What if You Made this $168,000 Mistake?

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Topics in this edition:

  • The $168,000 mistake
  • This week’s podcast guest: Ekaterina Curry
  • “Elevator To the Top” Elevator pitch workshop invitation
  • Upcoming Analysis: Thursday’s presidential debate
  • Two more podcasts on relationships and how to command the room


We’ve all been there.

The feeling of “NOOOOO……!!!” upon sending an email, only to realize about five seconds too late that we forgot to erase something sensitive, hit “reply-all” instead of just “reply,” or something equally regrettable.

What’s even more painful is when we hit the send button and don’t realize we’ve made a big mistake… but someone else does!


Worse yet (yep, there’s more!), what if the mistake is a miscommunication that is subtle enough that nobody realizes it… and the impact is public, embarrassing, and BIG?

“Big” as in, it cost your employer $168,000?


Yeah, that kind of big.

And it’s not just that “kind” of mistake… that’s actually what happened to Ekaterina (Katie) Curry the Managing Director of Millennial Specialty Insurance, as she shares in this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast.



This week’s Podcast Guest: Ekaterina (Katie) Curry


Katie’s story is a powerful reminder of the importance of precision in our communication, and the nuances of intercultural communication, especially in professional settings.

In her early career (with a different employer, a bank), Katie was responsible for investigating a check for $168,000 from a bank in Armenia. She diligently conducted her investigation and responded to the inquiry using their secure system, indicating that the investigation was in progress.

However, the standard footer in her email—“I hope I’ve answered your question and I trust all is okay on your end”—was misinterpreted as an all-clear to cash the check!

The result? They paid out the full amount of $168,000, which – unsurprisingly – led to significant repercussions. Katie (and many others!) learned the hard way that every word we use, even in automated footers, can have a massive impact.


Beyond this cautionary tale, Katie’s interview is packed with additional valuable insights. Here are four other key learning opportunities from this week’s episode:


  • How to become a leader who is powerful enough to be heard, and charismatic enough to be followed
  • The 3 different kinds of email messages, and how to decide whether and when to respond to each
  • How to empower team members who are not as comfortable self-promoting
  • The importance of self-acceptance, and learning to succeed with what we have (whether or not you’re a native speaker of the language in which you conduct business)

Katie’s story and insights are a powerful reminder of the impact of effective communication. Whether it’s through careful word choice, strategic timing, or advocating for others, mastering these skills is essential for leadership and professional success.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


“Elevator To the Top” Elevator pitch workshop invitation


And speaking of leveraging the power of word choice, strategic timing, and (self)-advocacy, one context in which all three of those factors are essential is when answering the seemingly-simple question:


“So, what do you do?”


As Mark Twain purportedly wrote, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead.”


In other words, it’s surprisingly hard to be clear and concise, so we tend to ramble on, with longer but less potent contributions, in everything ranging from stories to emails and, yes, the eternally necessary-but-challenging “elevator pitch.”


That’s why I wanted to remind you that in just two weeks, on July 10th, I’ll be hosting a FREE workshop, the “Elevator to the Top,” in which you’ll get:


  • Insights into what makes an elevator pitch compelling and memorable
  • Biggest pitfalls to avoid
  • Live coaching demos to watch transformations in real time
  • Practice opportunities to sharpen your own personal messaging and delivery skills with instant feedback


It’ll be a tight hour, jam packed with content and practice… and a lot of FUN in the process!


Click here for more info and to register.


Oh – and there is a CAP on the number of people who can join the zoom, so reserve your spot today… but only if you want to participate and get RESULTS!


Upcoming Analysis: Thursday’s presidential debate


Speaking of watching and listening to case studies in real time, as many of you know, during presidential election cycles, I provide APOLITICAL analysis of the candidates’ performance during debates, conventions, town halls and similar events.


*Please note: I do NOT comment on their platforms, or how truthful or accurate I think their responses are.


I use these events as real-time case studies in effective (or ineffective) leadership communication, and note patterns, from word choice to vocal tonality and body language, with lessons we can all objectively apply in our own personal and professional lives… regardless of whether the lesson came from someone I appreciate, or someone I wouldn’t vote for for a million dollars. (And I never indicate where I think someone falls on that scale.)


The first official debate is scheduled for this Thursday evening, so I’ll be posting my analysis Friday morning.


***If you do NOT wish to receive my debate analyses, please reply to this email with “NO DEBATES PLEASE” and we’ll be sure to respect your wishes.

(If you get it anyway, please know it’s an accident. Kindly let us know of the error, as we’re working with new software and it may not be perfect yet!)

Ironically, one of the most frequent comments I receive is, “I don’t watch the debates anymore, but I love looking for your analysis the morning after!”

I hope you’ll feel the same!


Two more podcasts: relationships and how to command the room


And last but not least, for an added dose of encouragement and insight, join me on two other shows, each taking a different spin on communication:


First, the Making it Last podcast with Noreen Daly, which is all about relationships, where we addressed how to talk so people want to listen.


And second, on Redefining Wisdom with Daniel Cianci, Dan and I dive into what it really means to “command a room.” What does it mean? Is it important? How can you do it? And what’s the difference between commanding attention and respect vs. demanding it?


Tune in to find out!


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