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Why Not Being a “Natural” Can Be to Your Advantage

Have you ever wished that you could Speak Like a Pro?

Have you ever wished that you had the confidence and competence to stand before a group of any size and get your product or service or message out into the world so you could make a bigger impact?

Have you ever wished that somebody would just shorten the learning curve for you? Make learning easier? I certainly have.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in over 30 years in the speaking, training and coaching business, it’s this:

The saying:

When it comes to success, there are no shortcuts.

Mastery takes the right mindset and a willingness to work.

My son came to hear me speak a few years ago – it might have been for the first time. I’ve been at this for over 30 years now.  Afterwards we headed back over to the house.  We were sitting on the screened in porch and out of the blue he said, “Mom, I thought you were amazing today.  You make speaking look so easy. Like anybody could do it.

But I knew something sitting there that none of those other people knew.  I knew all the days and weeks and months and years you have spent learning, preparing, practicing, honing …. And what I’ve learned from you is if you want something badly enough you’ve to be willing to work to get it.  And I think that that’s one of the best things a kid can learn from a parent.

Wow! Talk about being overwhelmed by a comment.

But it’s true, isn’t it?  Becoming excellent takes work…and if you’re not one of the most skilled persons right now, but you’re willing to learn and hone your skills, you might just be in a better place than someone we’d call the “natural.” Believe me when I tell you that there’s a good reason why I say that, and I’m going to be speaking about that and MORE at my Learn to Speak Like a Pro Live Event on June 21 – 23.

If your desire is to make a bigger impact – play on a larger playing field – I want to be your teacher, your mentor, your guide—the person I wish I had had starting out as an entrepreneur.  I want to help you get your product or service out into the world – get your message heard – get the work you want – able to influence people and make a real impact. I want to do this for you because being able to give to someone else what I wish I’d have had starting out makes my heart sing!!!

I’ve worked hard, and I know what it takes….but what I don’t know, and would like to know, is what is it that could be standing in your way of stepping up and doing the work that will put you in a position to confidently say YES when the opportunity to stand up and speak out appears?

I’d love your feedback! Won’t you comment below, and I’ll share when possible to help you get results faster.

In every situation, let’s all #Learn to Speak Like a Pro!

See you later!

PS  For a FREE GIFT that will help you on your journey to Speak Like a Pro,  click here.


Contact Mary Jane Mapes

Contact Mary Jane Mapes to Speak

Nothing is stopping you from Speaking Mastery but you – and what you don’t know.

Is there something stopping you from developing speaking mastery – either on the platform or off?

If you answered yes, you are not alone.

Over the years I’ve had both private clients and organizations come to me for help with all kinds of issues, most of which center around the inability to influence at the desired level. And I suspicion that they call me at the point at which they recognize potential loss.

Robert Cialdini, author of several books on Influence, wrote this:

“The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”


And I believe that it’s when people consider the thought of potential loss that they are motivated to call for help.

Here are just a few of the many things I’m told by those who call.

Someone said to me: I’m head of a 9 region area and hold quarterly meetings. I know my stuff…I come prepared…and yet I feel as though I just can’t make an impact.  In fact, sometimes, I can’t even get the attention of the group I’m supposed to be leading, let alone hold their attention.

Clearly, that person was having a problem getting noticed….being heard…even feeling visible.

Others have said to me, “You know, I’m good at what I do, but when I go into an interview or am in a sales call, and they start asking me questions, everything just seems to fall apart. My mind starts racing or I get a mental block, and it’s all down- hill from there.”

I’ve even had people say, “I’m great at speaking before groups!  I get people excited – the energy in the room is pumping – the applause is great – but then I never get called back – and I don’t know why.”

Over the past 30 years, I’ve had all kinds of people come to me – smart, amazing, well educated people – come to me and say, “I need help.  I’m the head honcho in the room and yet for the first 20 minutes I get treated like the one who should fetch the coffee and donuts. I don’t know where I need help, but I need something.”

At one conference I had a woman approach me and say, “I want a promotion I think should be mine, but I’m afraid that my hair might be holding me back.” Her hair?

Personally, I didn’t see a thing wrong with her hair other than it was red and curly…and quite beautiful, really.

