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Blog: Your Personality, Your Opinions, Your Interview. Perfected.


August 15, 2012 ~ Lessons Learned from the London Olympic Games


The dust has settled, the crowds have gone, and TV has returned to its normal programming, but the lessons from the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games will live on throughout the rest of time. Many of these lessons are applicable to each of you as you prepare for the next big competition, brush up on your interview tips, or network to find the just right job. Two standout individuals in particular bring many of these lessons to light. They are 17-year old swimming star, Missy Franklin, and 15-year old gymnast extraordinaire, Gabby Douglas. Both young ladies are incredible role models for teens today and have inspired people of all ages to strive to achieve the seemingly impossible.


Lesson 1 - Secret Sauce of Faith and Hard Work: Believe with unwavering faith that you can achieve your goals. With the support of your family, friends, and spiritual beliefs, anything is possible. I think it's important to keep a healthy dose of reality and perspective throughout the process. Certainly for any endeavor you have to develop the skills required to do the job and put in a lot of "blood, sweat, and tears" as Gabby Douglas describes. But her story is one of total faith and overcoming adversity. A year before the Olympic games many believed that she would not even qualify for the US team. Not only did she qualify, but she went on to be the first African American gymnast in history to receive a gold medal in the individual All Around Olympic competition. This was all despite living away from her family with a host family for over a year in order to train with renowned Coach Liang Chow. What are the obstacles standing in your way? How can you through faith, determination, and hard work overcome these challenges?


Lesson 2 - Make the most of each moment: I've been reading an incredible book by Mike Van Hoozer, called  Moments, in which he describes how we can make the most of each moment of our lives. To live in it, to embrace it, to respond to it. Whether it's a big competition, spending time with your family, preparing for a presentation, vacationing, or moving through the daily grind of school or work, we need to be present in the moment and make the most of it showing the best of our abilities. Many athletes only get one Olympic Games throughout their career, sometimes two based on their age and when they peak in their sport. But you can think of it as one shot. One shot to put it all on the line and perform at their very best. Both Missy and Gabby did just that, and so can you!


Lesson 3 - Poise: Both ladies were in the media spotlight a lot during the Olympic games and time after time hit what I would consider interview home runs with their personalities, humor, and bright / engaging demeanor. It was obvious that they were comfortable in their own skin and talked to the reporters like they were having an everyday conversation. Check out some of their finer moments in the links above. What can you tweak in your interview to achieve the same level of grace and poise?



June 30, 2011 ~ Crowning Expectations

Summer is upon us and we are "hot and heavy" in state pageant competition season. Win, lose, or draw, you need to be able to walk away from pageant week with the satisfaction that you performed at your personal best. You may have heard the phrase "different judges, different girl" meaning that pageants are subjective. Judges do their best to stick to the judging criteria, but they are human and may have felt a stronger connection with one contestant over another. This is why it’s so important to be yourself and perfect the art of the “conversational interview” so you can engage with the judges quickly and easily.

Unfortunately, not every girl can win. It is a competition. If you don’t place as high as you hoped, please be gracious and respectful of the winner and her family. You and your supporters might have negative comments that want to spill out, but keep those to yourself until you can discuss them in private. No one likes a sore user.

You should treat this as an experience to learn, grow, and expand a set of lifelong skills such as interview, poise, and professionalism that will carry you forward and help you stand out in every aspect of your future life (college interviews, job interviews, school and work presentations, meetings, networking events, etc.) No matter where you go in life, people will be naturally drawn to you in a crowded room because your pageant experience has helped you develop that extra “polish” that most young women don’t get the chance to develop until much later in life.

Take it from someone who has been there, winning is amazing and losing is definitely not fun, but I would not be where I am today without the skills I developed during pageants. Treat your pageant as an opportunity to better yourself, to grow in self confidence, and to achieve your personal best. If I can be of any help throughout your pageant journey, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Wishing you the best of luck!


October 2, 2010

Can't believe it's been 10 months since my last entry. That's what happens when you are wedding planning. I'm now a married woman and settling back into real life. The spring and summer were a flurry of activity with Miss Houston and Miss Texas USA contestants. Pleased to have two clients in the Top 5 at Miss Texas USA and looking forward to hopefully having clients in the Top 5 at Miss Texas Teen USA as well.


