Donna Smaldone
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Friday / August 05 / 2011

Why the highlight of your week should revolve around hugs-n-handshakes

Highlight of my week: meeting Tommy Spaulding, world renowned speaker, NY Times bestselling author, whole-life advisor (and best of all, new friend) –ACCE 2011 Conference, Los Angeles

I’m in L.A., baybee! …at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Annual Conference. And let me tell you, this East Coast girl is filled to the brim with new ideas, fresh motivation for both my Chamber work and my writing — and best of all, new friends.

Conferences like this are great for a lot of reasons but my FAVE is the hugs-n-handshakes. I just met one such new friend as we were perusing the information table during a lull outside the Platinum Ballroom. Her name is Carmen Parks and she is the happily married Mom of twin 12-year-old girls – oh, and the small business manager at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Carmen and I hit it off so quickly and naturally, a handshake wouldn’t do. We embraced — and then quickly connected on LinkedIn, of course.

Me at ACCE 2011 in LA

Me at ACCE 2011 in LA

The reason hugs-n-handshakes top my list is because there’s nothing I love more than genuine personal connectivity or “relationship economics” as Tommy Spaulding calls it in Chapter 3 of his book, “It’s Not Just Who You Know“.

A perfect transition into sharing the absolute highlight of my week: meeting and engaging with Tommy Spaulding. It’s not just because New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets Owner Woody Johnson loves Tommy and has this to say about him, “Tommy masterfully illustrates case by case, person by person, that we’re all in this together.” (Although admittedly, it doesn’t hurt the case either!)

It’s because Tommy gets it. He gets The You Evolution™ and inspired me to keep pursuing and embracing my passion for it.

Tommy transparently shared himself and his life with me (and about a thousand other Chamber execs) yesterday morning, imparting the importance of humor and humility, the impact of empathy, and the influence of authenticity. I’m laughing as I realize how many “i” words I just used!

At his half-hour-turned-two-hour book signing later in the day, I had the distinct pleasure to meet Tommy. Again, a handshake simply wouldn’t do so I led with, “May I hug you?” He indulged me not only by fully embracing me, but everything I am and represent.

Personal autograph from Tommy: "...can't wait to read The You Evolution™!"

Personal autograph from Tommy: "...can't wait to read The You Evolution™!"

We shared a few pleasantries and some commonalities about upstate New York, and then he tenderly and intuitively engaged my core by inquiring about the scar on my chin. When I nutshell-shared I was in a tragic car accident which claimed the lives of two best friends at age 16, I could feel his empathy.

Tommy is the real deal. A shining example of humanity as its best. He doesn’t portend to have life all figured out. He simply and effortlessly engages with people and encourages others to do likewise. My takeaway hope is this will not be my last encounter with Tommy – and my gut tells me it won’t be.

If you do anything for yourself today (and if you’re paying any attention, you will), pick up a copy of Tommy’s book. Read it. Embrace it. And join me in the quest to transform your life by building lasting, genuine relationships.

2 responses to “Why the highlight of your week should revolve around hugs-n-handshakes”

  1. Michelle says:

    I agree — Tommy Spaulding was very inspirational. It was great meeting you at ACCE and I look forward to your blog!

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