Finding A Cure for O.S.D. – Obsessive Sharing Disorder

(via // Illustration: Kim Carney)O.S.D., or obsessive sharing disorder – that’s what author and coach Peggy Klaus calls people’s growing tendency to offer up too much personal information at work. In this past Sunday’s issue of The New York Times, she extrapolated that this over-sharing is likely an extension of online behavior or, alternatively, the need to connect in a disconnected world. Klaus points out: Since we spend so much time at work these days (likely as much if not  more time than at home), it’s no wonder we look to  forge close connections with co-workers — and that ultimately blurs the line between professional and personal boundaries.

So, is there a cure for this common ailment (particularly among the Gen Y set)?  Yes!

In “Be Your Own Best Publicist,” we address the challenges of managing your personal brand both on- and off-line.  So, here are some things to remember when considering whether to share or remain silent about your personal life:

  • Who do you think you’re talking to? Just like our recent post about griping about past employers online — think about what the right forum is to share personal information, whatever it entails. Probably not a good move to share your personal issues with a boss or client,  lest they think those distractions will hinder your ability to do the job. Even offering up those private thoughts or questionable choices to co-workers could significantly affect your trajectory at work, so consider your audience before plowing ahead. We recommend holding your tongue –and comments– until you’re outside the workplace (and with trusted friends or family), just to be safe.
  • Will it help or hinder?  Remember that nowadays, in particular, everything you say or post can and will be used “against” you. Whenever we are communicating with a client or a media person, we consider the impact of our words because once a statement or sentiment is out there, it’s impossible to take back (ahem, Congressman Akin!).  Ever try to hit the recall button on a email?  Exactly.  Consider your words carefully in advance. Ask yourself: Will what I say move the situation forward?  How will it color the way my conversation partner perceives me?
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Wondering whether you should share the story about your crazy weekend in the Hamptons or perhaps some details about a love affair gone wrong? Less is more — particularly in the workplace.  Editing yourself can be the hardest, yet most valuable skill you can learn whatever your career. We all need to hit the pause button once and a while. Consider your goals and key messages before blurting any old thing out. General rule of thumb: When in doubt — you got it — LEAVE IT OUT.

How do you deal those “suffering” from O.S.D. in your life?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.




Creating Buzz on a Budget: Our #SXSW Bid to Help Start-Ups Stand Out In A Good Way

You have a great idea, a website, a business plan and maybe even some funding. Now what? It doesn’t mean anything unless people are talking, sharing and buzzing about your brand.

For most start-ups, publicity typically falls to the bottom of the expenditure list. Yet, in this day and age, with so much competition for coverage and attention, it can be the thing that connects the dots, raises your profile and attracts consumers, advertisers, partners and investors.

That’s exactly why we’ve proposed a session at SXSW (a nice follow-up to our involvement last year) to help start-ups learn how to kick off the drumbeat about their brands through press coverage and social media buzz, even if they are in bootstrapping mode.

Help us help them by voting for our session:  Vote and then send us the screen shot of your vote online —  you will be entered to win a signed copy of our book. (Winner chosen at random.)

**Added incentive: The person who gets the most of his/her friends to vote for us will get an hour-long coaching phone session with us.  (How to show that your friends voted: They email you the screen shot; you then forward to us at Bestpublicist (at) gmail (dot) com.) **

Thanks – and here’s to being your own best publicist!

Serena’s Olympic Victory Celebration: Learning from The Dance that Became a Distraction


Serena busts a move (

Likely it was simply a moment of unbridled joy — as she told Access Hollywood, “A good moment for her”–  but Serena Williams’ golden accomplishment became tarnished when she spontaneously broke into a  “C-Walk” victory dance — moves tied to gang life in her home state of California.

Of course, the various pundits and people around the blogoshere rushed to weigh in:

It was embarrassing.”

It was just a dance (and the criticism smacked of racism).”

It was inappropriate.”

It was cool.”

