Finding True North in 2016: A Personal Reflection

Finding True North in 2016: A Personal Reflection


Why do you think nearly 50% of people who write New Year’s Resolutions fail at them within the first six months?

Maybe because we all have the attention span of an Instagram feed.

It takes real kick-your-butt effort to change ourselves into a better slice of awesome.

After living the last year in complete chaos – most of which I brought on myself and infected those around me with – I figured I could use a little advice on how to get my act together in 2016.

I wasn’t really looking for a miracle cure when I wandered onto Google looking for answers on how to write my resolutions. But what I found was every self-help blogger, psychologist, psychoanalyst and wannabe spiritual healer and their change-your-life tips and trends.

Did you know there’s a checklist for darn near everything you ever wanted to fix about yourself? Within seven easy steps you can solve practically every dilemma you’ve ever had and lose the last 15-99 pounds with triumphant success.

So I killed a small forest and ran dry at least two highlighters but I came up with a few good directions on where to start. Then, I crumpled all the papers. Threw them away. Turned on some Guns N’ Roses and started getting to the heart of the matter.

That’s right. The heart of the matter.

I got real honest with myself on what I wanted out of life. It takes losing a few good people you want back, missing a few good opportunities you definitely needed and falling short of the finish line one too many times to finally gain a little thing called perspective.
In honor of all those checklists – here’s mine.

Alyssa’s 2016 New Year’s Perspective

1. Live for the living. I’ve mourned the loss of some of the greatest people I will ever know. And now they’re gone, I would give practically anything to have even 15 more minutes with them. In 2016, I am going to make the time to actually show people how much they matter. In person. Before it’s too late. And I’m going to stop making excuses about how busy I am.
2. Be brief. Be brilliant. Be gone. In 2016, I am going to improve my explanations. Reduce negotiations. Decrease the amount of time defending my side of the story. Choose excellence over perfection. And spend more time exploring new adventures.
3. Cut the frayed strings. I have a great tendency to hang on too long. In 2016, I’m going to be unflinchingly honest about the ships that have sailed and the relationships that have outgrown their place in my life. Sometimes you have to be strong enough to change how your chapter is written. And sometimes you even have to write out certain characters.

And finally…

4. Have a fiber rich life. My Grandpa Jim told me if he would’ve known he was going to live this long, he would’ve taken better care of himself along the way. The very fiber of my life is to be the best version of myself for those that depend on me so much. Having a strong mental, spiritual and physical health is the thread holding it all together. My fiber comes in many forms and I’m going to take a loading dose in the coming year.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to think about where your compass is pointing in 2016. For me, it was one of the toughest conversations I’ve had with myself in a long time.

Wherever your path goes in the New Year – may you find yourself there,

Alyssa Connell

the Connell Companies

Fake It Til You Make It…through the day

Fake It Til You Make It…through the day



One of the most dangerous phrases I’ve ever heard is, “I wish you could just read my mind!” What? You’re kidding me, right? I can’t imagine giving someone that kind of access inside my thoughts.

So often in our personal and professional lives – we are placed in situations where we must keep what we’re thinking to ourselves. For those that wear their emotions on their sleeve, this can be a challenging game of theatrics.

I consulted members of our team and my family – all of which are experts at pretending to care what I’m saying – and asked them for some advice on how to “fake it until you make it.”

Top six ways to feign interest when you’d rather be anywhere else

  1. Chuckle. Or give it your best “LOL.” Nothing says, “I couldn’t agree more” than faking a good ol’ giggle in the middle of a conversation you’re not paying any attention to. Remember, when in doubt, cackle it out.
  2. Agree with everything. Nod at every pause. The best bobble heads send out the strongest signals of encouragement.
  3. Take copious notes. Write your grocery list. Develop your packing list for the vacation that’s six months away. If all else fails, redo your Last Will and Testament. If the meeting is truly that boring, you may need it.
  4. Ask general or broad questions. It shows how interested you are when you ask questions to keep people talking.
  5. Analyze and be judgmental. Nothing, and we mean nothing, passes the time like creating a mental checklist of everything that’s wrong with someone. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes and how much better you feel about yourself when it’s over.
  6. Rewrite their life story. In your head, change all the facts about someone. It is wildly entertaining to take control over someone’s good luck and misfortunes.

Whenever you can work in a golf clap at the end – do that, too. What are your favorite ways to show how much you don’t care?

See you at the point of influence,


You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

You’re only as strong as your weakest link

There is something to be said for that quote.

When selecting an employee – employers are now searching for someone that will not only step up to the plate, but will make contact and win. Having the right qualifications is now the standard. Employers are searching for the right fit – the next model employee.

Employers need to recognize the qualities of good employees and reward them for being an asset to the organization. It can also be a challenge to retain those good employees.

You’ll want to hire those with the best attributes and also those who have the potential to become more capable in the future. Often, we hear of companies hiring for personality and then training to fit the skills of the position.

