Friday Feb 10, 2012

Hints on Productive Conversations

Jen Meuller

Sports Broadcaster

Scribe: Jenny Andrews Editor: Jim Kindsvater

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Jen Meuller, sports broadcaster, gave us hints on productive conversations.  Bob Holert introduced our Student of the Month, Perla Garibay, from Sammamish High School.  Several BBRC members received Paul Harris awards.  John Martinka leaves soon with Newport High School students to implement computer installations in Antigua.

Desiree Yuzawa

Desiree Yuzawa introduced our guest speaker, Jen Meuller, who is a sports broadcaster and at her website, and through presentations, she provides a practical game plan to productive conversations. Her techniques and insights help business professionals level the playing field at work and understand the value of sports conversations as winning business strategy. In her energetic, fun and valuable presentation to us she stressed the importance of small talk in the workplace and how it will often determine future opportunities, and how having better skills will increase likeability and visibility – connections are critical! Two topics that work well for most are 1) wine/beer and 2) SPORTS! Working hard and maintaining long hours are NOT ENOUGH!

Jen Meuller

Four topics that are disasters during small talk:

• money

• sex

• politics

• religion

Current events tend to revert to the above four topics and so people often revert to “the weather” – BORING! The weather, especially in the Seattle area, will not be fodder for a productive conversation.

The two subjects that tend to provide the basis for productive conversation: SPORTS & WINE/BEER. These topics appeal to a large group of people.

When you increase your appeal, you increase your influence and increase your success.

The purpose of small talk is to get the conversation started — it is a launching pad!

• So… how long does a good conversation last? This is gender and situation specific so simply think about building conversations 15 seconds at a time. Three sentences = about 15 seconds.

• Know your audience! Women tend to want to connect and feel close. Men tend to focus on and want information.

• Don’t talk AT people — it is an exchange!

Two steps to start a conversation.

1) You don’t have to know everything before you jump in! Read the sports headlines (only) unless you have extra time; that will give you enough for 15 seconds (score, sport, teams). Just get the ball rolling!

OR for a bottle of wine — the same thing. The information on the label will tell you everything you need to know to get going: winery, what kind, what it can be paired with, finish, etc.

2) PARTICIPATE — actively lead or listen. You have to at least open the door – it builds the confidence of others and builds rapport.

The goal of all of this “small talk” is to CONNECT — to keep relationship going. People who trust each other and have rapport work better together.

You aren’t going to learn about it all quickly, but go with what you know and you will build on it — don’t rush!

TOPIC EXIT STRATEGY — as you become a more proficient talker & as you engage — there is a fear factor – you’re not going to know what to say after. There is no right or wrong answer! Two words to get out of a tricky situation when you don’t know enough to carry on the topic:

NO, but … did you see….???

John Martinka thanks Jen

Don’t lie — be honest and encourage the conversation to continue about something with which you are more comfortable.

To gracefully exit a conversation/interaction: BE HONEST — sorry, this has been great but I have a really busy day — let’s get together later / send me an email.

If you would like to find out more about Jen or you have questions, comments, etc. you can email her at or check out her website at

John Martinka presented Jen Meuller with an award of 1K pounds of fresh produce to be given to Rotary First Harvest in her name.

Steve Roberts and John Andres

The meeting was called to order by BBRC President, John Martinka.

New BBRC member, John Andres, gave the invocation and led us in our pledge of allegiance.

Steve Roberts introduced guests and visiting Rotarians.

Joellen Monson
Joellen Monson

President, John Martinka, introduced Rotarian of the month, Joellen Monson and thanked her for her hard work with the Youth Services Committee.

Katherine De Stephano gave us a brief status report on our Bellevue 5/10K fundraising efforts and let us all know that the fundraising team will be updating us weekly,

Perla Garibay

Bob Holert introduced our Student of the Month, Perla Garibay from Sammamish High School. Perla attended the meeting with her school counselor, her parents and two younger sisters. She is an outstanding student who maintains a 4.02 GPA while participating in track, soccer, taking many advanced placement classes, and staying active in many community youth leadership programs and a community service program, Latino H.E.A.T. She will be the first person in her family to attend college.

Next Friday, February 17th, some of our Rotarians will be leaving on a trip to Antigua for the Computers for the World Project. Many BBRC members have contributed funds in order to make the trip possible.

Long time BBRC member, Dick Brown, presented awards to several members of our club who have contributed generously to this and other project efforts.  BBRC members who received awards and the awards they received are: Kai Pederson (3 sapphires — $5K), Howard Johnson (5 sapphires — $6K), Paul Chapman (3 rubies — $9K), Brian Evison (5 sapphires — $6K), Ann Norman (3 sapphires — $4K), Kim Shrader (2 rubies — $8K), Katherine De Stephano (1 sapphire — $2K), Bob Vallat (5 sapphires– $6K), Kevin Jewell (4 sapphires, $5K), Ruben Ladlad, 3 rubies, $9K) for a total of $69K.

Paul Harris Recipients
Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson updated us about Rotary First Harvest — we have a goal of 275 and at the end of January, we were at 174. He also reminded us that there was a February work party tomorrow, Saturday, February 11th.

Martin Clavijo

Wendi Fischer, our club’s Sergeant-at-Arms, helped us to get to know our recent BBRC addition, Martin Clavijo by playing 3 truths and a lie! Martin is a very interesting guy and we learned a lot!! No-one answered correctly, meaning that we raised a great deal of money for our exchange student to help toward the cost of her western safari trip.

Wendi also announced that another recent BBRC addition, John Andres has a new baby son, Alejandro – congratulations!! And that Tim Johnstone, recently accepted a position at Hopelink! Great news and a wonderful way to raise money for a worthy cause!

Reminders and Announcements

Tamara Dean reminded us about the dine-around dinner on the 18th. If you would like to attend, please contact Paul Chapman ASAP!

Board meeting next Tuesday morning, February 14th.



This one was missed.

About the Speaker