In February, I went on a long awaited retreat to Florida to spend time with an incredible coach and to focus on what would be next for me in business and in life.
It was an amazing time, and while we did come up with some exciting ideas for my work – and wonderful ones for my family too – what struck me about the time together was how beautiful it was to re-visit my own message.
One of the struggles I’ve had in my own message clarity and applying it to our business planning is WHO I want to serve in our business… corporate leaders or coaches and wellness experts.
Because the truth is that I serve both with such a full heart.
When COVID 19 hit, clarity of who I wanted to serve right now came clear quickly. It was an interesting revelation because while I was in Florida, I actually thought I was going to head in the corporate direction more.
But that changed as soon as I saw what was happening in this strange new world. The clarity showed up as soon as I looked inside.
In this episode I talk you through my Rooftop Message process and how to refine that into The Stand You Take.
The stand you take is at the heart of everything you say and do in your business. It’s your home base when your brain tells you you’re confused and lack clarity.
In today’s Brilliance at Work podcast episode,we're going to talk about how Your Crystal Clear Message Will Keep You Grounded and I walk you through the process of tapping into that clarity.
What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
- Why the stand you take is at the heart of everything you say and do in your business
- Hear my own story of getting clear on my message, and then making another sudden shift when our world went into lockdown
- I’ll walk you through my Rooftop Message activity for getting clear on the stand you take
- Why who you serve now doesn’t have to be who you serve forever
List to the Full Episode
Featured On The Show:
- Access my free mini course, Your Crystal Clear Message at the Heart of Your Work here
- Podcast: What Do YOu Really Want? Vision and Goals with Debbie Phillips
- Podcast: The ONLY Way to Get to Message Clarity with Kara Loewentheil
- Download A Free copy of my book, Beyond Applause: Make a Meaningful Difference Through Transformational Speaking, here.
- Download a free copy of Lead with Your Natural Charisma, Inspire and Motivate Your Team and Beyond with Ease at http://brillianceatwork.com/naturalcharisma.
- The Brilliance at Work Community Facebook Group
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Brilliance At Work Podcast where we shine a light on where great work, charisma and growing a thriving business you love really comes from, I'm Michelle Barry Franco. I've been a speaking of thought leadership coach for more than a decade from TEDx stages to world famous conferences and I've helped some of the most beloved business leaders grow their businesses and serve in the biggest way possible through their business and through their thought leadership. I love that. I get to share the best of what I've learned with you here on the brilliance at work podcast.
Hello, my lovely brilliant friends. Can I tell you that this morning my daughter came into our room as we were waking up and having coffee, which is one of the gifts by the way of quarantine. We get to hang out longer in bed and have coffee and sometimes the girls come just visiting in in the morning. Anyway, my office is attached to our room and she was walking past my podcast microphone. It was tilted upward so it was the perfect height for her to speak into it. You know, as if you were standing on the stage and you had a had a microphone there on a stand in front of you and she started pretending she was me. She starts saying hello, my beautiful, brilliant friends, a window into our world. My daughters are outside playing b ball and I'm in bed just cracking up. I said, do you listen to my podcast? She said, no, I just overhear you sometimes and this is just a mix of what you say on Marco Polo when you do videos for family and when I hear you say from your office, so I guess I'm immensely predictable.
Speaking of predictable. The truth is that even when things are super wonky, like they are right now for so many of us, for all of us, we are all also kind of predictable in some very specific ways and that's really what we're going to talk about today, is how we can find that place of center in our business. You know what I'm talking about this a lot, right? In terms of finding home, that calm place within you that always exists, that wisdom that is there underneath all of those thinky thoughts. In today's episode, I want to talk about this in a highly practical, not that place of home is not practical because it is incredibly practical and really applies to everything, but in a way that's very specific around your business and your messaging and your marketing.
I want to talk about how you can always go back to this home base of your own crystal clear message. So before we dive in to talk about how you get, how you tap into that crystal clear message. I want to make a quick request. If you haven't done this already, I would so, so appreciate if you'd head on over to your favorite listing app, give us a rating and a review. This just helps us be found inside the whole mass world of many podcasts so that the people who are looking for what we offer around messaging and Thought Leadership and Speaking and Business Building are more likely to find this podcast. Thank you so much. I so, so appreciate you taking a minute to do that. All right. Now that we have that handled, let's dive into your beautiful, beautiful message.
