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Experts! Speak English Podcast

with your host Corinne Wilhelm

Excuses or Excellence #161


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Talk your way into an international career without the bullshit!

Day to Day Distractions That Add Up

As I sit here at my desk, I can hear the neighbours filling up a swimming pool with deliciously cold, clean water to swim in. In fact I better get a wriggle on because it will be too loud to record a podcast soon. 

It would be tempting on a hot day like today as a self employed consultant and coach to head off into the sunshine and slurp on an ice cube laden Iced Coffee wouldn’t it? I’m sure that is what plenty of people think we do but let’s not waste any head space on what other people think – way to exhausting and a complete waste of time as a rule.

The thing is that discipline is the key ingredient keeping success and failure at opposite ends of the spectrum. Every time we make an excuse or come up with an explanation for not doing something immediately, thoroughly or completely, we’re letting ourselves down and possibly our team members or manager too. Whether it is focusing on diet, exercise, work or relationships, every time we put it off or play it down, we’re slowing down our progress. Excuses put a spanner in the works. Every time we come with a reason for not doing something, in reality, we are compromising our reputation.

Every time we fail to deliver, we lose face.
Every time we deliver late, we are taken less seriously.
Every time we take a short cut or go for the minimalist approach, we’re inadvertently labelling ourselves as sloppy.

Communication Fuels Leadership (or lack of it)

Now this is a podcast show about corporate communication but actually if you think about it, leadership is driven by communication. So whether it is self leadership, thought leadership or board leadership, the way that you lead – whether it be by setting a good or a bad example, we are setting the tone, lowering or raising the bar or setting a precedent. Actions speak louder as words as we say in the UK.

Excuses may feel like a logical source of relief in the moment, but they make you feel lousy later, don’t they?

Let’s be real about this, there is judgement around whether you a) make an effort or b) make excuses.

The justification that goes on inside your head is your brain keeping you safe, giving you a life raft for that guilt.

But playing it safe does not make it easy to stand out, playing it safe doesn’t deliver impressive results, playing it safe destroys innovation.

Getting More Intentional about excuses and explanations

So start making decisions now based on where you want to be and the touchpoints that you need to get there. This weekend on the hottest day of the year – a day when quite frankly I wanted to hide from the world, I resisted the temptation to make an excuse after all I am part of a team. Letting yourself down is hard enough but letting someone else down is an awful feeling isn’t it? So I braved the heat, weighed down with post it notes, coffee, signs and much more to attend the Club Officers Training for Toastmasters, here in Berlin.  I as one of three area directors who had organised the event and we had a pretty awesome line up of workshops, if I do say so myself. 

There was an incredibly inspiring session led by Friederike and Hanjo (full names in the show notes) where we had a kind of washing line with numbers, taking us step by step from joining Toastmasters to becoming an division director, which is one step up from where I am now. There were almost 40 touch points and although every Toastmasters journey is unique, the exercise was to give some kind of logical journey so that we could support other Toastmasters more as they navigate their way to leadership and speaking excellence.

Check out the blog post to go with this podcast at englishspeakingexperts/161 to see what the board looked like, it took up a whole wall and was quite impressive.


Club Officers Training (COT) with 'washing line touch point' fiinished activity in background #Toastmasters
Left to Right - Corinne Wilhelm, Markus Wagner, Yuchen Zhang, Stella Covaci #Toastmasters COT

Hanjo Lu and Friederike Galland teamed up to deliver this excellent

Stumbling Through Your Career or Designing It

It occurred to me on my way home as I was thinking about some of my career coaching clients, that many people kind of stumble blindly through their career seeing it as a kind of game of chance, don’t they? Yet if you think about it logically you can map out your route and then think strategically about how you are going to gain the experience and skills to make that become a reality.

It’s all about being intentional and having some super solid goals in place. That does not mean that there is no room to slow down, deviate or take a break but having the route in mind, keeps you on track, doesn’t it?

If you have found yourself talking to yourself or your friends and colleagues using the passive tense with things like “We’ll wait and see”, “Let’s see if I get selected for promotion” or perhaps “I’ll be lucky enough to put on that sexy new international project” then the chances are that you are not taking control of your career, you are going with the flow.

Fear of Success

This incremental approach or laissez faire style of leadership, could well be a fear of failure or let’s face it, for many women it is a fear of success. 

Fear of success, Corinne! I hear you cry, now that sounds like a luxury problem! But actually it isn’t. In a society where women have been socialised since time began to play second fiddle, ear ning more and achieving more than your partner can create some very genuine tension, as the roles being played are readdressed, especially if you have children. It takes a self confident guy to give women the support that they too have received for years.


Show That You Are Reliable

But I digress. Ultimately it comes back to demonstrating your trustworthiness.

Can people rely on you?
Can they depend on you?
Will you get it done on time?
Will you deliver the quality that your team would want to be associated with?
Will they ask if they need help or make excuses?


Temporary Glumness or Time to Take it Up a Notch

You need to determine whether an excuse is a short term fix or a more deep routed disinterest. If you are quietly quitting and doing the bare minimum, who are you trying to deceive?
It’s a bit like going swimming and eating salad when everyone is around but indulging in chocolate behind closed doors. That doesn’t reverse the damage unfortunately – I know, I’ve tried it!

It can be tempting as a leader or a coach to let people off the hook.
We want to be nice.
Nice people don’t give others a hard time.
Life happens and all that. 

But as a coach I am learning to find that sweet spot between giving people the time and flexibility to get through my VIP WhatsApp Booster tasks for example but I do have a system in place to keep them on my toes. Keeping people accountable is what moves the needle of performance so I have started making a star next to the activities that they haven’t done and reminding about those from time to time. They’re there for as long as I am in their phone but we all know that the longer you leave things, the less likely you are to do it. 

