Welcome, Laura! Thanks for agreeing to be my first victim. This is my inaugural blog interview. I’m thrilled to chat with you! With regard to my questions, we’ll do this like a meal: appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
(Pssst … Laura’s answers are italicized.)
Andrew: So… who are you?
Laura: Well, hello there! My name is Laura Camacho and I help people make that next step through better communication. In my work, “better” usually means “more courageous”.
More courageous. I like that. In 2-3 sentences, tell us what makes you tick?
I keep insanely busy running my business, Mixonian Institute, keeping track of all four grown kids and step-kid, and now blowing raspberries with my two baby granddaughters. We also have a dog, but I’m not a dog person, I’m dog-person adjacent. I live for the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Where’s your happy place?
My office. It’s beautiful, full of books, art, and a place to nap, I mean work.
Last July, I joined our Latin choir at church. How hard could singing in Latin be? A capella? Turns out it’s quite challenging when you’re not musically trained or gifted. Nevertheless, I persist.
Century Gothic. I use it for all my handouts and proposals.
What’s the movie you quote most often?
In the moment, I can never remember any pithy quotes. But if I could, I would quote the communication coach in The King’s Speech.
Haha. I know the quote. It shall not be uttered here! Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I recurringly fantasize about eating coffee ice cream and then taking a nap.
Name a book you love to recommend?
I’m a huge fan of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and The Solzhenitsyn Reader is a great overview of his work and why it was so impactful in the world. It is by Edward E. Ericson, Jr., and Daniel J. Mahoney. I also love The Last Lion by William Manchester, a deep biography of Winston Churchill. I have a thing for cultural iconoclasts who stubbornly seek the good, the true, and the beautiful. Right now, I’m reading The Red Horse by Eugenio Corti who tells the fascinating story of various Italian soldiers fighting in Russia and Africa during WW2.
Lastly, tell us something interesting and unique about yourself?
What most people find interesting about me is the work I do with my super-smart clients and my international life experiences. I brought a lot of these “culture shocks” I experienced living in Venezuela, Spain, and Germany, to my new book: The Practical Guide to Effective Communication.
Andrew: We have something in common: respect and love for great communication. Our area of expertise is a little different, though.
My superpower is creating effective visual communications (AKA graphic design and illustration). What’s your superpower?
Laura: Great question! My superpower is the supersonic speed with which I can accurately diagnose a communication problem and offer its solution. That’s what you get from over 5,000 coaching conversations with ultra-high performers. Most of the time what people think is their problem, for example, “being too blunt”, is not actually what is holding them back.
What do you love about your job?
I love being helpful and delivering insight that changes people’s lives.
When did you realize you were so good at communication that you could help others?
It’s funny I never thought about myself being “good at communicating” instead what I realized was that I learned so many lessons from being a very bad and ineffective communicator. The lessons and tools that came as a result of making so many mistakes is what I wanted to share with others. The impetus for this journey was definitely getting my doctorate in communications. I began to see that what I had attributed to other people’s faults was actually my own failure to communicate. Ouch.
You just released a book about being a great communicator: The Practical Guide to Effective Communication: Get Recognized for the Value You Already Contribute. It’s informative and entertaining. (Reader, go buy it!)
I was honored to be able to create the cover design and, Laura, you were a pleasure to work with. Tell us why you wrote the book?
THANK YOU! I wrote this book to codify the knowledge I acquired over so many years of living abroad and then teaching communication skills. (Also because my mom nagged me to do it.) I bring an approach that is completely fresh to most people. I think that’s because I am a card-carrying introvert, which allows me to bring a unique perspective to art of communication.
Why is effective communication so important?
Communication is important because the goal is not to transfer information; we can literally Google almost anything. Effective communication is about shaping the hearts and minds of our audience. You want them to be better off than they were before you communicated with the audience. If you’re not leaving people better off, then zip the lip.
Communication is a challenge for most of us – myself included. It’s been a struggle personally and professionally for me over the years. In fact, I’ve used your communication coaching services and been very pleased. Thank you! But why is communication so difficult?
Communication is difficult for many reasons. One is a lot of people talk too much and say too little. Others use language to bully and/or manipulate others. And then there are people who don’t want to misuse language, they fear hurting people’s feelings, so they don’t speak up at all or sufficiently.
You have such a gift for delivering your message in a delightful, engaging, and fun way. What’s your secret?
#1 Don’t be boring!
#2 Leave your audience better off than they were before
You’re also an excellent marketer. You have an amazing newsletter that hits my inbox with atomic-clock regularity on Monday mornings. I always open it. How do you keep your content so fresh and light?
My newsletter, The Culture Connection (sign-up!), is the primary channel I use to keep in touch with my very attractive clients and supporters. I know they are oversaturated with all kinds of messages and I strive to bring them a fresh perspective on things, and maybe a smile to boot. I have a stellar writer who helps me with that.
Yes everyone should sign up for that ASAP. You have a great podcast, too. Tell us a little bit about it.
And I’m assuming you somehow find the time to do your actual job. How do you make it all happen?
The Speak Up podcast blew up during Covid. It’s now #5 in the world for communication podcasts. I was actually planning to shut it down in early 2020, and today I have people reaching out to me every day pitching their clients to be on the show.
Back in the day when I was teaching communication classes at East Carolina University, taking graduate communication classes, and herding three young offspring, I learned to hyper-focus. That helps a lot. I’m very purpose-driven in all I do and maybe one day I’ll figure out how to get help to take on more of the tasks. People like you, making me look good through compelling graphic art, my podcast producer in India, my writer, and my cleaning lady all help me! Coffee also contributes.
How do you stay inspired?
Such a great question. When I need inspiration, my go-to is to look for a book. NOT a book on communication skills, but something that feeds my imagination. A couple of weeks ago this led me to buy The Allure of Charleston: Houses, Rooms, and Gardens by Charlestonian Susan Sully. It’s a lovely read.
On rare occasions, a class of some sort will tempt me. The last one I attended was on difficult conversations taught by Hilary Gallo in London. That inspiration kept me going for quite a while. I get excited by people with enough courage to NOT repeat the same old tired message in the same way. You have to look for new ways to express yourself!
If you could take a year-long sabbatical to work on a passion project, what would you produce? (funds are unlimited)
I am always working on my passion project. I’m successfully building both an iconoclastic international business and a strong, healthy family.
Where can we find out more about you?
Thank you, Laura.