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Re-Think Traditions – Old and New

December 26th, 2013

How to Re-Balance Your Life…and Your Holidays Tip #5!jg happy holidays

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz,

Is this the year to re-evaluate long-standing customs and traditions? If they’ve become obsolete,

burdensome, or just plain boring maybe it’s time to make some changes that are long overdue. And don’t be surprised when others thank you for taking the lead and having the courage to make a change they’ve wanted to make for a long time!

If you’ve suffered a loss and someone you love is not with you this year, following all the old and familiar traditions may be too painful. The very thought of it is more than you can endure. That’s perfectly OK. This might be the year to start some new traditions to help you get through the coming days. Put yourself first, and do what works for you. Perhaps you’re spending the holidays away from home and family. If following old traditions is not possible, start some new traditions of your own. Friends, neighbors or coworkers who are also away from family could become your “extended family” for the day.

And speaking of family, have you ever wished you could spend the holidays with someone else’s family for a change? A friend of mine suggests that instead of exchanging gifts, we should exchange families. She says we are all much better behaved when at least one non-family member is present. Reflecting on our own family gatherings, I have to admit that she may have something there! Seriously, though – is there a friend, neighbor or coworker who might be alone on a special holiday and would be grateful to be part of your gathering?

Whether it’s the holidays or life as we know it, we all experience times when we are out of balance. Sometimes it’s a temporary situation, when pressure in one area outweighs the others. As a motivational keynote speaker I meet people all across the country whose lives have been thrown into a tailspin in the blink of an eye because of a sudden crisis. Accident, illness, injury, death of someone close, natural disaster… the list goes on. Reclaiming your balance during those trying times can be a major challenge. Sometimes it may feel impossible. If you find yourself in such a situation, what can you do to take care of yourself while you’re taking care of others? How will you stay balanced in mind, body and spirit? Where will you go? To whom will you turn to get the help and support you need and deserve? There are people who can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

As we come to the end of this blog series, remember that long after the holidays have ended, LIFE BALANCE isn’t really about what goes on OUTSIDE of you. It’s about what goes on INSIDE of you! And the key to creating balance is INTENTION.  Begin each day with the INTENTION to focus on the people, experiences and moments in your life that: feel right…make you happy…bring you peace…encourage you to believe in yourself…keep you healthy and fit…allow you the opportunity to grow…reduce your stress … and give you a chance to discover a sense of well-being and balance.

Remember, it’s all about the choices YOU make. As always, YOU have the POWER TO CHOOSE. Use it well!  If you missed any of the posts in this series, you can catch up here. Until next time, my best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy new year!

Set Limits and Stick to Them

December 19th, 2013

How to Re-Balance Your Life…and Your Holidays Tip #4JG Finding Life Balance

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

Living a balanced life is all about setting limits and sticking to them – no matter what the time of year. Our lives are constantly changing and evolving. Things may change in your life from year to year and from holiday to holiday. Make sure that you’re doing whatever it takes to care for yourself in mind, body and spirit. Remember, you must be #1 on your priority list!

One of the best things you can do for yourself – and one of the hardest to do over the holidays – is to spend with

in your means. Your life will never be balanced or your stress reduced if you spend more than you have, carry serious credit card debt and buy things even when you don’t need them. Many people appear to have money if you simply look at the things they have.  But wealth is NOT about what you have, especially if what you have was bought on credit! Wealth is about what you WILL have for the future, for emergencies, for your retirement and to live a life that is safe, healthy and free from financial worry.

Since the holidays can often add to your financial worries, remember that the true spirit of giving has nothing to do with how much money you spend on others. And it sure is hard to get motivated and excited about buying presents this year if you’re still paying off last year’s credit card debt. Or maybe, like many people these days, your financial situation has changed and the extra money for gifts is simply not in the budget. If you can’t afford gifts for everyone on your usual list, perhaps you could give them the gift of your time instead. What are some creative things you could do for them that they would appreciate – maybe even more than a store bought present?

And don’t be surprised when you learn that someone else in your family or circle of friends is in a similar situation and were afraid to speak up until you did. They will probably breathe a sigh of relief and happily follow your lead. You’ll be a hero for being honest enough to set limits and stick to them. What about the people who aren’t happy with your new plan? You already know who they are, don’t you? Be strong, stand your ground and let them deal with it the best way they can. That’s part of taking care of yourself, isn’t it?