In February, I went on a long-awaited retreat. I had been dreaming of spending a full day with a really good coach, someone who knows how to be really present and ask a lot of great questions, but not bring their own agenda. You may know that finding a great coach to do this can be tricky and especially since you want your energies to match up nicely and helps when they have some general idea or experience of what you’re working on though they don't have to be experts at it for sure. So I finally met my perfect coach for this and I got to spend a full day of vision day with Debbie Phillips and Debbie Phillips was on the podcast. I had her on the podcast a bit ago. We'll put her episode in the show notes. She's a world class coach, really incredible. I spent the day with Debbie really talking about my vision for my business and my life.
As you know, because I talk about it on the podcast, as I go through the wild ride of it, of entrepreneurship, I've had some sort of twists and turns and some periods of sabbatical taking hiatus while I think through what's next in my business and in my own messaging. So it was perfect timing because I was just coming off of my most recent hiatus and then I got to go spend this day really looking at what I wanted next for my business and my life. That's a cool thing about what Debbie offers is she never just talks to you about your business. It's about the whole picture. So while we did come up with some super exciting ideas for my work and also by the way, wonderful ones for my family, for ways that I could focus back in on some of those values that I have around spending time with my daughters and time with my husband, with Jim, and more meaningful ways.
We talked about all those things, but what struck me about the time together was how beautiful it was to reconnect with the heart of my message. This might sound funny since I'm a messaging coach, it's large, a huge part of what I do with clients, even as a speaking coach, but also as a business coach and an executive coach and all of those forums at the heart of the work, at the heart of what we're doing, we need to distill it to what do you care about and really what do you take a stand for in your life and your leadership in your work and in your business. It was beautiful to get to have somebody else witnessed that guide, that mentor, that process with me and also to just see shining so bright my own message, which unsurprisingly but still quite beautiful, hadn't changed that much.
One of the things that did come up and that comes up for me regularly and I also see come up with my clients is the struggle around who I serve. If you've heard me talk about the rooftop message, my rooftop message is pretty consistent as most people's rooftop message is. This is the thing that when it all just comes down to it, if you could just get up on a rooftop and shout this thing so people could hear it and they would pay attention to you because you were screaming from a rooftop, this is what you would want to say. Of course quite naturally if you think about it, there's a process of well who do you want to say it to? Is it the women in your life? Is it the parents in your life? Is it the teenagers? Is it executive leaders?
There is a process and we're actually going to talk about that in more detail. There is two parts to this rooftop message process that I'm going to talk with you about. We came back to, of course this glimmering just ever-present rooftop message of mine, which consent rooftop messages are not always super focused, right? You're just getting up on a rooftop and saying what you want to say. Mine always sounds something like, look, listen to me, beautiful people. Some of us are called to share our stories and our expertise and our leadership on behalf of others. We don't even necessarily know why we got that call, but the way you know that this is your call is you feel it and that's the only sign you need. It really is what I want to shout from the rooftop now especially that's what I want to shout from the rooftop when I am thinking about all of the business owners and leaders that I've worked with that I've talked with that I've been at events with.
I want to get on the rooftop and say that to them. You don't need anyone's permission. That call you feel is the sign, then the next step is just clarity and moving through. Of course, the state of mind and understanding where our charisma and our conviction comes from because you hear me talk about this a lot. There's a lot of misinformation that I see out in the world about where we're supposed to get our confidence in our conviction and our clarity. Spoiler alert, it all lives in you right now. I know that's annoying to hear because if you can't access it, you're like, what good does that do me? I'm telling you that it is looking there. It's recognizing the call, seeing that call. Can you hear, I'm on the rooftop right now, so back to my story and then we're actually going to work through this for you.
As I'm working with Debbie on, just getting clear on that, you know, coming back home to that message and how it applies to my work going forward, I'm just noticing how beautiful it is and there's still this tricky thing about who I want to serve. I work primarily and have historically worked a lot with coaches and wellness experts. A huge part of my work has been with coaches and wellness experts and I love it and it makes sense, right? Many people get into wellness, especially holistic wellness in various forms. It's a very wide range of, of ways that you can serve in that way and also into coaching because often they have a personal story that has had them move into those fields of work. A big part of what I do is help people tell those stories and get clarity on that message that they feel so much conviction around.
