If a quick glance at your checkbook and calendar doesn't reflect what’s important to you, you’re in the “espresso lane,” according to Laurie Guest, a professional speaker who delivered the keynote at Thursday’s Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Annual Meeting Breakfast.

Guest compares adult life to a three-lane highway. She describes the time after college, working a dream job and years of studying have paid off as the far-right lane, or the scenic route.

Shortly thereafter, when getting married and having children, you’re cruising the middle lane. Then, in no time, you may be in the far-left lane, or what Guest calls the espresso lane of life.

“This is when your days are going by so fast, you don’t know what happened,” she said.

Nearly 100 people gathered in the Dakota Ballroom of Bismarck’s Ramkota Hotel to learn the six behaviors Guest says can change life and help travelers better navigate the espresso lane.

“Laurie is a certified speaking professional, a designation held by less than 12 percent of speakers worldwide,” said Trish Helgeson, chair of the Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors. “Her ability to blend real-life examples with proven action steps is the reason over three-quarters of her clients ask her for an encore appearance. Laurie is known for her quick wit, slightly sarcastic sense of humor.”

Pick me philosophy

Guest, who previously worked in health care, says she believes “if you get your hand in the air, good things follow.”

She shared the story of a former coworker, “Janice,” who was always the first to say, “Pick me, I’ll figure it out.” When the company they worked for “downsized” in the '90s, Janice was one of the first picked to stay, Guest said.

“Not because she’s the best, the fastest, the smartest necessarily, but because she’s the one that said, ‘Pick me, I’ll figure it out,’” she said. “It’s really valuable to be that person.”

Forsake the mistake

Forsake the mistake is the idea that faults can be made to seem easy to correct, Guest said.

In the workplace, good people are hired and put in their positions. If they don’t learn the job quickly enough, or don’t fit an invisible mold, Guest says managers may tend to “eat our young.”

“We pick and we pick and we pick until either they don’t want to be there, or we don’t want them to be there, and then we lose them,” she said. “I think we need to take a look at how we can make faults seem easy to correct. Not to allow a habitual mistake maker, but to turn things around.”

Double shot of I.B.H.T.

Growing up, Guest said her dad, on more than one occasion, asked her to run upstairs and get his slippers after a day of farming, hitting the shower and settling into his recliner for the night.

One day she got brave and asked him, “Why not do it yourself while upstairs showering?”

“That’s when my dad taught me the best four words I’ve ever learned in my life. He said, ‘Laurie, I’m your dad and when I ask you to do something, I’ll tell you one thing — you’d be much better off to say, “I’d be happy to.” I’m going to feel better about asking you, you’re going to feel better about doing it,'” she said.

Cup of G.U.T.S.Y to go

Everything comes down to rapport, Guest says. To establish rapport with others, she recommends adhering to “G.U.T.S.Y.:” Genuine interest in other people, use a person’s name, talk less, listen more, smile — know your body language, and yes, yes — get others saying it.

Reset your L.O.S.

People use the word “sorry” when it’s inappropriate, according to Guest.

“So many people are sorry people — you use the word ‘sorry’ a lot. I think it’s insulation against people who are agitated with you,” she said. “There are sorrys you don’t need to say.”

Businesses need to reset their language of service, she says. Rather than saying “sorry” when a bathroom is out of order, she suggests hanging a sign similar to one created by Ben Larson, of KOA campground: “Plungers needed. Interested parties apply within.”

Ask for what you want

When asked what the secret to a happy marriage is, Guest’s dad, after some thought, said: “We can’t read your mind. Put some words to it.”

Communication is key, Guest says. Ask.

“No matter how hard you slam the cupboard door, your partner will not hear, ‘Please empty the dishwasher,’” she said.

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(Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.)​