As we move into the Holiday Home Stretch, remember that LIFE BALANCE isn’t really about what goes on OUTSIDE of you. It’s about what goes on INSIDE of you! If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here.

Have a StandOUT Week!


Set Realistic Expectations – For Yourself and Others

December 12th, 2013

How to Re-balance your Life…and your Holidays Tip #3How to Be Stress Free

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz,

Stop! Slow down! Breathe! What’s the hurry? As a motivational keynote speaker I’m continually amazed when audience members complain about how exhausted and busy they are, and then expound on the long list of activities they’ve signed up for, agreed to, and volunteered to do. Some are not at all necessary (or even healthy) for their success and well-being.

I often see families, including young children, who are literally exhausted by the end of the day. And it’s not just from the responsibilities of work and school, but from the vast array of classes, tutors, sports, hobbies, clubs, events, and meetings that were NOT required, but optional. While it’s great to have choices for extra enrichment experiences, don’t forget that you need some down time in order to stay healthy.

Perfection and over-commitment are two of the biggest holiday stressors that can really tip our balance scales in the wrong direction. And it’s so easy to fall into the trap! If you’re like me, you’ve watched more than your share of Christmas TV specials and read too many magazines on how to decorate, entertain and produce the perfect holiday gathering. In every medium we’re exposed to Norman Rockwell – like images of the perfect family at the perfect holiday gathering. And haven’t we, at least once in our adult lives, decided that this year we will BE that family? Reflecting back on the actual event, we are disillusioned (again!) because our reality fails to measure up to the pictures we’ve created in our imaginations. It’s no wonder we’re disappointed! Think about it. We spend holiday time with other less-than-perfect people and all their holiday hang-ups. What did we expect? During the holidays – and throughout our daily lives – stress often results from the difference in what we expect and what we experience.

Aiming for perfection in work and in life is a battle you will never win. In your commitment to do a perfect job at work, maybe you’ve begun to come in early, skip lunch, stay late, and take work home on the weekends. Being preoccupied with work related-issues leaves little time for family, friends, outside interests and any semblance of a personal life. While your job is important, you have to be more than your job. Like most employees today, you’re expected to work harder, smarter, faster and better – with more creativity and energy than ever before. To do that, you need time to renew yourself so you can focus your energy and enthusiasm in the right direction. Working to create a balanced life is healthy, while working to create a perfect life can be harmful to your physical and emotional well-being.

As you get caught up in the holiday rush remember that LIFE BALANCE isn’t really about what goes on OUTSIDE of you. It’s about what goes on INSIDE of you! If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here.

Take Care of Yourself …For a Change!

December 2nd, 2013

How to Re-Balance Your Life…and Your Holidays Tip #2jg work life

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

In last week’s post we talked about why YOU should be at the top of your priorities list. When you get so busy and caught up in everyday life, it’s easy to put yourself last. To do your job, be a good leader, handle change, maintain healthy and loving relationships and live long enough to reap the rewards… you must take care of yourself!

Your body is programmed to give you clues when something is wrong. Learn to recognize them. Headache, muscle tension and heartburn may be warnings that your body is on overload or there’s a deeper problem you need to check out. Don’t ignore the signals your body is sending you. It’s an amazing machine, but it needs your help to stay on track.

If you’re feeling depressed, sad or angry, ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. Then figure out what you can do about it. Are you busy serving others while your own needs go unnoticed and unmet? Is something – or someone – causing stress, sadness, grief, pain, sorrow, anger, resentment, frustration, or whatever feeling or emotion you want to insert here? Remember that the most well-intentioned people in your life are not mind readers. It’s your responsibil

ity to let them know, in an appropriate way, how you feel and what you need from them.

As a motivational keynote speaker I meet many audience members who describe themselves as caretakers. Sometimes that’s truly the case. Many times, however, we fall into the habit of doing for others when they could easily do for themselves. It’s so much easier (and far less work!) to let us carry the ball. If you’re known as the caretaker in your family or in your workplace, people fall into the habit of depending on you. If it’s hard for you to say “No,” it’s going to be a challenge to reclaim your balance. Taking care of everyone else leaves little time to take care of you. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to notice that your life is out of balance because you’re too busy with tasks, people and projects to pay close attention to what’s happening to you. If you’re at this point in your life, what conversations need to take place – and with whom?