Again, usually because they have a personal story. It has been clear to me that this is an audience that I can serve regularly and that really needs this help and support. I love doing it and along the way, you know, as you're in business, after for a while you start to, you get referrals and then those referrals send you to new referrals. I've worked with over time some pretty amazing high-level leaders inside of companies. These are not people who, some of them are founders, so there's kind of like this crossover, they're founders, but they're running full teams and very successful companies. Also, there are leaders who just lead teams within a larger company and as I've gotten to know the unique struggles in those situations. Of course, I worked in corporate long ago too, so I remember it to some degree from that.
It was a long time ago. My heart goes there too, and I think, oh my gosh, I could help them too. I ended up doing executive coaching with those clients. Even when we've started with say, speaking coaching. and here I was in Florida with this kind of struggle that has been ever present in my mind, that just keeps coming up over the years in my business. I serve both audience with such a full heart. As Debbie and I worked through my offerings, I was thinking, it might be time for me to explore what I want to do and say in the executive coaching realm more deliberately. Now I'm already doing it and it's already happening kind of naturally, but it's more of a byproduct. It's not at the center of my messaging. So we made some, you know, we put together some plans and ideas and, and it was really fun.
Then I got home, this was early February, I got home and we were starting to put some things together here, but you know, it takes a little while to shift things around and start changing messaging and put together some of the pages on the website, all of that and then Covid-19 hit. As soon as that happened, it really made me ask myself again, okay, now given these circumstances, whatever I make up about these circumstances, by the way, because none of us knows exactly what others need. Everybody's kind of just finding our way, but when I asked myself that question, given these circumstances, who do I want to put my energy toward right now in my messaging as I call forth, call them forth to serve them. It was just so crystal clear to me even though I had made those changes and will so excitedly and happily serve the executive leaders out there.
Right now, my heart is with my coaches and wellness experts and by the way I say that, but I work with, you know, life. Coaches means life coaches, business coaches, all different productivity coaches. I've worked with amazing organizers and consultants. It is a little broader than that sounds, but there are people who are running businesses where they are at the helm and they might have a team of two or three people or they might just have a couple people who help them on projects. They are at the helm of their own Thought Leadership and their story is at the center. This epidemic, this difficult situation just brought me into a new kind of clarity. Now here's the thing I want to say. Well, two things I want to say. First of all, our heart knows, our heart knows you have so much wisdom in you when you're willing to just hear, first of all, when you're willing to feel whatever comes up as you go through this uncertain questioning period, if that's what you're going through.
What do I really want to say right now? How do I say it in the right way? Do I still want to say it to the same people? That is uncomfortable? One of the things that I would just love to invite you to consider is the power of being willing to sit with the discomfort of not knowing for a little while and wait for that wisdom to shine through because I promise you it is in there. I did not know right away for sure as many mornings sitting with coffee in bed with poor Jim who's like, oh, here we go. Another one of these conversations where I'm talking through what I'm thinking and what do I want to do with where I was going and what does this mean? The first thing is your heart knows. The second thing to remember is that you are always evolving.
There is just nothing static about we humans. We are in motion all the time. Your messages in motion, your devotion and sort of like the, the little pieces and elements are in motion. What I mean by that is not that one day you are devoted, the next day you're not. It's that you see new things about where serve, where to back off a little bit, where you need to take care of yourself a little bit so that you can move back in and serve more powerfully for a period of time. Whatever you decide right now in these strange circumstances, you are going to shift it and it's okay. I hope that by saying that that glimmer can shine brighter than it lets a bunch of thoughts fall away about trying to do this perfectly or right in any way because that has never been really the option.
It’s kind of seemed like it was. We would go back and forth with whether we should do this or whether we should do that. It totally reminds me of my fabulous, I've probably mentioned this a number of times, my fabulous podcast interview with Carra Lowenthal. We'll put that in the show notes too. Carla says, people are usually asking, should I do this or not or should I do this or that? She is like, that's the wrong question. Like it doesn't matter. Do something and so this too about your message. I'm going to give you some of course support around tapping into the clarity that you already have that helps. You know what? That's something that next something might be, so I want you to have the kind of grounded clarity that I got to experience in this process, in this process of going to Florida, spending those couple of days with this world-class coach who was just really there to listen and support and ask amazing questions and offer up thoughts in service of my own decision making that process and making a plan that felt super exciting to me.