I wrote a book a couple years ago where I interviewed some amazing leaders – one was Dr. Ruth Shaw – former CEO of Duke Energy… one of the largest utilities in the US and one of the Top 10 Utilities in the world. One of the funniest stories she told me was about a job interview she went on early in her career. She was interviewing for a dean’s job at a college – VP of Academics. She said, “Friends told me I needed to look older, needed to look older, needed to look older, so believe me, by the time I got there I was MUCH OLDER.”  She told me she’d pinned down her wild Strawberry Blonde hair in a bun, wore a very frumpy suit and carried an umbrella.

She got the job but, in her case, her appearance had nothing to do with it.  She didn’t fool anyone.  Who she WAS simply shined through. On the way out of the interview, the man who had  interviewed her said,  “Tell me, do you always dress that way?”  She said, “Well, no, as a matter of fact, I don’t.”  He said, “Well, you never need to do it again on my account.”

She said it was a wonderful lesson on being yourself.

Sometimes people just don’t know what it means to be themselves.  Or they don’t recognize their own strengths –  nor do they know the little things that are standing in their way. They don’t know what’s stopping them from being their most influential, either on the platform or off.

I love helping people discover what’s getting in their way, and then help them make the changes that are needed.

To prepare for the launch of my Learn to Speak Like a Pro Speaking Mastery Retreat on June 21 – 23, I’d love to know what you think is getting in your way?

What’s holding you back from making the kind of impact you’d like to make?

What’s holding you back from developing irresistible influential?

What’s holding you back from commanding the fees you believe you deserve for your product or service or message?

Let me know and I’ll share some insights you might find helpful. Please…make your comments below.

If you’re tired of putting off and are ready to say yes to investing in yourself, then register today at …. and I’ll see you in June!

See you again next week!





 MJ speaking for newsletterWhat Opportunities Are You Missing to Speak Up?

Missed opportunities of the past need not block those right in front of you.

Have you missed out on golden opportunities? Have you ever wished that you could turn back the clock and say YES to an opportunity that was staring you right in the face, but, for whatever reason, you let it slip by?

Have you ever kicked yourself because you didn’t take action?

I was reading a book recently that talked about missed opportunities. That reminded me of a missed opportunity of my own shortly after I had graduated from high school. Unfortunately,

“We’ve all got a black book of missed opportunities.” ~ Jim Broadbent


I was visiting in California and had the opportunity to meet a man by the name of Ralph Portner. Mr. Portner was the voice behind the television musical variety show – the Lawrence Welk Show.  He was the announcer for all Mr. Welk’s radio and television shows….from the early 1940’s through to the early 80’s. During our conversation, I shared with him that I’d just gotten my 3rd class radio license, and that I’d be spinning records on a little radio station WLRC in Whitehall, MI that summer.

He asked about my radio handle – I had none.  He suggested that I use MJ your Private DJ. He asked how I planned to close out my show each day. I had no plan.

He suggested that I’d close out the show with a quote from a book of quotes that he’d send me. He said, “It will sound like this:  This is MJ, your private DJ, signing off with a word of wisdom. Then share the quote.”

He kept his promise; he sent the book, Words of Wisdom, which I have to this day. But then he went way beyond that to encourage me.

Whether he was in Reno or Lake Tahoe or LA – wherever the Lawrence Welk Band was playing at the time – he’d send me a postcard to encourage.

And because I was so afraid that he’d find some flaw in my writing and change his mind about what he thought I was capable of doing, I never wrote back.  Mr. Portner finally stopped writing.

Here was a top radio / television talent doing his best to help me, and out of fear that he’d find me lacking, I completely missed a golden opportunity.

I don’t want that to happen to you.

I want you to become as influential as you desire. To make the kind of impact you want to make.

If you’re an entrepreneur or a thought leader, someone who wants to leverage your passion, your personality, and your presence – play bigger – and let your voice be heard, I want to help you.

I want you to get the job you desire.

…the promotion you desire.

…the sale you desire

….whatever it takes in the way of communication for you to be successful.

Which is why I have created Learn to Speak Like a Pro Speaking Mastery Retreat.

I’d love your feedback.  What opportunities have you missed because you didn’t speak up, because you didn’t speak out, because you were afraid you’d sound stupid or uneducated or disorganized or whatever?  I’d love to hear from you.

So write in the comment section below and tell me–what opportunities have you missed because you were afraid to let your voice be heard?  I’d love to hear your feedback, and share some ways that will help you get better results, too.

Don’t let another opportunity slip through your fingers. Let’s make today the day you — Unleash your Potential! Ignite Greatness!   Become Unstoppable!

Check out: Learn to Speak Like a Pro Speaking Mastery Retreat

MJ good action shot

Want to Speak Like a Pro?