You can get so busy concentrating your energy and attention in one area that you don’t notice how out of balance your life has become. Perhaps you try to do it all. Maybe you try to be all things to all people. But then subtle things happen that often go unnoticed at first. Small problems, left untreated, become big problems. It’s easier to look the other way. But instead you must look within yourself to honestly identify and acknowledge the problem and then work on a solution. Then you will be ready to move yourself to the top of your “to-do” list and “to care for” list. You can’t begin to address a problem you won’t admit exists.

Remember, LIFE BALANCE isn’t really about what goes on OUTSIDE of you. It’s about what goes on INSIDE of you! If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here.

How to Re-Balance Your Life…and Your Holidays!

November 20th, 2013

Tip 1: Stop reacting to life. It’s exhaustinglife balance

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

Did you look at the picture here and think, “Are you kidding, Jean?”

Have any of these thoughts crossed your mind lately?

“I want more time with my family… I’d like some time to be alone …I want to be healthier… I need sleep!…I never have time to see my friends…
There’s never any time left for me… There aren’t enough hours in the day…What’s happened to my life? … What’s happened to ME?” If they sound familiar, you’re not alone!

As a motivational keynote speaker my clients often ask me to speak about “How to Balance Home and Career.” I suggest a different topic instead: “Finding Balance in a Hectic, Hurried World.” While the two may appear to be the same, they’re very different in scope. The first one promises a magical way to equalize these two parts of your life. No one has discovered how to do that yet. In fact, most people who attempt to define balance in terms of equal time for home and career end up frustrated and disappointed when they discover it’s easier said than done.

There’s also a problem with the premise that your personal life and your professional life are two distinct parts of who you are. When it comes to balance, you don’t have a personal life AND a professional life. You have a LIFE. You are who you are – 24/7!  And then… just when you’re hanging on by a thread… here come the holidays! But fear not! You can use all of the tips I’ll share in this series to balance your holidays AND your life.

First, set your priorities by deciding what you want and don’t want in your life. What’s REALLY important? What can you put on the back burner for a while? What do you NEED to do to keep your family, your job, your financial security and your health intact? What less important things can wait until later?

Start taking action in the important areas of your life and stop reacting to every unimportant thing that comes along. Reacting to life can be exhausting! Taking stock of your life and moving forward with clarity and purpose can be a real eye-opener.  For example, if you put “family, loving relationships and health” at the top of your list, but you work constantly, are seldom home, don’t sleep well, eat right or exercise, then… what you SAY is important to you, and how you CHOOSE to live your life don’t match! This naturally creates even more stress and leaves you feeling unbalanced.  To live a balanced life, your actions must align with your values.

Remember, LIFE BALANCE isn’t really about what goes on OUTSIDE of you. It’s about what goes on INSIDE of you! Start working on your priority list, and forward this article to friends who need it. I’ll bet you know more than a few!


Think You’re Not in Sales?

July 16th, 2013

JG-Standout-PPT-graphics-2-150x150by Motivational Business Speaker Jean Gatz

I recently had the privilege of watching the four finalists in the LSU Student Incubator “Shark Tank” competition – though it was much kinder and gentler than the TV version! These young entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to grow and expand their dreams to a panel of local business leaders, who then decided how the $25,000 in prize money would be awarded.  They did their homework, focused on the positive, answered questions honestly, and demonstrated enthusiasm, confidence, and innovative thinking with every sentence they spoke. Calm yet confident, they focused on selling themselves and their ideas to get the buy-in and commitment they needed. They knew, without a doubt, that they had 10 minutes to “make the sale.”

Glad you’re not in sales?  Wait a minute. Think you’re NOT in sales? Think again. No matter where you work or what you do – even if you’re not directly involved in selling products and services – you’re still in sales. Every time you search for just the right words to present your ideas to get the buy-in you need from others – you’re selling. Whenever you persuade someone to see something from your point of view, you’re selling. Influencing others, getting people to think differently or even change their minds about an issue, a concept, a project or an idea – that’s selling. When you promote all the benefits of your next event to get attendance numbers up, you’re selling to those potential audience members. We all “sell” our ideas every day – with customers, coworkers, colleagues, friends and family.