Coming home, starting to implement on that plan, which of course means investment of time and money, energy, bringing people on my team and on projects and then going, oh, wait a minute, something's very different. All of a sudden stepping back, being in the discomfort again, and then making a new move. I want you to have the kind of grounded clarity that I got through all of that. Hopefully by talking you through this. By the way, if you don't all just dirt while you're listening to this podcast episode, that won't surprise me, but I hope this will be a glimmer for you, like a tap in to that glimmer so that you can start looking at these questions and I'm really going to talk you through the process. I'll tell you, I'm going to talk you through this process, but in case you're walking or you're probably not driving, but otherwise in motion cleaning the kitchen, which is when I'm often listening to podcast interviews or cooking something, don't worry, there's actually, we're creating a mini course that's totally free to you that you'll be able to access and then work through this process.
I'll give you even a little more guidance, but I want you to get a feel for what this process looks like. So the first part of tapping into your own crystal clear message, that message that's going to keep you grounded during these really uncertain times. The first part is that rooftop message. Just like I talked about, I want to shout from the rooftops that some of us are called to share our stories and expertise. Let me ask you, and I want you to just take a moment to go through this. I'm going to take you through this exercise. Okay? You might just have to hit pause if you actually want to do this during this episode, if you want to take more time to write this down, but you could also just think it through. The first thing is I want you to close your eyes if you can, or at least just kind of get a real soft gaze because I want you to picture something in your mind.
I want some thoughts to fall away, some space to show up in your mind. You're in this little town and in this town, the streets are full of people and these people are struggling and they're saying to each other, I'm so tired of this. I feel like I have tried everything. I have no idea what to do next and you are standing among these people and you are thinking, I could totally help them. Like this is the very thing that I can help with and you try to tell a couple of people near you, but there is too much chaos and they can't hear you. You look off to the right and you see this building and against the building, there is a ladder and it leads up to this reasonably flat roof. You walk over to the ladder, you climb up, you stand on the edge of that rooftop, you cup your hands around your mouth, and you say, listen to me, beautiful people.
Here is what you need to know to make your lives better. What would you say from that rooftop? And as you think this over, if you haven't paused and you need to pause, go ahead and do that so that you can think that a little bit more through. As you think about what you are saying from this rooftop, I want you to tap into your heart because sometimes what we want to show from the rooftop legitimately is like, listen to me people. Stop killing yourselves by eating sugar. Something like that, which I get it. I get that you want to shout that from the rooftop and I want you to try to tap the message that says, I see you, I get you, I know what you want and I can help. Now you do not have to get all of that into this cause that's just kind of my four, my four elements of great marketing.
Just have that in your heart and mind like this is about you see them and you want them to know that you see them and that you can help. So the first thing that you say from the rooftop, it's raw. You can't really get this wrong. You're just kind of, even though I gave you that guidance, I do want you to tap into your heart and say it in a way that they can hear it. Well, you don't want us for them to all down, right? If they are like, if you say, listen to me beautiful people, you are being rude or something obnoxious, they are probably going to be like, okay, I'm not listening to you. Who are you? Right? Remember good about influence, influence. If you want to influence someone, those four things are what matter. I see you; I get you; I know what you want, and I can help.
You are starting with this raw message, that is your rooftop message and then you have this refinement of your rooftop message and this really happens when you get clear about who is on those streets. The question here is who does your heart most want to serve? If we go back to the story that I told you earlier about me asking that question when I was on this retreat in Florida and I was like, oh God, I feel like my heart wants to go in the direction of exploring how I can serve even more in the executive leader, with the executive leader world in the executive leader world. Then when I got home and Covid-19 was in place, I was like, oh my people, you know, that I've been serving for all this time, I really want to serve them. You may have a little bit of, you know, you probably have a few audiences, but look for the one at the lead.
Look for the one at the lead eye. This is the thing that a lot of people tell me that they struggle with, but my message, what I have to teach will help everyone. Me too. I mean we all need to influence people in our lives and I could absolutely say that what I teach is powerful for parents, teachers, teenagers, business leaders, right? All of it, but if I try to do that, I can't speak to any one person's life experience. So when I focus my energy on coaches and wellness experts, then I can say things like, listen to me, beautiful coaches and wellness experts. That story that is really driving your desire to serve in this way. It is a tremendous gift for the people who you are meant to serve. Well, that wouldn't necessarily make any sense for the parents or the teenagers or so that's why getting crystal clear on one particular audience allows you to serve in an even more powerful way.