Attractiveness is being comfortable and confident in your own skin.

Whenever I speak, the number one question I get asked often when I speak:

Mary Jane, how’d you get so comfortable speaking before thousands of people? What makes you love the speaking profession so much?  How’d you get to be named a Legend of the Speaking Profession?

It’s common knowledge that not everyone likes to stand up and speak. Not everyone likes to even speak up at a meeting. Some people tell me that they don’t ever want to be the center of attention. But, of course, what they also realize at some level is that there are definite benefits to being able to speak with confidence and clarity—and perhaps a bit of charisma.

They recognize that being able to stand up and speak out with confidence is the very thing that helps people get noticed, move ahead in their career, get the sale, do well in interviews, and get their message out to larger numbers of people.


So people want to know – How did I get comfortable?

After speaking at literally thousands of events across the country, it’s just what I do. But that wasn’t always the case.

In my  youth, I was one of five finalists in the Miss Michigan Pageant – and totally blew my question. The most humiliating moment in my life. And I was determined that that would never happen to me again.

When I went away to college, I took every course that would force me to stand before others and speak. And it was during those college years that, from those ashes of defeat, I actually found what would become my life’s calling.

When the opportunity came up seventeen years later to teach a group of doctors, managers, and consultants to speak, I jumped at the chance.

And the rest is history.

It’s not always been easy, and it did take a considerable amount of work. But it’s always been something I’ve loved doing once I learned HOW to do it and put in hundreds of hours of practice. It’s always been a learning experience. And I’ve always loved working with my clients. Helping them is what brings joy to my life.

I’ll be speaking about what it takes to become comfortable being uncomfortable while the knowledge and skills are being learned and honed – along with a whole lot more – at our Learn to Speak Like a Pro Speaking Mastery Retreat.

Here are my questions for you:

What do you love about speaking? Or, what is it that scares you? What questions do you have for me? I’d love to hear your feedback, and share some ways that will help you can get better results, too. Please send my your comments and I’ll see what I can do to send out a response to you.

In the meantime, check out my FREE GIFT to you:  Speaking Pros – How They Get Booked Using a Proven 4-Step Formula. Just click here.





Priming YourselfOn what do you prime yourself? It matters…really.

When my son was in high school, I found I needed to pay close attention to his choice of music. He loved anything hip hop, and while much hip hop music is benign, I noticed that when it spilled over into rap, it seemed to have a harder edge and contained more hardcore lyrics I didn’t want influencing my son.

Psychologists report that what you watch, listen to, and read (and even the conversations you engage in, I might add), have a direct impact on your mood, temper, and behavior, even how kind or cruel you might be.

Like certain foods, your mental diet can significantly affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically for better or for worse.

For example, when I was a young woman with two small children at home, both my kids would nap at the same time every afternoon. During that time, I’d take advantage of the quiet and read. A good friend of mine gave me my very first romance novel – I think it was called The Flower and the Flame. After that came a host of others of the same genre.

One day my husband came home unexpectedly while the children were napping, and I was reading one of those romance novels. I recall looking at my husband and thinking, “Well, he certainly doesn’t look like Fabio. And he doesn’t speak to me like Fabio speaks to his woman.”

In case you’re not familiar with Fabio, he is the Italian-born, American-naturalized fashion model of masculine virility who appeared on the cover of dozens of romance novels at the time. His face and physique became the image of the book’s male lead character – at least for me it did.

Looking at my husband that day, I remember feeling a mild disappointment that he didn’t look more like Fabio. That was the moment I knew the books had to go! Who could compete with that tanned, air-brushed body exuding unparalleled strength and sensuality?  Certainly, no one I knew. But with that awareness came the realization of the potential negative impact those novels could have. That is truly when I switched to reading medical examiner crime novels. Don’t laugh.

A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology discovered that a boost in moods and happiness could be experienced in just two weeks by listening to upbeat music. And the best part? The happier people are, the better their health, their relationships, and their overall level of success.

Studies done by NY University professor and psychologist, John Bargh, also pointed to the impact that words on the printed page have on a person’s behavior. He found that when his research subjects were exposed to positive words, they seemed more patient and less likely to interrupt others, while those exposed to negative words seemed less patient and more willing to interrupt rather quickly.

We prime ourselves every day by what we subject ourselves to – what we read, listen to, or watch. We aren’t just priming ourselves emotionally, but relationally. Therefore, if you want better relationships, doesn’t it stand to reason you should be priming yourself daily with the positive.