December 31, 2009 ~ 2009 Reflections

What a year! Can’t believe how fast 2009 has gone by. I launched this business a mere 9 months ago and have been thrilled with the positive response from the pageant community. Talking Points has trained a number of lovely young ladies for local and state pageants in Washington state and Texas. I’m so proud of two big state pageant wins – Devanni Partridge, Miss Washington 2009, and Chelsea Morgenson, Miss Texas Teen USA 2010. Congratulations ladies! As I look back on 2009, I can only hope that Talking Points can help even more young ladies achieve their dreams through interview coaching. Wishing you and yours a super joyous, very healthy, and wonderfully successful 2010!


November 1, 2009 ~ Don't buy "Skinny"

Ok, so I’m all about being in shape and staying fit, but this is plain ridiculous. Apparently, Ralph Lauren has changed the sizing on their sample clothes that they make for models to wear in runway shows to smaller than in the past. As a result, they have fired one of their top models, Filippa Hamilton, for being “too fat.” Unfortunately, by regular standards, Filippa is the furthest thing from fat. She’s 5’10” and 120 pounds. In fact, many nutritionists and doctors may argue that Filippa is underweight for someone her height. I know it can be tough as a pageant contestant to maintain a healthy body image, but, I urge you to feel confident in your own skin and comfortable with your body, no matter what size. If not, the stress, the discomfort, the anxiety will cause irreparable damage to your very psyche. While you’re too consumed with not being happy with yourself, the judges have selected the girl standing next to you who is completely happy with who she is.


October 3, 2009 ~ Bad Role Models

Where has 2009 gone?? Can’t believe it’s been nearly 6 months since the official launch of Talking Points. A lot has happened since then including two Talking Points clients going on to BIG wins at Miss Houston USA (Angy Torres) and Miss Washington (Devanni Partridge). Congrats to both of them and to the number of Talking Points clients that have made the semi-finals of their respective competitions.


Anyone catch the MTV Video Music Awards? What’s the deal with Lady Gaga and her craziness? For someone so talented she sure is a weirdo! Talk about NOT a good example for young girls and teens. She for sure staged a suicide hanging on stage at the end of her performance complete with fake blood and everything. She then had to come out with a statement saying that she doesn’t condone suicide. I heard about the apology statement on the news, but can’t seem to find a link to it online. AND her outfits!? What’s up with that? So out of control! I really like her music and everything, but can’t believe that her super out there personality is actually helping her sell records. Is this going to be the trend for all future famous female singers?? I sure hope not!


PS – Don’t even get me started on Kanye West and his complete and utter lack of respect for Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech. What is this world coming to! Thank goodness for wholesome pageant titleholders who play a HUGE role in positively influencing the lives of all those they meet.




May 26, 2009 ~ Miss CA USA Controversy


Congratulations to Miss Texas USA, Brooke Daniels, for placing Top 10 at Miss USA! All of Texas is very proud of your accomplishment.

Now that the dust has settled, lights have dimmed, and the contestants have returned home, I thought I’d weigh in on the whole “Miss California USA Controversial Answer” topic.

So…let’s be serious, I definitely got a little carried away with this blog entry. It reads more as a newsletter article than a blog! Enjoy…

Recent news headlines have said, “Miss California emerges as ‘opposite marriage’ spokesperson” and “Miss California USA 2009 Speech. OUCH!” For those of you who missed it, Miss California’s Top 5 answer at Miss USA Live Telecast can be found here.

The question posed was…““Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”


Regardless of your view on gay marriage or your feelings about Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean, we all can agree on the following:


1. The contestant did not answer the question

2. The contestant failed to evaluate her audience

3. The contestant did not have a firm understanding of the topic


From my perspective, Miss California USA, made three common mistakes that many other contestants also make as they stand on-stage for their final question. Here’s how I think contestants can handle the topic of gay marriage as well as overcome similar challenging current event questions:


  • Answer the question that is asked: Miss California USA was not asked to provide a blanket viewpoint on gay marriage. She was, however, asked to provide her thoughts on what the state of Vermont should do regarding gay marriage legislation. Some people will say that these are the same thing, but they are not. They are subtly different and make a BIG difference in the direction you take your response.