Remember the same thing applies here. This doesn't have to be forever. You are fluid. Things will change. This doesn't have to be who you serve forever, but let it be who you devote yourself to for now so that you get this clear message for them in place. Let me give you some examples from my book Beyond Applause, which you can get a copy of for free at www.michellebarryfranco.com/freebook. Oprah Winfrey, I'm going to do a couple of famous people, Oprah Winfrey. Now I'm making up what she would shout from the rooftop. I didn't ask her. It'd be delightful to get to ask her, but I didn't, but my guess is she'd say something, you are meant to live your best life. That's what she wants to say and remember, we're not trying to do this perfectly. We are just trying to hone-in on what is the thing that you really feel strongly about saying in the world.
Another example, Bernie Brown, take the risk, be vulnerable because that is where we experience our greatest life and be very selective about whose opinions you take to heart. Again, she has other messages, other things at various times that she would shout if she had a different audience. Right? She does a lot of stuff with leaders now, but I just want you to see that it can just be what comes to you, what's at the heart of it, and then it gets refined. Let me give you some examples of how this can be refined with non-famous people with just some, some regular messages. Let us say we have an audience that is mothers of young children and so the first message, the general rooftop message is what we eat affects every aspect of our lives. You are a health coach, nutritionist, and you just want to shout from the rooftops.
Listen, people, what we eat affects every aspect of our lives, but your heart really wants to serve mothers of young children. Maybe that was a real struggle for you when your children were young and so this gets shifted. This gets refined to listen to me, beautiful mamas. I know you want to take amazing care of your babies. I also know that you're exhausted and there's never enough time in a day. I want you to know that you can feed your kids food that they'll enjoy, that is healthy, that will help them thrive every day. You see how it gets so refined and you can speak to the details of their lives when you're willing to really get intimately connected with the person who's on those streets, the person that you want to serve with your message. Let's do another example. Let's use that same general rooftop message and a different audience.
The general rooftop messages, what we eat affects every aspect of our lives. Now the audience has changed. It is athletes. So the refined rooftop message would be, listen to me, beautiful athletes. I know that you work hard to play at the highest levels in your game and I know that you want to take amazing care of your body. I also know that the information out there is a very confusing about the right foods to eat, for endurance, for strength, and for clarity of mind. I want you to know that there is a way to feed your body and your athletic drive every day in a way that is simple and efficient that you can keep playing your sport at the level that you want to play. You see how all of a sudden with that, with the clarity of my audience, that rooftop message gets really specific, really useful and really loving, right?
It's saying, I see you, I get you, I know what you want and I can help you can do all of that with the refinement of your rooftop message. Now I'm going to take this one step further with you and in fact, I don't even have it in, not in this way and Beyond Applause, the book. That's the beautiful thing and the interesting thing about creating a book, it's so cool because you can create a book that's easy to hand to people and give them a PDF like I just offered you earlier, but it's not as, it's not as flexible, right? So that's why we're creating this mini course. So you can use the mini course to take you through this whole process all the way through the way that I would love for you to articulate your stand, the stand that you take.
The process goes like this. You have a rooftop message. It's raw. You just start shouting it from the rooftop. Then you get even clearer on who are you shouting that message to? What do they care about? What are their struggles? What are they thinking throughout the day? What are they thinking at 3:00 AM when they wake up and they can't sleep? What are they most struggling with? When you know all of that, you can craft a refined rooftop message that really speaks to their hearts and minds. Then what I want for you is a really clear stand. The stand you take is at the heart of all of your Thought Leadership, it's really taking that refined message and turning it into something that you can print out and put on the wall next to your work area. This isn't something you necessarily say to people. It's more of an inward facing.