You're Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link | Connell Communications

Communication skills
It’s important to know that your employees are willing and able to communicate important information, ideas and challenges clearly and effectively. Without this quality, many problems can develop within the company.

Motivated self-starter
This type of employee is not afraid of taking responsibility and will be prepared to go beyond the call of duty to meet goals or solve any problem.

We believe an employee needs passion – a genuine excitement to be part of an organization. It can be easy to distinguish the difference between someone who works for a paycheck, and one that simply loves what they do. People with this passion will be enthusiastic about the position and what they will bring to the table.

An employee that can adjust themselves to a new environment and is willing to quickly learn new tasks and perform their best with change are likely to be the best performers in any organization.

Team player
All companies require an effective team performance. Everyone appreciates a helping hand every now and then. One that establishes friendly relations with other coworkers and keeps the office running smoothly is always an asset to the company. A good employee will not only step in and help others, but give credit and share in coworkers’ accolades with the team.

The value of work ethic
This is a quality that can sum up everything else mentioned in the making of a model employee.

Individuals who possess a strong work ethic embody certain principles that guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and without the prodding that some others require to stay on track.

Good work ethics often inspire others to act in similar ways.

With positive ethical and professional values, a company is reflected well and valued above many others competing for that base market.

This will ensure you are always headed true north.

See you at The Point of Influence,
Connell Communications

When “It Is What It Is…” Just Isn’t.

When “It Is What It Is…” Just Isn’t.

When "It Is What It Is..." Just Isn't.

We’ve all heard a certain handful of common phrases in our professional lives – and if you’re anything like me, your skin starts to crawl because of it.  Before you fire off your next quick text or email – here are a few phrases to avoid.

In business today, many people are constantly “reaching out” to “touch base” intending to “circle back” in a mundane attempt to generate a positive response to their queries.

Unfortunately, their actions often generate a neutral to negative feedback leaving their credibility shaken and their correspondent annoyed.

The use of passive voice, arcane sayings (that actually say nothing), and imprecise questions can often result in an unworkable situation.

Be pleasant but direct in dealings.
People appreciate straight talk – something that is so often lacking. Getting to the point of why you are contacting the person should be the next virtue. Most overworked and over-emailed businesspeople are annoyed with the nonsensical clutter and just want to know what you want.

Avoid arcane sayings and phrases.
In the past few years, the business world has been replete with a virtual cornucopia of these empty words. We’ve all heard them, and also used them from time to time. They demonstrate a level of insecurity and the need to use filler words when direct action is warranted.

For example, many industry leaders will terminate a conversation if the caller offers that rote phrase, “I was just reaching out to you to schedule an upcoming meeting…to touch base about your question to purchase products. Hope we can circle back to our prior position soon.”

This inane, bizarre conversation-ender will guarantee your communication will not be effective and will lower your stature in the other person’s eyes.

Instead, cut to the chase.
“Hello Bob, I was returning your call you placed to me at 10 a.m. yesterday. I was intrigued by your request to purchase 200 units for an initial investment of $50,000. I look forward to discussing it over lunch with you tomorrow at 12 p.m. at Tom’s Steakhouse.” This statement conveys actual information, desire, directive and expectation.

Use active voice, in conversation and writing.
Hemingway said it best in his many works. Avoid empty “be” verbs and use active verbs. Don’t use 20 words when six will do. Speak pleasantly and polite, but also directly. An economy of words saves time and energy, and offers brevity to convey meaning and desire.

Your main goal in communication should always be to leave a positive, memorable effect on the reader.

Remember, sometimes “it is what it is…” simply isn’t.

What are your favorite annoying phrases?

Circle back to me on that,


Connell Communications Announces New Partnership

Connell Communications Announces New Partnership

Get to the Point of Style



Alyssa Connell, CEO
Connell Communications



Connell Communications and SPLURGE Boutique launch The Point of Style

DES MOINES, IOWA (October 28, 2014) – Connell Communications has partnered with high-style women’s clothing boutique, SPLURGE Boutique, on a concept unique to the nation. The preeminent marketing and PR firm has joined with the clothing boutique to help women in America take back control of their image.

The partnership stemmed from the same core belief – that all women are phenomenal. As leaders in communications and corporate fashion, the two companies have come together to help redefine beauty, confidence and self-worth in today’s modern woman.

“It has become increasingly clear that women across the nation need help understanding the power of a positive professional image and the definition of true confidence of character,” said Alyssa Connell, CEO of Connell Communications.

This partnership called, The Point of Style, showcases the concept that every woman can be beautiful and confident in their own skin, no matter what size is on her label. “I have styled hundreds of women and one thing we see time and again – women automatically tear themselves down when standing in front of a mirror,” said Lisa Coots-Schooley, Owner of SPLURGE Boutique. “We’re going to fix that by redefining beauty, one woman at a time. That’s The Point of Style.”

The companies will host Phenomenal Women workshops for businesses to help female employees understand the importance and value of professional image, appropriate work attire and dressing for the correct body type.

