Remember the How I Met Your Mother episode about how Barney could never look bad in a photograph? Well … I’m definitely NOT Barney. It all started in childhood. Every school picture, every birthday party shot, every family photo -- when I smile, my eyes squint to almost closing. Or lots of times, my eyes actually close. My high school secured a professional photographer to take our senior pictures. We all made appointments at his intown photography studio, and unlike my Sears and Olan Mills photos, these photos promised to be professional (and were very pricey!). I scheduled a hair appointment to prepare and even wore real make-up (I’m talking foundation and everything!). I wish I remembered the photo shoot itself (I remember that I changed clothes a few times), but I do remember the excitement when I went back to the studio to preview the pictures. And would you believe -- my eyes were closed in EVERY picture. You heard me -- EVERY picture. Now remember this was WAY before digital cameras, but I do blame the photographer a bit. I’m sure he could see how my eyes squinted when I smiled, so I think he should have worked with me to open my eyes wider or smile a bit less. But I’m pretty sure that his schedule was jam-packed with appointments, and he just needed to get me out for the next senior to come in. This lack of effort only cost him more time. I had to come back to re-take my pictures (although this time there was no hair appointment). And although my eyes are open in the second batch, I can tell that I wasn’t as excited about the second shoot. Fast forward to this past weekend -- Karen and I needed new professional head-shots for an upcoming conference, so I called a friend who takes fantastic pictures, Julie Glenn of Photography by Julie. We had a vision for our shots -- professional but casual; confident but warm; and of course, younger but not fake! Poor Julie -- we were asking a lot! We met at a beautiful park with the sun shining and the wind blowing. I shared with Julie all of my picture-taking flaws, but she didn’t seem all that worried about getting good shots. After an hour of fighting the sun glaring on my glasses and making sure that hair was not flying up in the air, Julie ended our session with, “I think I got some good shots.” For the next few hours I fretted about those silly pictures. What happens if my eyes are closed again? What if Julie could not get any good ones? But as you can see from our new pictures, Julie did a great job!! We love them! She truly captured all of the qualities we hoped to demonstrate. So how did she do it? Julie followed a very simple but effective communication strategy: she “modeled” for us how to model. Instead of telling us how to pose or where to look, she actually put herself in the position to show us what to do. She took the extra time to walk over to the gazebo and lean over the rail or stand next to the pole. And when she was taking the shots, she tilted her head or leaned in so we could easily copy her movements. The extra time she used to model for us saved time in the long run. We completely understood what she wanted because she showed us what she wanted. We can all learn from Julie and apply this strategy in our professional and personal lives. etc Strategies believes that modeling is the very best way to communicate. Show people what you mean instead of just telling them. Find ways to demonstrate behaviors including good communication skills. Research shows that modeling behaviors increases productivity and positivity in the workplace, so work to avoid the “do what I say not what I do” mentality and actually “do” what you want others to imitate and adopt. After our successful photo shoot, Karen and I plan to become America’s Next Top Models -- not for photographs, but in our business as we model successful communication strategies. Let us help you become a successful model too. And maybe we can get Julie to take your picture!!