It's an internal document. Now you're going to use it for lots of things. Your website copy articles, you write, your speeches, talks, breakout sessions, all the different kinds of speaking your webinar. It's really at the heart of everything you do. Here is the way that I'd love you to take your stand. It goes like this. I take a stand for who do you serve and remember we just talked about that in these examples. You could say busy moms with very young children, you could say, I take a stand for college athletes, whatever, whoever the people are that you most want to serve. Okay, the second part is that they can, and basically this is what they want, right? If we're talking about the moms who, the busy moms with young children who are worried about their food, I take a stand for busy moms with young children that they can feed their kids food that is healthy and delicious. Even if or when is the third part? Even if when, what is the biggest perceived obstacle for that ideal client of yours? If I use the busy moms, I take a stand for busy moms, busy moms with small children that they can feed their children healthy food that is also delicious even when they feel like they've tried everything and their kids only like pasta and cheese.
Oh my gosh, resonating with that. Anyway, so that's how you break down. Take the refinement of your stand. Again, we'll do all of this in the course and you'll get a handout and everything that you can write it all down in. Those are some examples of ways you can do it. Let me do it for the college athlete too, just to give you another example. I take a stand for college athletes that they can create healthy meals quickly, even if or when they feel like they have no cooking skills whatsoever. You can say even when or even if you don't have to say if or when, it's just sometimes one fits more than the other. Those are just some examples. I really want you to do this in your own life and then I really want you to print it out and put it next to where you're working so that you are just always checking in on the stand that you take.
This is how your crystal clear stamped this message at the heart of your work. This'll keep you grounded. When everything else around you feels kind of topsy turvy. This is what you take a stand for. No matter what else is going on outside in the world, inside your business or in your life. This is going to help you get connected with that grounded place within you. I do not talk about the stand this way in my book, Beyond Applause, you will get all kinds of great examples. I highly recommend reading those using the process in the book, but the last part about that little, I call it a mad lib. I take a stand for that. They can even if or when is new since I wrote the book. We will have that inside of the quick course that you can get for free. We will have a link to that inside the show notes as well and by the way, the link to get that will be https://brillianceatwork.com/messageclarity.
As I said, this stand is at the heart of everything you say and do in your business. It's your home base. When your sweet brain tells you that you're confused and you lack clarity because it will. That's what our brains do, but reminder, you are not your brain. You are the devoted leader who knows that you're meant to serve. Your brain is your assistant, but sometimes it takes its job too seriously. It starts to save you when it doesn't need to save you and it tells you don't do that. It's too dangerous. Like the over-protective sister who won't let guys in her grade ask you out because you're younger and she doesn't want you to get hurt. Maybe that's a little window into my history.
My point is your brain is going to rise and tell you do not have clarity, that things are too confusing, that you are overwhelmed and that's okay. That is what brains do, but I want you to look in a different spot. There's nothing you have to do about that because in my experience, when you turn your attention away from all of that thinking and trying to fix what your brain is doing and doing quite naturally, you just get caught up more in your thinking. I want you to go to that glimmer, place in you that knows you're meant to serve with this message and then let this process guide you. Use it like play, see what comes up for you, see what shows up and how it feels for you. Here's the thing, the way you'll know when you have this message right when you have the stand that is really at the heart of your work right now is it'll feel really good to you.
I've seen it happen over and over again with clients as we're working through this process. They go, yeah, that's it. That's it. You'll have the, yeah, that's it. That's it. Feeling show up in you and I know that and I know you'll recognize that feeling because you know that place in you. The reason you're here listening to this, the reason you keep coming back to this podcast is because you are, you are called to serve in this way. This is your call. You were made for this and you know that. I know that because you know that, I cannot wait to hear what stands shows up for you. Share it with me on social media. Share it with me in the comments. Send me an email. I don't care how you share it with me. I would love, love to hear what you come up with and I will cheer you on and whatever medium you send it over to me as I'm always cheering you on and I already as every week.
Can't wait to be here with you next week. Take good care. Thank you so much for being here with me on the Brilliance At Work Podcast. If you want to know how to tap your own most natural charisma as a business owner, leader, and speaker, you can download a free copy of my book. Beyond Applause, Make a Meaningful Difference Through Transformational Speaking. This includes a free short course that helps you get crystal clear on the message at the heart of your work. You can get a free copy of this book and that short course http://brillianceatwork.com/freebook. I hope you'll love it.
Enjoy The Show?
- Don’t miss an episode, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or RSS.
- Leave me a review in Apple Podcasts.
- Join the conversation by leaving a comment below!