Think about the successful salespeople you know. Notice how they work hard to nurture relationships built on mutual trust and respect, take time to learn what’s important to others, and listen to learn instead of doing all the talking.   Knowing how to sell yourself, your ideas, your passion and your beliefs are vital to success in your personal and professional life.  They will give you the competitive advantage you need to STAND OUT from the Crowd!

Secrets to Success in Dealing With Difficult People at no cost. And if you’re planning a conference or in-house training event, let’s work together to make it STAND OUT like nothing you’ve ever done before! Email me at jean@jeangatz.com or call me today at 225-907-4138. We’ll make it work with the budget you have!


How to Keep Your Balance in an Unbalanced World

April 3rd, 2012

By Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

Remember learning tJean Gatz Standout Strategieso ride your bike without the training wheels? You were so proud of yourself and didn’t realize you were losing your balance… until it was too late. Hopefully, all you did was scrape a knee or an elbow. Not exactly how you planned it, right? Getting your life in balance is sort of like that. You first have to recognize and admit that things aren’t going exactly as you planned.

Life can get out of balance when you’re so busy concentrating your energy and attention in one area that you don’t see how unbalanced other areas have become. When you’re thrown into a tailspin because of an unexpected crisis, ask yourself what you can do to regain your balance in mind, body and spirit. Turn to someone you trust for help.

Even when we’re not in the middle of a crisis, our lives are in a constant state of imbalance. When small problems are ignored they can become big problems. So you must pay close attention to what’s happening in ALL areas of your life. Sounds like a big job… but just like learning to ride without your training wheels, you can do it. Start by looking at your job – and your life – and identify small problems that have gradually gotten worse. Sometimes it’s much easier to look the other way instead of being brave enough to honestly acknowledge the problem and then work on a solution. You can’t begin to address a problem you won’t admit exists.

If you’re known as everyone else’s caretaker, others may become overly dependent. So you try to do it all. You try to be it all. Taking care of everyone else leaves very little time to take care of YOU. If you’re at this point now, what conversations need to take place? Who needs to be involved in those conversations? Nobody is a mind reader, so you have to speak up and tell people what you need or want.

Your job is definitely important, but don’t ever make the mistake of letting your job define you. In today’s turbulent times you have to be MORE than your job to survive whatever happens – in the economy, in the world, or in your organization. Balance is more important than ever because you have to face your challenges with more creativity and energy than ever. Here are six steps you can take to help get your life back in balance.

Take Charge!

January 17th, 2012

Jean Gatz Standout Strategies

by Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

What’s the “one thing” you’ve done since reading this blog last week to re-think your choices and make this a STAND OUT year? Have you looked at a major change in your job or your life and made the choice to feel powerful instead of powerless? Not as easy as it sounds, is it? Here’s another way to tell if your perspective is moving you forward or holding you back.

If you choose to negatively REACT to change, you’ve made the choice to resist, play it safe and close yourself off. You try to convince yourself that all this change is just a phase and that life as you know it will soon get back to the way it used to be. You spend your time blaming and complaining instead of finding solutions.

There’s no doubt about it…complaining once in a while feels good! The problem is that when you waste emotional energy blaming, complaining and hanging onto old beliefs and behaviors, there’s no energy left to tackle the challenges you’re facing.  Your negative emotions lead to negative attitudes and behaviors that have a negative impact on your customers and co-workers. Being in “react mode” also impacts your decision making ability and your future success.

There’s a much better alternative. Instead of reacting, choose to ACT in positive ways to handle change. Decide that you are going to meet this challenge head-on. Stay open to new ideas. Learn from every person you meet and every experience you have. Use your time wisely to broaden your knowledge base, develop new competencies and sharpen your skills. Find new ways to service your customers. Instead of giving up, make the choice to take charge.


  • No more excuses
  • Being accountable for the consequences of your actions
  • Taking responsibility for your happiness and well-being
  • Letting go of what’s not working and choosing to move forward
  • Solving problems instead of worrying
  • Finding your power in the midst of chaos.

Wow! That’s a lot of responsibility! But what’s the alternative? Letting someone else or something else decide what your future should look like? Letting others make decisions that could impact your financial security and the security of your family? That doesn’t make sense, does it?

Remember, there is seldom a circumstance in which you are completely powerless … unless you choose not to take action. When you choose to ACT – to TAKE CHARGE – you are making the choice to control your own destiny. And that’s the smartest choice you will ever make.

