By Sue Botos
What is the “real deal”?
Often, it’s a term used to describe someone who is honest about who they are.
Executive coach and communications expert Connie Dieken recalled that she heard the expression often as she worked with 3,500 clients throughout the world, researching the topic of executive presence.
“I thought the study was about influence, but two words kept popping up from Shanghai to Australia – ‘real deal,’” Dieken said in a phone interview. Her discoveries led to her program, “The Real Deal: The Proven Path to Develop Your Influence and Executive Presence,” which she will present at the May 23 Rocky River Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Dieken recalled the combination of skill and luck that launched her broadcasting career. “I’m a backwoods girl from a tiny (population 5,000) town called Winchester, Ind. When it was time to go to college (Indiana University), I looked for a public speaking major, and there was no major; but there was one that said ‘public relations,’ and I thought it was the same thing.”
Her studies led to a job writing TV commercials for a local station and her first on-air break. “One day, the host of the TV show was sick. It was summertime, and I was there, working my way through college, and they pointed at me and said, ‘Have Connie host the show,’ and I was like, ‘What?’” Dieken recalled with a laugh.
Encouraged to consider broadcasting as a career, Dieken entered the International Radio and Television Society’s “Top 10 Most Promising Newcomers” contest. “Lo and behold, little old me somehow wins that,” she remembered.
As a result, Dieken earned a fellowship at ABC’s “World News Tonight” in New York City, eventually landing in Cleveland as news anchor for WKYC Channel 3. She worked the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts for 10 years, then quit to spend more time with her young children. “The news director at the time said, ‘Are you out of your mind? You’ll never get another shot.’ I said, ‘I’ll never get another shot at shaping someone’s life,’” Dieken recalled.
Little did she know she would end up influencing many lives.
After a stint with WEWS Channel 5’s “Morning Exchange,” Dieken decided to do some freelance TV work, but one producer she contacted had a different idea. “He had a client that happened to be one of the world’s largest companies, (and) needed help getting their CEO on TV. He called me and said, ‘Would you mind talking to this guy?’” Dieken shared some ideas with the CEO, who eventually landed spots on the “Today Show” and other national media.
“A business was born. I thought I was a media consultant,” Dieken recalled. She then assisted another client with a business presentation, adding “executive coach” to her impressive resume. “(Then) my clients turned me into an author,” said Dieken, who put her advice in writing with her bestseller, “Talk Less, Say More: 3 Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen.” Her next book, “Becoming the Real Deal,” is due out this summer.
“This (book) is about what I’ve learned from the executives I’ve coached, and the wisdom I’ve learned from these clients,” Dieken said. Through her work with these people, she found that the “real deal” has three layers: “inner, outer and verbal presence.”
“We live in a very fake world. Is anything real? Does it matter? I believe authenticity is the courage to show up as yourself; knowing how to be,” Dieken said, noting that social media and other online sources have created a paradox. “We live in a world that demands perfection, yet craves authenticity. You can’t be perfect and be authentic,” she said, adding that throughout her career, she fought the perceived need to be perfect.
Dieken added that everyone is the “real deal,” but that they may need to be centered. Her “seesaw” theory will be a topic discussed during the Chamber of Commerce presentation. Ideally, she said, a person should be centered, like a straight seesaw. If someone is anxious, they are “up in the air”; if too narcissistic, they weigh everything down.
“It’s interesting, whether you’re anxious or narcissistic, to other people it shows up the same,” Dieken stated. “People just know you’re centered on yourself, not on them. Influence in the ‘real deal’ begins within.”