In a nutshell, here is what I have learned.  I have Cousin Itt Syndrome.

Yes, it’s true. Despite the lack of resemblance (thank goodness!) I talk as fast, if not faster, than Cousin Itt. Unfamiliar with Cousin Itt? He was a regular visitor on the Addams Family show back when we had black and white television. Click here for a 15 second video demonstration – Cousin Itt is the one with the pretty hair.

I’ve always been a fast thinker, and I knew that. I did not know that I was such a fast talker. When I listened to the replay of my Opportunity Detroit interview with Radio Hall of Famer, Paul W. Smith, and Quicken Loans Vice President, Stephen Luigi Piazza, I thought they had intentionally sped up the recording! Then, when I heard Paul W speak, he sounded normal. Slow. Clear. Understandable. He did not sound like Cousin Itt. The difference between his pace and mine was enormous.

After I listened to the podcast, I pondered the question: Why did I talk so fast?

In retrospect, I understand that I was wound up. Paul and Stephen are amazing leaders in the community, so I wanted to honor their talent by bringing my own best game. My finest content, my most polished responses, my most profound insights. Plus, it was WJR! WJR has at least a gazillion listeners in seven states. Then, there was this added pressure: I’d been listening to Paul’s show for years. I was excited to spend time with his producer, the great Ann Thomas, and the behind-the-scenes guru, Brian, who is a very funny man. I was having a blast and I hadn’t even entered the studio yet. All these factors increased my adrenaline.

Finally, it was my time. I entered the studio, gave Paul W a big hug, offered a solid handshake to Stephen Luigi Piazza, and placed myself behind the open microphone. In an instant, my Cousin Itt Syndrome materialized. The rest, as they say, is broadcast history.

Paul W, Maureen, and Stephen Luigi Piazza. Photo credit: Don Tanner
Paul W, Maureen, and Stephen Luigi Piazza. Photo credit: Don Tanner
Maureen & Paul W. Smith. Photo credit: Don Tanner
Maureen & Paul W. Smith. Photo credit: Don Tanner

The good news is that we had an excellent interview. Paul W asked super questions. Stephen Luigi Piazza was familiar with the StrengthsFinder, so that enabled him to contribute insightful color commentary. The ten minutes flew by (of course they did, I was speaking faster than a snake can spit).

If you would like to listen to my Opportunity Detroit interview, click here and scroll down the list until you see my name.

After hearing myself talk on WJR, I made a declaration. My next interview would be different. I would slow down. I would breathe. I would be thoughtful, even Ghandi-like.

Yesterday I was interviewed by my friend, Matt Friedman (of TannerFriedman). He has a radio show focused on business communications. TannerFriedman has done a GREAT JOB for me.  I wanted to do a fabulous job for Matt.

I sat down next to him and studied his studio-on-the-go system (an iphone, a free app, a tiny microphone, and a set of ear pods). I was supported by Lexi Cerilli, a TannerFriedman colleague who has been a faithful guide on my media journey. I looked at her and said, “I’m going to talk slow, right?”

Lexi agreed. Matt agreed. I agreed. Perfect.

Maureen & Matt Friedman. Photo credit: Lexi Cerilli
Maureen & Matt Friedman. Photo credit: Lexi Cerilli

Matt leaned toward me, properly positioned the microphone, and asked the first question. It was a great question! My eyes widened.

What happened next?

We had six minutes of pure joy, talking about building winning teams, leveraging strengths, and leaving no teammate or talent behind! Matt gets it, both as the owner of a company and as a sports fan. He knows that building great teams is the only way to achieve long-term success, in the office or on the field. His questions reflected his deep expertise in the topic. It was easy, spontaneous, and engaging. I was in heaven.

When we were finished, I turned to Lexi, seeking approval. She had a wide grin on her face. Suddenly, it hit me. I never once thought about the speed of my responses. All my good intentions had evaporated like a wretched drop of water in Death Valley. My heart sunk. Cousin Itt Syndrome strikes again!

“I talked too fast, didn’t I?”

Lexi is very kind, so she didn’t say, “Maureen, you are the gold medalist in the Speed Talking Olympics!” Matt assured me that it was fine. But deep down, I knew the truth.

Let’s look on the bright side. The good news is that I have no fear in interviews. The bad news is that I talk too fast. That’s easier to fix than fear.

I’m going to beat my Cousin Itt Syndrome by recording myself in a variety of situations. I suspect that I talk too fast ALL THE TIME. I am going to listen to myself talk more often. Then I can engage my Learner, Strategic, Achiever, and Maximizer strengths to  improve. Who wouldn’t benefit from examining not just pace, but word choice and vocabulary precision, with an eye on being generous and encouraging? With awareness and mindfulness, I will do better. (If you have any other suggestions, please do share them in the comments section and send me the bill!)

In the meantime, I want to pause and celebrate my wonderful partnership with TannerFriedman. Just as we did with the Cranbrook Hockey Team in Destination Unstoppable, I created a success statement. I included metrics like book sales, interviews, and appearances (see links below). That’s the formal measurement of success, and it is going great. But all effective success statements include human measurements – content around HOW we work as a team. We are winning there, too. In fact, I really adore our collaboration.

Here are a few more examples of our success. After an article about Destination Unstoppable was published in the Sunday Detroit Free Press, I was contacted by potential clients from all over the United States. Click here to read it.

Ditto for my interview on WXYZ-TV with Cranbrook hockey player, now at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Mr. Blake Rogow! Click here to watch it.

There are more interviews on the horizon, and I can’t thank Lexi Cerilli, Don Tanner, and Matt Friedman, enough. It seems that I will have plenty of opportunities to squash my Cousin Itt Syndrome once and for all!

Here’s a link to the TannerFriedman FB page. I recommend them without reservation.

Onward! (Say that with me really fast!)


Ideation | Strategic | Learner | Achiever | Individualization | Maximizer


  1. Maureen, your enthusiasm comes across, and yes, you do always speak quickly. Much better to be remembered as the ball of energy that speaks a little fast than something less positive. I am amazed that others in the room managed to maintain their measured pace and weren’t carried away by your enthusiasm. Great interview. Great book.

      • Maureen Monte

      • 8 years ago

      Hazel, I love that you shared your two cents. After all, you listened to me on many conference calls, webinars, et al at The Company! Your comments mean the world to me regarding the book because you were there for much of the action. I will never forget how helpful you were to me when we had to shut down our strengths movement. I turned to YOU because of your strengths, because of your knowledge (“How do I shut down a community, Hazel?”) and your calm demeanor in the face of the hurricane. For those of you who’ve read the book, I don’t talk a whole lot about that part of the story, but Hazel was the Rock of Gibraltar for us when we had to do what we had to do. Her measured and structured response was just what we needed. I miss working with you, Hazel!

  2. Love #1 – the AMAZING and well-deserved journey you are on bringing your brilliance to the world and #2 – your authenticity and openness that we might look curiously at ourselves and explore how we can continue to be at our best. I hope you will record yourself in ALL SORTS of contexts, my friend. I remember many, many conversations where you calm and presence was the predominating energy. My guess is you are just so pumped up about the awesome story you have to share – and rightly so. I vote for COMPASSION and self-acceptance. :)

      • Maureen Monte

      • 8 years ago

      Ah! Just what the doctor ordered! Thank you, Vicki, for reminding us that we are complex creatures and offer a variety of behaviors in a variety of situations! :-) I am grateful for your encouragement and helping me pause to celebrate (you taught me that!) those around me, and honoring the journey! You’re the best! I look forward to a proper catch up! Maureen