  • Know your audience: This is Communication 101. Let’s take the example of a 6th grade science teacher. If the teacher is teaching about robotics, which is a very complicated, technical subject given the nature of the science terms, the teacher will carefully choose words to describe the robotics subject that 6th graders can absorb and understand.

Similarly, Miss California USA, is running for a national title to represent all of the United States. The question was posed to her by an openly homosexual judge, Perez Hilton. As a result, she should have recognized the need to choose her words carefully in expressing her opinion in order to provide a strong non-polarizing answer. People, including judges, have distinct viewpoints, backgrounds, values, and experiences that shape the way they think and feel. As a result, contestants need to be mindful that their opinions may be in stark opposition to a judge’s opinion and should respond to controversial topics with a level of understanding and empathy for the other side.

With that said…I, however, firmly believe that judges should attempt to keep their personal beliefs and viewpoints neutral while judging as best they can in order to prevent an un-fair bias swaying the outcome of the pageant. In addition, I’m not an advocate of judges speaking negatively about the pageant or its contestants once the competition is over. Perez Hilton’s words and actions post-Miss USA were unprofessional and an unfortunate representation of the homosexual community.


· Be familiar with the key issue of current events: Every current event has a key issue that is at the heart of the matter. The key issue(s) is so contentious that it makes these topics controversial and cause heated discussions. For the topic of gay marriage, the key issue is NOT what you call the long-standing relationships that homosexuals participate in, but the key issue IS around the rights and benefits associated with the term “marriage.” From inheritance to tax benefits, one of the best examples is hospital visitation rights that are reserved for family members. This benefit would allow homosexual couples’ to visit their partner in the hospital when they are sick and/or on their death bed. Everyone, again, regardless of your view on homosexuality and gay marriage, can identify with the very real human suffering that people experience when a loved one is in the hospital. This key issue of rights/benefits in relation to the topic of gay marriage is critical to having a full understanding of the many facets of this very controversial current event topic.


At the end of the day, I don’t believe that Miss California USA’s opinion on gay marriage expressed in her response to the final question cost her the crown, but her inability to answer the question effectively, keeping in mind the three points outlined above, that caused her response to be not as well received as some of the other Top 5 contestant’s responses.


Congrats are in order for Miss California USA though for handling herself with grace and poise at the recent news conference held by Donald Trump and the Miss USA organization. Even under embarrassing accusations of alleged nude photos, I found Miss California USA to be very sincere and well spoken during her press conference. Check it out here.


Well, this is what I think…what do you think? Express your thoughts on Miss California USA’s interview response on the Talking Points Facebook Fanpage.


Talking Points provides guidance and coaching on how to handle tough questions, including current event topics, to little kid, teen, and adult pageant contestants. Contact me today to set up your one-on-one interview coaching appointment!




April 27, 2009 ~ Talking Points Launch


Welcome to Talking Points! This month I'm officially launching my new interview coaching business. I'm so excited about this venture and can't wait to pass along all of the helpful info I've learned throughout the years to others.


Although my pageant career has ended, I view this business as a great way to stay connected to something that I love SO much. I can't believe that my very first pageant was 17 years ago! Man, that just means I'm getting old! I'm even more amazed that it was one year ago that I stepped foot on the Miss Houston USA stage. My life has been forever changed by the wonderful people that I've had the opportunity to work with throughout the year.


Looking back on the past 17 years of competition, it's easy to see that I love one single part of competition above anything else...interview! I don't know what it is about the interview phase of competition...perhaps I like to talk alot? I do know one thing is for sure -- I can definitely do without the swimsuit phase of competition and interview all day, every day :)


This blog is intended as a vehicle for me to express my thoughts. Sometimes it will be pageant interview related and sometimes it won't. Check back often for my "pontificating" on random topics and hopefully you'll glean a few valuable nuggets of knowledge along the way.