How can you prime yourself? How can you “pig out” on the good stuff? Here are just a few things you may wish to practice:

  • Every morning when you get out of bed, find a positive affirmation that works for you. The one thing I say to myself every morning out loud and with energy is Psalm 118:24:  This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. That helps me prime myself to start the day off on a positive note, while reminding me that I get to choose the mood I will carry throughout the day.
  • Instead of flipping on the negative news commentary first thing in the morning, find something inspirational to read that will remind you to be the person you believe yourself to be. This will prime you to kick off your day with a heighten awareness of putting your best self forward in all situations.
  • Instead of engaging in office gossip or bad-mouthing of any kind, become someone who looks for the best in every person you meet and encourage that person in the most genuine way possible. This will prime you and the one you are encouraging.

WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR WORK RELATIONSHIPS?  Check out this awesome FREE training now! Click here.

As Pat Riley says, “If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.”

(c) 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.

Respond NegativelyDo You Respond Negatively?

A couple days ago I was on the inside lane of a four-lane street headed into town – two lanes in each direction, with lots of stops and starts. The traffic was heavy and the cars were travelling fairly close together.

Without notice, the young woman driving in the car ahead of me, switched lanes with a sharp turn into the path of a driver in the outside lane, barely missing his car.

Clearly furious, with hardly a moment to think, he laid on his horn while jerking his car into the inside lane, doing the same thing to me that she was guilty of. Only he then immediately cut sharply back in front of her car, coming inches from causing an accident.

I’d be less than honest if I didn’t tell you that my first thought was, “Jerk.” But my next thought was, “He’s so angry with her that he never even looked to see if there was another car in the left lane. He’s retaliating.” His actions based on, what appeared to be, an automatic negative response, could have ended in disaster for all of us. Fortunately, it hadn’t.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced anything like what I just described? Am guessing you have.

Most people react to a negative situation with negative thoughts, but not everyone acts on those thoughts in a negative way. They’ve trained themselves to think differently – and for good reason.

If you are one who typically responds negatively, are you truly aware of the consequences?

In the case of the driver mentioned, it could have resulted in an accident or, at worst, a fatality.

Most negative thoughts do not lead to death. But habitual negative thinking – unconscious negative thoughts – can lead to other maladies – like illness, chronic stress and depression, heart disease, poor relationships, job loss, energy loss – the list goes on.

A major key to good health, better relationships, job promotions, extra energy, greater joy, more peace, and an overall more successful life, is to get control of your thought life. Get control of your thought life and you get control of your life. As difficult as it may seem, it’s totally possible. It just takes a desire to become more aware of what you’re  thinking at the time you’re thinking it, and make the decision to reframe your thoughts. Positive thoughts lead to positive behaviors, and that leads to more positive results.

If you have a tendency to respond negatively about anything and are ready to make a change, here are some helpful suggestions. Get yourself a journal or a spiral bound notebook and capture the following:

  • Identify an area in your life where you’d like to think more positively. Is it work? A relationship? Yourself? Life in general?
    • The moment you experience something that results in upset or disappointment or a letdown or any other negative thought, push pause. Think about your thinking. Then ask yourself: What just happened to trigger that negative internal reaction? What was I thinking? How did that thought impact how I am feeling?
    • Ask yourself: Will this thought get me where I want to go? Does it give me energy? Does it lead to peace? Does it enhance my own self esteem? Does this thought build up or tear down? Will it get me the outcome I desire?  If not, then ask yourself the next question.
    • What thought will? OR, given what IS, what positive thing can I do to move forward with greater energy and joy and productivity?

For example, many years ago I served on a board with a man whose personality I found offensive.  Needing his support to accomplish my goals, a more positive relationship was required. He wasn’t about to change so the change had to come from me. I made the decision that whenever I caught myself thinking negatively about him, I’d look for something good to say about him – focusing on his strengths, not his limitations. In other words, I’d reframe my thoughts and respond in a positive manner.

For example, one time we were in a meeting, and he started bragging about something he had done. Recognizing my irritation with him, I pushed pause and reframed on the spot. My reframe led me to say to him, “That’s what I like about you, Milton. You’re good at organization and implementation, and you’re not afraid to let others know of your strengths.”

All that was true. It just took me recognizing the truth in what he was saying as opposed to being irritated with, what seemed to me at the time, his bragging. As a result, he felt good about himself, he felt good about me, and, in truth, I felt better about me, too.