So what’s kind about not keeping people accountable? I want to be the kind of coach that keeps people accountable. 


Coco's Communication Challenge

So Coco’s communication challenge this week is to do a mini evaluation of your your own decision making and behaviour. What have the negative outcomes been? Those outcomes that you could have done without?

A lack of sleep perhaps?
An embarrassing conversation
Feeling phoney in front of your children, team members or boss.

A lack of career performance, due to a lack of commitment to your responsibilities, tasks and projects is going to have an impact on your career progression but also let’s be honest on your mental health.


Don't Talk To Yourself Like That!

When we feel like crap then we talk to ourselves like crap. Honestly I speak to myself sometimes in a way that I would be horrified if I heard someone talking to someone else that way. That’s not healthy and very ineffective either.

If you know that you are smarter than the guy who just got promoted and you know deep down that you have been letting yourself and your team down, that feels incredibly short sighted and stupid. That opportunity has gone and now you have to work on regaining your reputation again – an uphill struggle, it’s possible but unnecessary.

If you are fed up with your job, if you cannot find the energy to deliver as expected then look for another role where you can grow, but using excuses and exceptions is simply not kind to yourself, nor does it set a good example for your team or your family.

Don’t forget our kids notice everything and those short cuts, shrugging things off as something that can wait or I’ll do it next week, then that sets the tone for their interpretation of career commitment – or commitment at all actually – even in a relationship.

Discipline starts with YOU supporting yourself

This podcast was inspired by the fact that despite my climate friendly values I drove to swimming this week, not once but twice. I bought groceries this morning and couldn’t resist helping myself to some biscuits whilst waiting for the toast to pop out of the toaster. Not exactly conducive to my diet, right? Sometimes I throw away plastic because I am too lazy to clean away that stubborn greasiness. But this lack of discipline made me feel rotten all week. 

But I have a plan, I’ve now converted my trip to the pool into my mobile office. I check in on my WhatsApp Fluency Booster VIPs with my coaching insights and communication challenges from my phone on the way there I check in on my Instagram and Linkedin accounts on the way back so that there is absolutely no need to check the socials later in the day. I’m turning a negative into a positive and being more disciplined not only about my sport but also about my commitment to climate in a way that gets me to be more productive and on top of things. It feels great.

So if you have ever managed to turn excuses into opportunities I would love to hear from you, I’ll add it to the show notes with your permission of course.

What's your excuse?

If you enjoy the show and love tuning in for a new episode, then what’s your excuse for not giving the show a review or rating? It’s not actually that easy to do to be fair but in this week’s show notes, I made a deliberate point of eliminating any excuses, so I have put a link there to all of the shows, if you scroll right to the bottom it takes you to exactly the right place to leave your words of appreciation in just one click.

So here is the link (right below)

Indulge me and other potential listeners with one of your success stories as a result of following through with the communication challenges that come with each show.

In addition to making me feeling appreciated you’ll also be actively helping to make the show more visible to other people just like you and me on a mission to optimize our communication for the sake of our careers.

The following instructions are for an iphone.

Pensive dark skinned young ethnic woman keeps index finger on temple tries to remember telephone num
Vocabulary - Business Meeting Phrases

Whats App Fluency Booster

So in this episode I mentioned the WhatsApp Fluency Booster.

This is something that a lot of people are taking advantage of over the summer months to get their English really sounding great!

Because great communication isn’t just about what you say, it’s about how you say it.

But you can’t move onto the how to say it part if you are still grappling to find the words or you’re not really feeling comfortable when you are speaking in English.

* Because it is only when you speak in English that the opportunities open up.

* It’s only when you actually speak in English that you actually sound like the expert.

* It is only when you speak up in English that you feel like the expert.

So this is a programme that you can sign up for.

It’s a monthly subscription, you can stop any time, you just send me one message in the WhatsApp account that we have been using and it’s finished. Dead easy to cancel.

This programme gives me an opportunity to help you step out of your linguistic comfort zone.

So if you are very comfortable listening to the podcast but you still try not to say anything in English, you’ll tend to send an email instead… these are signs that you need to work on your speaking skills.

What to expect on the WhatsApp Fluency Booster Programme

So what can you expect. Well, I will send you conversation challenges, I will send you vocabulary quizzes and games , I will send you how to videos about grammar if it is necessary.


Everything is based on what you need. So this is not a standard programme, this is a VIP, tailor made programme, to your needs, your career, your weaknesses, your learning styles. It’s not a cookie cutter programme, it is a VIP programme just for you. It’s just more accessible, more accessible because it is on your phone via WhatsApp.

Sound interesting? If so click on the link in the show notes and it will take you straight to the place that it is all explained and you can pay there and then:

As soon as you have paid, we can start. SIMPLE

It’s really popular and it is really great that I’ve got this programme. It’s something that I have been doing with my VIPs for 20 years so it is really quite refined and I’m really quite proud of how it works now.

What my clients say about it

VIP clients tell me that it gives them the feedback and fluency that they’ve never had before hence the name, “The Fluency Booster”.

So if you want to get really easy, accessible support with your Business English from a native speaker who has worked in the corporate world at management level and you are ready to take it to the next level, let’s get cracking shall we?

Perhaps after the summer, applying for a new jobs, going for a promotion, asking for a pay rise,  then let’s get your English up to a speed, so that you feel comfortable to take your career to the next level. 

You deserve it!

That’s it from me, have a fantastic week and I’ll speak to you very soon, possible I’ll be in your What’sApp before then.

And if you can’t wait until the next episode on the

Thursday 3rd of August
Episode 161 –
Leadership Reading List

then I’ll be in touch with nuggets of knowledge, fabulous feedback and conversation challenges via your very own WhatsApp Booster programme.