In addition, The Point of Style will feature informative blog posts, photo sessions and webinars with practical and purposeful information for the everyday executive. “We know SPLURGE Boutique offers something unique to our clients, guiding the way they feel about themselves with more confidence,” said Coots-Schooley. “Together with the Connell Communications team and their vast marketing resources, we have created something that hasn’t been done. And, we’re very proud to launch it.”

“So often, we put ourselves on the backburner. We give to our bosses, our careers, our kids, our spouses, our communities and our homes,” said Connell. “And, at the end of the day – what little time is left is given to tasks and chores.”

“Convenience is our outfit of choice and we view our Pinterest pages of beautiful, organized beauty with longing and loathing for a life that seems so far out of our reach,” said Coots-Schooley. “But, with a little guidance and an injection of confidence, women can take back that control and feel phenomenal again.”

For more information about scheduling a Phenomenal Women Workshop or to learn more about this joint partnership, please visit


About Lisa Coots-Schooley and SPLURGE Boutique

Lisa Coots-Schooley knows two things: women and business. Her life’s mission is to change the way the world and women think of beauty. Resonating from the inside out, Lisa wants every woman in America to have a feeling of self-worth and confidence. Lisa’s love of people and passion for creativity came full circle in 1994 when she purchased a highly-reputable photography studio in Eastern Iowa.

She ran her full-service studio until 2010, when she relocated her business to Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa. At that time, she expanded her service offerings and added a high-end clothing boutique. This allowed her to combine her skills in photography with styling woman of all ages and sizes.

SPLURGE has been the voice, and go to boutique in fashion, for one of Cedar Rapids’ largest published magazines. And in 2013, SPLURGE Boutique was voted Cedar Rapids’ number one boutique in the Creative Corridor.


About Alyssa Connell and Connell Communications

Alyssa Connell, CEO of Connell Communications, has traveled the nation observing women in business for more than a decade. It has become increasingly clear to her that women need help understanding the power of perception and the importance of bringing out the beauty resonating within.

A lifestyle change in 2009 led Alyssa to win one of the nation’s first successful social media fitness challenges for working mothers. Through that competition and makeover, she now fully understands full-circle the struggles of weight loss and body image and the power this plays in embracing your true identity.

Alyssa aims to take her resources in marketing, PR and social media and combine it with her thirst to help professional women redefine their sense of beauty and self-worth. Through all forms of communication, she believes women will start to change their behavior. Through diligence and effort, the culture of the corporate woman will be restored to one of pride and high-class.

Connell Communications is among the nation’s preeminent public relations, social media and marketing consulting firms. The company offers six complete service lines, including turnkey corporate event management specialists.


To download a printable version of this release – click here.

2014 Healthcare Capital Project Workshop

2014 Healthcare Capital Project Workshop

Healthcare Capital Project Workshop | Connell Communications



Alyssa Connell, CEO
Connell Communications



Industry Expert Alyssa Connell Leads Workshop on Marketing Strategies for Executive Leaders in Healthcare

Des Moines, Iowa (October 16, 2014) – Ahnemann Associates will host its annual Healthcare Capital Project Workshops in both Iowa and Minnesota in the coming weeks. This yearly event brings together faculty across all industries to educate non-profit healthcare organizations on the best practices necessary to put a capital project together.

This all-day conference gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to learn key components of capital projects from faculty experts. Whether these organizations may be in the early process of planning a capital campaign for a new facility or just simply exploring the financial options available to their healthcare practice, these workshops able each company to individually learn new ideas not being taught anywhere else and bring them back to be used in their workplace.

“Each workshop consists of keynote speakers addressing a portion of best practice capital projects,” said Darryl Ahnemann, Principal of Ahnemann Associates. “These proven ideas from noted senior-level advisors are used everyday in the corporate world and have found a place in the building blocks of fundraising.”

Alyssa Connell, CEO of Connell Communications, will lead one of the eight workshops covering the key aspects of marketing and communications strategies for the healthcare organization. “Drive the Business, Steer the Brand” will teach attendees the steps necessary to develop a results-oriented communications strategy, brand development and an effective social media campaign.

Registration is $75 and includes: participation in all fundraising workshops, continental breakfast, lunch and all materials, including an exclusive Best Practices Manual. Registration is open online at

Attendees may register for either of the following locations:


Tuesday, October 28, 2014    

Country Inn & Suites Hotel

1900 Premier Dr.

Mankato, MN 56001


{Intersection of Hwys 14 & 22}


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Country Inn & Suites Hotel

1350 NW 118th St.

Clive, IA 50325


{Intersection of Interstates 80/35 and University Ave.}


About Ahnemann Associates

Ahnemann Associates staff has resource development experience dating back to 1968, working in higher education, health care, human services, and with care centers, churches, and economic development agencies. Ahnemann Associates works with organizations both private and public to provide expertise in designing fundraising and resource development programs, helping to stabilize finances by establishing a solid annual giving program and simultaneously working to build a planned giving program. For more information, please visit


To download a printable version of this release – click here.