After years of making this change, our relationship evolved into friendship and advocacy for one another.

(If you’d like to go deeper into ways to transform your relationships, click here.)

  • Create a two-column chart. Consider those things you tend to think negatively about: yourself, another person, work, etc.
    • In the first column, write out what you tend to say when you talk to yourself.
    • In the 2nd column, write out a more positive response for each.
      For example:

Negative Thought                                  Reframed Thought.

She talks too much. She speaks with joy and adds positive energy to any discussion.
We just don’t have the resources to do the job. If we’re resourceful, we just might find a solution we’ve never considered before.
No one ever tells me. I’ll ask for what I want and provide the best way to notify me.

Whenever you find yourself exaggerating the negative, filtering out the positive, blaming, complaining, anticipating the worst, or engaged in any other negative thought pattern, pause. Reframe with something that allows you to move forward with positive energy.  You’ll accomplish more, be happier, find yourself smiling more often, experience more positive relationships, and like yourself better, too. And the best part?  Do this consistently and you’ll actually change your habits of thought.

As Norman Vincent Peale stated: “There is a basic law that like attracts like. Negative thinking definitely attracts negative results. Conversely, if a person habitually thinks optimistically and hopefully, his positive thinking sets in motion creative forces, and success, instead of eluding him, flows toward him.”

Discover the power to be found in your habits of thought and what you can do if you think negatively – you can get it by going here now.




Leader Primed for InfluenceAre you primed for influence?

How you are primed makes a difference.

What do John Kennedy, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan all have in common besides the fact that all are remembered as powerful leaders?

Answer: All were leaders whose words rocked the world, inspired millions, and helped change the course of history for generations to come. All were “primed for influence.”

Below is a quote from each that has had lasting influence:

“Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” – John Kennedy

“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank people will try to cheat you: Be honest anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you: Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway.” – Mother Teresa:

“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.” – Martin Luther King

“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war.” – Ronald Reagan’s words spoken to honor the Army Rangers who helped liberate Europe from Nazism

What is so special about the words of leaders primed for influence?

Words of leaders primed for influence express hope, right living, encouragement, and honor for self and others.

What about your words – words spoken by everyday leaders? You don’t need to be a world leader for your words to influence beyond anything you could think or imagine. Your words have the explosive power to imprint a life (your own and others) and change the course of one’s destiny, for better or for worse.

I remember years ago sitting in a program presented by Ron Willingham, author of the excellent book, Selling for the 21st Century. Ron shared with his audience a painful time from his childhood when making model wooden airplanes was all the rage. Ron, excited to try his hand at making one of his own. He painstakingly created a model airplane by gluing together dozens of pieces ever-so-carefully, piece by piece by piece, and then took it to show his parents. As he held out his “work of art” for his father to appreciate, his dad looked at the airplane and then looked at Ron’s mother and said, “Do you think he’ll ever learn to do anything right?”

Cut to the quick by his father’s words, Ron took his model wooden airplane to the burn barrel at the back of their home, tore it apart piece by piece, dropped it into the inferno, and watched it go up in flames. Ron never again attempted to make a model wooden airplane. Based on Ron’s story, his father was primed, but not for positive influence.

Words are reflective of the track we run on. One leads to hope, another to despair. One leads to encouragement, and one leads to discouragement. One leads to life and the other to death. What track are you running on? Do your words honor and respect you?  Do they honor and promote others or do they disrespect and harm? Do your words encourage and uplift you? Do they elevate and transform others’ lives or do they bring down and destroy? Do your words create harmony and build unity or do they separate and divide?

Because only you have the power to prime yourself for influence, only you can change the thoughts you think (what you say when you talk to yourself) and the words you speak.

Click here to learn more about my Influential Leader Program, which will give you what you need to prime yourself for influence and success.

Here is my personal challenge for you: For the next week take note of the words you speak. Take a piece of paper and draw a T with a horizontal line across the top and a  vertical line down the center of the page, creating two columns. Label the heading over the right column BUILDING UP. Label the heading over the left column TEARING DOWN. Then each time your words add something positive to your life or the life of another, make note of it. Each time your words make a negative impact on you or another, make note of it. At the end of the week, total each column. This will give you some idea as to how positive an influence you are on you and

in the lives of others.

In the meantime, check out my program, Influential Leader, as it contains powerful advice on how to prime yourself for influence and success.

Head over there now to see what it’s all about!

© 2018  Mary Jane Mapes  All rights reserved.