accomplished under deadline. And he understood that time spent in preparation is not time wasted, it's time spent towards accomplishing your goal. Lincoln was pretty good at seeing the big picture, and I, for one, trust his opinion.

July 19
As a recent audience taught me, no matter how people feel about the Dixie Chicks politically, they're mostly willing to agree that these women can write good music. On their current album, Taking the Long Way, there is a song called, I Hope. One of the lines struck a chord with me. "I may not have all the answers, but I hope." I feel exactly the same way. I refuse to let anyone or anything take away my hope for the future. I am a grandmother, you know.

July 12
Summer conjures up memories of childhood - long afternoons with nothing but time, swimming and sunburn, and lemonade stands that generate money for the ice cream truck. According to Abraham Sutzkever, "If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older." So, here's an idea. Take an hour this week and do something that is absolutely summer as a child for you. You'll be better for it!

July 5
Yesterday's edition of the advice column Annie's Mailbox contained this quote from Albert Einstein, "Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." No matter how confining your work might seem, we all have much more personal freedom to be creative than we realize. Open your eyes to the possibilities!

June 28
I was reading Watercooler Wisdom by Keith Barley and Karen Leland and in the chapters about change found something to share with you. "Smart people know the secret to a successful stretch is finding a deeply personal motivating factor." This summer might be a perfect time for you to pick one thing that you've been meaning to change for a long time, dig deep for a reason to do it, and stretch. You might just surprise yourself at how limber you can get.

June 21
Imagine my surprise when, while walking down an aisle in Barnes and Noble, I saw a line of notepads festooned with change comments on their covers. The one that caught my eye enough to carry it to the checkout counter said, "Life without change is boring." Think about it. At what moment in your life would you choose to freeze frame and say, "I don't want anything different for the rest of my life!"? Sure, for a short time we all have times that approach I-like-it-just-the-way-it-is perfection, but forever? Life without change would be boring! As Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann used to say, "And that's the truth!" (You add the raspberries.)

P.S. Speaking of Lily Tomlin...If you're a Prairie Home Companion fan, don't miss the currently running movie, A Prairie Home Companion. Frank and I had date night last Friday, saw it, and now are eagerly awaiting the DVD so we can watch it again and catch the lines we missed while laughing!

June 14
Watching an old episode of The Golden Girls I heard Dorothy say to Rose, "If you take a chance in life sometimes good things happen and sometimes bad things happen. If you don't take a chance nothing happens." If you're not willing to change, there is no possibility of improvement! The Girls shared a lot of wisdom in their kitchen sharing a cheesecake.

June 7
A day like today in Northern Wisconsin is perfect for a motorcycle ride. (If, that is, you wanted to go for a motorcycle ride.) And if you're going to ride a motorcycle in Wisconsin, it ought to be a Harley. I've never actually had the urge, although my son Paul did take me for a ride once on his - long story, short ride. My friend Marilynn Mobley (check out her wonderful blog sent me a quote from the Harley CEO and for the first time I understood the change from car to cycle. "What we sell," he said,"is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather and ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him."

May 31
A Thinking for a Change reader, Suzanne Keely from the American Society for Quality, sent me this line from Wayne Dyer's recent book, The Power of Intention. "Change the way you look at things and things you look at change." Pay attention to Dyer's theory this week and you'll see just how true it is. Thanks Suzanne!

May 24
Making plans for the summer? You might want to factor in the musings of Elbert Hubbard. "No man needs a vacation as much as the one who just had one." Grin if you like, but he is right!

May 17
So, do you envision me walking around with little pieces of paper in my pockets with quotes scribbled on them? Close! Sometimes I find the quotes but can't remember where they came from. This is one of those. In an unknown venue I heard Zbigniew Brzezinski say, "Uncertainty is not a reason for inaction." Something to think about when a change is started.

May 10
In his book, The Learning Paradox, Jim Harris said, "We significantly underestimate the amount of time and effort required to change." Rather than finding that depressing I find it hopeful. A realistic concept of difficultly avoids discouragement and supports sustained effort. Maybe this quote needs to be posted somewhere in your workplace.

May 3
Doing some research for a program recently I ran across this quote from Rob Reich, a college professor. "Change must come from within even when spurred on from the outside." If more organizations figured that out, I'd be out of business. Change is always emotional and ultimately personal. No wonder people find it tough to change and change initiatives fail.

April 26
I have admired Kenny Roger's work for many years. He has re-invented himself time after time, thus ensuring his constant success in the highly fickle music industry. During an interview on CBS Sunday Morning he said, "I think it's emotionally very dangerous to not have something else you're passionate about." People who master change search for and nurture their passions. What are you going to do this summer to develop a new passion?

April 19
Miriam, who makes these messages appear in your inbox each week, called me with the following quote by Wendy Smedley in Simple Scrapbooks magazine.

"According to the gurus at Home Depot, the majority of home improvement projects are abandoned when they're 90 percent complete. By this time, homeowners frequently are fed up with their projects and anxious to move on. That unfinished 10 percent, however, typically comprises the finishing touches that make the project took polished and professional."

Is this behavior you recognize in your self? Are you leaving some 10% finishing work undone that makes people view you as less polished and professional than you really are? Are you willing to challenge yourself to change?

April 12
In Robert Penn Warren's All the Kings Men, Warren wrote, "If you don't go back and accept your past, you can't go forward." I believe that applies to change as well as life. Change that moves you forward can't happen unless you understand what shaped you in the past.