Make it a STAND OUT week!


Learn more STANDOUT Strategies in 10 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd!

Where Is Your Focus?

July 20th, 2011

Standing on my hotel balcony I watched as early morning beachcombers searched for seashells. Suddenly I noticed several dolphins about 100 feet from shore, putting on quite a show! Surely one of the shell gatherers would notice them and alert everyone else to this spectacular sight! But no one ever looked up. They plodded along, heads bent in concentration, eyes focused only on the task at hand. Even though no one could hear me above the sound of the waves I started shouting, “Hey! You’re missing the dolphins!”
Today’s organizations are focused on finding every competitive advantage – including streamlining the ways work gets done. While this approach can have a positive impact on the bottom line, it can have quite a negative impact on the people doing the work. Profits are not achieved through streamlining alone, but also through the impact of the attitudes and behaviors of the people who get the job done. How are the attitudes and behaviors of the people on your team?

If you want your organization to STAND OUT from the competition, take a look around. Observe how management and staff interact with customers and with each other. How are they handling change and dealing with increased pressure to produce? How are their attitudes and behaviors impacting morale and productivity? What choices are they consciously making to contribute to team success?

Remember, we all get to choose how to respond to our daily challenges. While you may not be in charge of everything that happens in your workplace (including the decisions others make without your input) you are in charge of the attitudes and behaviors you bring to your job every day. You can choose to gossip, whine and complain. Or you can choose to come to work with a positive attitude, support each other, work together, stick together and take pride in a job well done.

The ability to STAND OUT from the competition depends both on what you do and how you do it. To improve leadership performance, increase personal accountability and encourage your people to accept and embrace change, you must be aware of negative attitudes and behaviors – whether they’re coming from one department or one person. You must focus on long term goals while you focus on short term projects.

It’s so easy to get caught up in daily workplace ritual and routine that you fail to see problems or make time to celebrate progress. How are your leaders, colleagues and co-workers doing? Where are you concentrating your attention, time and effort? Are you so focused on gathering seashells that you’re missing the dolphins?


Making the Right Call

May 26th, 2011

by Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatz

I snapped this photo the night before officials closed the levee to pedestrians in Baton Rouge as the Mississippi River continued to rise.   I heard the story of a ship captain who was trying to reach the docks to unload his cargo before the river was closed to traffic. According to his calculations he could pass safely under the bridge with 12 inches of clearance to spare.

But instead of proceeding, he turned around. He realized that after the cargo was unloaded, his ship would sit much higher in the water and he wouldn’t have the clearance he needed to pass back under the bridge to get home. With no easy choices and a tough decision staring him in the face, he made the right call.

While we all have to make tough decisions to get through life, it’s not always easy to make the right choice.  Finding excuses to procrastinate is a lot easier! “This isn’t fair! Why do I have to decide now?  If I wait long enough someone else might make the decision for me, or the problem may resolve itself.”  Sound familiar?

Depending on the situation, any or all of these could be valid. Some problems do have a way of resolving themselves if we’re patient enough to wait and see how things turn out.   When my sister Patty needed one of my kidneys 34 years ago, we didn’t have the luxury of waiting. This problem was not going to resolve itself! So we did the best we could with the choices we had, and moved forward. The transplant was a success, even though we didn’t have any guarantees.

Over your lifetime you’ll make countless important decisions – and most of them won’t come with any guarantees.  Maybe you’re facing some tough choices – dealing with a difficult employee, starting or ending a relationship, making that long overdue doctor’s appointment, starting a business, moving to a new town, going back to school, writing that best seller, contemplating a career change or retiring from the job you have.

While it’s easier to procrastinate, it’s usually better to do something to move forward instead of remaining stuck in the same place. We all have to make many important decisions alone, but we can also ask for help. While no one can make every decision for you, there are people you respect who can lend an ear, act as a sounding board and offer their wise counsel to help you focus in the right direction.

When faced with your next difficult decision, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Who is stopping me?
  • What is stopping me?
  • Who needs to act?
  • Who needs to get out of the way?
  • How much longer can I afford to wait until the easy choices come along?

Once you answer these questions honestly the issues – and choices – will become clear. Then you’ll know what choice you need to make.  As we all know, sometimes there are NO easy choices. But like that riverboat captain, we must do our best to make the right call.