No matter what the meaning or intention, the result of the action was the same: It inadvertently shifted the focus from her incredible achievement to a less than stellar image.

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Media Training: Taking Our Own Advice

Over the course of our careers, we’ve both spent endless hours in media and messaging training sessions with our clients, where either we alone–or, more often, with a professional media trainer–put these folks through the paces before they were to appear on television. We worked on key messages, body language, posture, wardrobe, verbal and physical tics (i.e. ums, uhs and frequent repetition of a word or phrase like “absolutely,” “exactly,” or “I think”) and, most importantly, how to take control of an interview.

Sometimes, we witnessed the transformation of a raw natural talent into a superstar. Other times, we came to the conclusion that no amount of training would ever make a person into a TV personality. But regardless, we never realized how truly difficult it is to prep for a television appearance until we went through media training ourselves in preparation for the release of our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist.

We dedicate an entire chapter to using tips and tricks from the best media trainers, TV producers and on-air talent in the industry to help anyone prepare for a job interview, presentation or speaking engagement, so we knew it would be a good idea to be the trainees for once instead of the trainers.

As a result, we have a newfound respect for the people we’ve sat in those sessions with because the truth is: it’s hard work to come across as comfortable, confident and knowledgeable when there’s a video camera in your face. Here are some lessons we learned about how to knock a TV interview out of the ballpark:

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This week, half of the BYOBP duo heads off to fulfill a dream first conceived in 7th Grade Social Studies — to see the Galápagos Islands. Years of pining and planning now hinges on making sure everything that’s needed ends up in the suitcase (and with her on the plane, of course!).

Funny…going through the process mirrors something we learned from a mentor about prepping for an important meeting: Come packing. We wouldn’t dream of heading off to see the Puffins or Blue-Footed Boobies without the right equipment to record the trip or shield us from the elements. The same holds true for meetings: We make sure to come to the table armed with information, knowledge of the topic at hand and fresh ideas to move the conversation along and make our points effectively.

So, how can you make sure you come armed and ready for any meeting, large or small?

Know where you want to go.
It stands to reason: You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you want to go.  If you’re hosting the meeting, have an agenda.  There’s nothing we hate more than going to meetings with no agenda — they usually end up accomplishing nothing because no one knows what the end goal was before they arrived.  Being crystal clear about your goals can keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

Use your key messages as your guide.
Key messages are the GPS of your conversation. While you may not have that annoying woman (or, if you prefer, Daria or Darth Vader) commanding you to “TAKE A RIGHT IN 10 FEET,” having thought-out understanding of what you want to say will help prevent you from wandering into dangerous territory. We’re not suggesting that you be stilted; just map out some thoughts so you can speak in the most compelling way about your subject of choice.

Be prepared with options.
Anyone who has ever packed for a trip knows that it’s challenging to say the least. You want to bring the necessary items, but also want to include enough stuff to have some flexibility while away. When “packing” for meetings, be sure to keep a few alternatives or “work arounds” in your back pocket, just in case you need to switch it out mid-meeting. Try to anticipate negative feedback or stumbling blocks and draft some responses to have at the ready.

When it comes to meetings, how do you “pack it in” to prepare? Let us know at Facebook or Twitter (@BestPublicist).


Kanye should thank his lucky stars for Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Their engagement shifted the spotlight from his most recent media meltdown to better tidings for sure.   But since we all can’t count on a royal betrothal to move the white-hot spotlight off of any mistakes we make in interviews or simple conversation, here are few things that we can all learn from Kanye’s toe-to-toe on the Today Show (not to mention his crazy stage-crashing at the VMAs last year — that could be an entirely different post!):

Don’t be defensive.
Kanye’s interview took a turn for the worse once he imagined that Matt Lauer (and the rest of the Today Show team) had plotted against him. Let’s clarify something right off the bat: News shows often run tape while guests are speaking in studio. Watch the morning shows; you’ll see many, many examples. This is not done as a “gotcha” or to elicit emotion. It’s done to refresh the audience’s memory and to tell the full story. In any case, Kanye went on the defensive and thus derailed what could have been a positive media moment for him.