April 5
Thinking for a Change reader Lianne Van Wyhe sent me this quote from Sarah Ban Breathnach. "Lasting change does not happen overnight. Lasting change happens in infinitesimal increments: a day, an hour, a minute, a heartbeat at a time." In a society that increasingly expects instant everything, this is a quote worth remembering! Thanks from us all, Lianne!

March 29
"Why is it that the simplest plans are sometimes the hardest to do?" wrote Laurell K. Hamilton in one of her off-beat mysteries. All of my unfinished to-do lists reinforce her insight. Action is always the hard part of the change equation.

March 22
This quotation might be worth thinking about if you need to move a group into change. Margaret J. Wheatley said, "Real change begins with the simple act of people talking about what they care about." A smart first step could be a time and place for the group to gather and begin a dialogue about what would be important outcomes for their change initiative. You might be surprised how people will take ownership and how excitement could build!

March 16
I love watching the CBS Sunday Morning news show. This last Sunday it contained an interview with Steve Winwood about his 40 year musical career. At the very end of the interview, the reporter asked about Winwood's obsession with music. Winwood replied, "I suppose the thing that very first started to drive me when I was 13 or 12 or 9 (was) a love of music, and I enjoy playing it. I'm discovering more about music all the time." The reporter observed, "It almost sounds like he couldn't stop if he wanted to." "I don't think so," Winwood responded.

What about what you do for a living? Is it your obsession? Was it your obsession at one time? What will you be saying about your work after 40 years? If you don't have a Steve Winwood connection to your work, could it be time for a change? Just asking!

March 8
Jessica Andreae, CPA, ARM, at Sentry Insurance reminded me that children - including her 6 year old daughter - and the young at heart, all over the world are celebrating Dr. Seuss' Birthday. I bet you didn't know he was an expert on change! Here's the excerpt she shared from Green Eggs & Ham.

"Try it." - "No."
"Try it." - "No."
"Try it this way, how about that way, what about this way?" - "No. No. No."
And so it goes. On and on
"OK, fine. To shut you up, I will try it. Hey! I like it! Thanks so much!"

Thanks Jessica and Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 1
Next time you go into a Starbucks and order, read your cup before you throw it away. Each cup has a The Way I See It essay. Last week I got cup #76 and thought of you. Anne Morriss, a Starbucks' customer in New York City wrote, "The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as a rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as a barrier to your life." How could a real commitment make a difference in one of your changes?

February 22
Maybe you've been working really hard on a change and NO ONE'S NOTICED! Mark Twain has an idea perfect for this situation. "When you cannot get a compliment in any other way, pay yourself one." So, duck into the bathroom - face yourself in the mirror - and give yourself a big pat on the back. (If I were there with you, I'd give you the pat myself!)

February 15
I was reading an essay by Ellen Goodman and perked up when I read, "The most powerful catalyst for change, sociologists will tell you, is when people learn what they already know." What do you already know about a change you need to initiate? Since you know it, why not get to work on it?

February 8
Okay, let's be honest. There's a change somewhere in your life - maybe work, maybe home - and you're thinking if you just hold on maybe it will go away. It's not that you're not participating, you're just not participating at 100% You really should consider what Hsun Tzu said. "The person attempting to travel two roads at once will get nowhere." There is a time when you simply have to pick a road!

February 1
This week we mourn the passing of Coretta Scott, who's life as a talented music student certainly changed when she met, loved, and married Martin Luther King, Jr. In a CNN interview, the Reverend Al Sharpton quoted Mrs. King as saying, "One of the things you must do is change yourself if you want to lead others through change." An important thought to ponder as we remember a legend of significant change in the United States.

January 25
Be honest - if there's a change you've been resisting, ask yourself how much time you have spent learning the reasons behind it. Or, did you hear about the change, decide you didn't like it, and put up the wall? Andre Gide suggest that, "Understanding is the beginning of approving." Maybe more understanding could turn your resistance into support.

January 18
I am part of a Mastermind group; we call ourselves The Seven Sisters. One of the sisters, and noted writer, Sam Horn (keep her newest book POP! in mind - I'll let you know the release date because you'll want to buy it) reminded me of Gail Sheehy's wisdom. "Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one's own unnecessary vegetation." Sometimes because we focus on how hard it is to change, we forget that it is not changing that is dangerous both personally and professionally. Look around, make sure there isn't a change you're denying!

P.S. Thanks to all of you who sent me a Lightbulb joke or pointed me to a website...who knew there are a million of them! I've been giggling all week.

January 11
Rosabeth Moss Kanter said, "To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings." I couldn't agree more. A new idea sparks energy, excitement, and even more creativity. Our next idea at Chris Clarke-Epstein SPEAKING! is We're putting together new programs, a new website, and line of ancillary products all focused on the impact of change on our personal and professional lives. We'll keep you posted as this change unfolds.

Right now you can help us get started. Our icon is going to be a lightbulb and we're looking to collect lightbulb jokes. You know,
Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

Want to be part of this change? Send your favorite lightbulb joke to me and I'll be eternally grateful!

January 4
Here we go again - asking each other about New Year's Resolutions. 9 times out of 10 the response has to do with less food or more exercise. Don't get me wrong, either of them make fine resolutions. I'm just not certain they're anything but a knee-jerk response to a canned question. Erica Jong had a thought when she said, "And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more." Maybe this is the year to resolve BIG!

Want more insights about change? Check out Chris' new blog

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