From the Desk of Ellen Fisher - May 2012

Be Prepared...

As a rule, when I pick up the phone and it's a robocall, I immediately hang up. In my most humble opinion, phones are for 2-way conversations, not mechanically delivered messages. However, last month, one political call actually grabbed my attention. It was an invitation to attend a rally for Mitt Romney. I am a political event junkie and, having run for office myself back in the early 90's, love being a part of these local happenings. 

What made this event extra-special is that it was taking place at a business called The Iron Shop. Back when I was a kid I had attended a class there in metal sculpture. I had especially loved using the acetylene torch. The building is on the path I regularly drive when going to my local produce store and, for years, I have been fantasizing about getting back inside to peek around. This made the Romney Rally a double-hit!

On the way to the event with my husband, Brian, and an old neighbor, I made a pact with myself that I was going to be anonymous. Unlike the days of old, I wasn't going to get involved in any of the political conversations; I was just going to have a good time. I also didn't dress for the occasion. In other words, I wasn't wearing a hat or a suit. As most of you know, for me, being without a hat at a business or political event is akin to being naked, or at least incognito. At the last minute I did put on some lipstick... just in case. 

While Brian and our neighbor filled out papers with demographic information, I headed directly into the action. Before my eyes even adjusted to the light in the room, a TV reporter put a microphone up to my face. Yikes! I wasn't prepared! While I answered his question about whether I thought Romney had a chance against Santorum (no longer an issue since Santorum is out of the race) the thing that kept floating though my mind was the bizarre old mother's adage about making sure you wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident!

In spite of not being prepared for this media opportunity (and I typically prepare to the point of over-preparing for media opportunities) I managed to share a few good sound bites. At the same time I was silently praying that my coat would  look good on camera and make up for my lack of make-up.

I guess the business lesson here is pretty simple: always be prepared with a few wise words before entering any business event. And if you do find yourself at a loss for words, just follow one of the most famous of all public speaking credos: Picture your audience in their underwear. It is a great equalizing image. Thining about underwear makes you smile which, as I discovered last month, also makes you look good on camera!  
Ellen Fisher, Founder, Publisher and the owner of all brand new underwear                                  

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