Be authentic.
Being authentic is the best way to rehabilitate a reputation, sway opinion and change perception. Kanye wanted to do all those things by appearing on the Today Show to apologize to former President Bush for ill-thought-out statements made about Hurricane Katrina. Instead, his interview (and subsequent Twitter rants) reveal his actual need to be right vs. his stated desire to make amends.

Be clear and concise.
Being crystal clear about your goals for the conversation, interview or what-have-you will help you avoid going South like West. Even if the interviewer tries to lead you astray (or, in Kanye’s case runs “unexpected” video while you’re speaking), focusing on your key messages will help you communicate what you want in the most effective way.

Listen to the counsel of others.
As many public figures do, Kanye had hired a highly seasoned, well-respected media trainer to prepare him for this important interview. Instead of following the trainer’s advice, Kanye lost focus, forgot what she taught him and subsequently did significant damage to his already hurting image. His crash-and-burn scenario doesn’t need to be yours. Above all, when it comes to negotiating challenging situations, it’s always good to ask for — and listen to — counsel from those who have been there, done that.

Now we like Kanye’s music as much as the next person but his behavior in the media has actually made us wish we didn’t know the man behind the beats.  Who else do you think could use a trainer to help his/her image?   Tell us so at Twitter (@bestpublicist) or Facebook.


In fast food, fillers are additives that bulk up the weight of a food with less expensive, less nutritious ingredients. In conversation — particularly when we’re nervous — we pepper our speech with fillers such as “like,” “you know,” “kinda” and “um.”  But use them too often, and they can cheapen your words and distract your listener from hearing your intended messages. Think “Valley Girl” or “Clueless.”

Don't talk like Valley Girl Cher from, like, Clueless, you know?

For example, we once interviewed a woman who, on paper, had great experience but throughout our meeting said “you know” so often that we started thinking, “Will she come across as authoritative and polished to our executives and clients, or will she sound inexperienced and immature?”  In fact, no matter how many intelligent things she said during our meeting, we couldn’t help but tick off how many times she injected “you know” in between her sound bites.  Then, there was that teacher that Meryl had in elementary school who used the word “um” incessantly. So much so, that it became impossible to focus on the lesson at hand and, ultimately, the only thing learned in that class was how many times a person can actually use a pointless word over the course of an hour.

Most of the time, people don’t even realize they’re using fillers.  But there are things you can do to prevent this from happening and taking your interviewer’s, boss’ or client’s attention away from what you really want to say.

1)  Practice! It may sound silly but ask a friend to role play an interview with you and record it.  When you listen back, note how many times you said a filler.  It’s important to do this with another person versus just recording yourself saying your answers – you’re more likely to rely on fillers when in a conversation with someone else.

2) Nail down your messages. The more thought you put into your potential answers to tough interview questions, the better they will sound when the time comes.  Nervous tics show up most often when we’re nervous, unsure or lack confidence.  If you go into the interview knowing what you really want to get across, you’ll be more articulate.

3) Take a breath. A filler is called that because it literally “fills the air” between thoughts.  If you pause or take a breath in between phrases or sentences when answering a question or talking about yourself, you will be less likely to insert superfluous words into your conversation.  You can also tell the interviewer, “That’s a good question.  Let me think for a moment before answering.”  That way, you can gather your thoughts and put them in order before letting them spill out in a disorganized fashion. 

4) Watch the pros. Tune in to morning shows and news programs to see how on-air guests do when responding to interviewers.  If they use a lot of fillers, you’ll notice – and so will the show.  Chances are, they won’t be invited back.  The best guests speak intelligently, clearly and with energy but don’t sound overly rehearsed.  Take some cues from them.

We’d love to hear from you: What are some fillers you notice in day-to-day conversation? How does that affect what you think of the communicator?