Raise your hand if you're scared of public speaking! Don't Worry, I've got your back! by Tania Katan

photo by Elijah Tiegs

photo by Elijah Tiegs

Raise your hand if you're scared of public speaking. It’s ok, you’re not alone! In fact, public speaking is the biggest fear of all Americans. It even beats out heights, zombies, clowns and roaches! But here’s the skinny:

With clear tools, confidence and exercises you can present, pitch and panel like an oratory rock star!

So, the question is: If you had the tools, confidence and work-out plan to flex your public speaking muscles; How soon will you start using your voice to inspire a team, enliven data, charm investors, get funding, and move an audience of 10 or 10,000 to champion an idea/cause/concern that just might change the world??

This holiday season give yourself the gift of Public Speaking!

We will find:

  • Voice: Develop it and bring out all your unique goodies, allowing your speech to shine!
  • Story: Writing a dynamic and powerful story / presentation / speech that connects to, and engages, a specific audience.
  • Confidence: Gaining the real confidence and strength needed to speak in front of 10 or 10,000 people.
  • Humor: Infusing humor into your speeches, especially difficult and downright heartbreaking ones.
  • Physicality: Physical presence, vocalization, projection, breathing and embodying your speech.
  • Overcoming: Learning how to work with and through fear and anxiety on stage and on the page.

If you ever wanted to engage, entertain and inspire audiences to take action…Let’s Speak!

"I hired Tania to help refine one of my talks and it was some of the best money I've ever spent. Not only is Tania a genius writer who helped make my script waaaay more concise, organized and, of course, hilarious, but her wise input on how to command the stage, move my body, what the hell I should do with my hands, etc. was priceless. She is a natural born storyteller, gifted performer and an excellent coach. I give her an A+"
—Jen Sincero, #1 NY Times Bestselling Author

3 Creative Ways to #GiveTuesday and Beyond! by Tania Katan


'Tis the season to spend money, time and energy investing in crappy plastic stuff or... Creative ideas, organizations and mighty actions! Here are 3 ways to support creativity this holiday season!

1. Support a museum that exists inside of you!

Museum of Walking founded in 2014, in one of the least walkable cities in the nation, Phoenix, Museum of Walking (MoW) is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the practice of walking as an art form. How effing cool is that?! Answer: Very. OH, and the physical museum space is in a super small, rundown office! The point? That the museum of walking is inside of us!

There are regular artist-lead walks that invite us to disconnect from technology in order to reconnect with each other and move with the landscape in a mindful way. As an active walker, these walks are transformative, leading us from the poetic to the political, the mundane to the ceremonial, and promoting a way of listening to the world.

Donate a few tax-deductible shekels to MoW

2. Give the gift that matters...grey matter!

It’s time to Pick My Brain! What better gift to give a colleague, friend, parent, stressed out boss, mentee than a little piece of my wildly creative, caring and focused brain! For. Real.

'Tis the season to take your idea, company, team, and creative mojo to the next level and I've got the brain to help you do just that. My brain has come up with some awesome ideas for even awesomer people and companies (A+E, HBO, CEOs, Authors, Curators, Social Workers, People of all stripes + more).

For a 60-minute phone call or Skype session I charge 350 clams (although my mom says I should charge a million), however, from now until January 3rd, you can pick this gray matter for $297!

To give the gift of grey matter...click HERE

 3. Be mighty!

There, I said it. How many times (a day) are you like:

I want to give a TED talk someday.
I’m ready to start a movement!
I’m gonna ask for a freaking raise already!

And then, how many times (a day) are you like:

Public speaking is the number fear of most people, so I’ll just pace myself.
I’ll totally start a movement after I’m finished watching Season 3 of Transparent.
My salary is 50% less than the national average, and my boss is kind of a bully, but I’ve been in abusive relationships before, only this one pays me, so it’s not that bad...right?

This holiday season give yourself the gift of being mighty! It starts with taking action. Just one teeny tiny action a day towards something that you’ve dreamed of doing and that totally terrifies you.

Today's Teeny Tiny Action:

  • Write the title of your speech.
  • Come up with one concern or cause that you want to champion.Acknowledge one skill that you bring to your work that is totally unique.
  • Hire a coach, create a support team or commit to journal writing....develop a regular rhythm of accountability.
  • Tomorrow: Add another tiny action, freak out, move forward anyway, celebrate often, repeat. 

For more creative inspiration, listen to my recent interview on NPR’s Arizona affiliate, KJZZ!

Want MORE Creativity At Work? Time To Think INSIDE The Box! by Tania Katan

Art by Mayme Kratz

We are constantly bombarded with messaging, brands, and well-meaning friends telling us that the answer to ALL of our work and life problems is simply to: Think Outside the Box! Like that will magically help get us unstuck?? The fact is, if we take the time to explore what’s inside the box and reframe it, we’ll start to see everyday situations, symbols, and tasks as opportunities to create fun and freedom inside some of the most rigid or mundane settings. Even if those places are, ahem, our own minds

So, today, we’ll start with an easy exercise I call: Reframe Your Little Box! (Job Title, duh.) It’s quick, invigorating and F-ing fun! And you can do it at work, hell, you can even make it a company-wide game!

Here’s How:

  • Make a list of all the tasks you actually do at work: process orders, design stuff for people, maintain relationships, eat snacks when nobody is looking, build websites for schools, etc. 

  • Take a look at your tasks and find alternative words and ideas that, basically, mean the same thing as what you do everyday, e.g. If you “design stuff for people” perhaps you are an Art Conduit and if you “eat snacks when nobody is looking” maybe you are “CEO of Devouring Mischief.”

Do it as a team building exercise. Exchange your list with a colleague’s list and come up with Job Titles for each other!

I do this all the time, it’s a great way to stretch your creative muscles and be open to creative possibilities in work, in title, and in the least likely places!

In fact, a friend of mine who’s an Architect, inspired this exercise. During a casual Saturday morning coffee together he said, “Tania, I really want a cool job title like the Imageneers at Disney!” So, I’m like, “Ooh! What about…. Erectioneer! Cuz, you know, you erect buildings and then, the eer part from Disney and, it’s funny, cuz you know, you have the capability of getting an…!”

So, remember, if you’re a Front Desk Manager who has a killer sense of humor, puts everyone at ease, answers the phone, responds to and writes emails, mails letters and packages. Maybe, in fact, you’re the Curator of Communications, Dispatching Diva or Fabulous Confabulator!

Have fun with it, dig deep and write down all the things you really do at work to come up with ways to reframe all the good stuff already inside of your box! Ok, that did sound dirty, you know what I mean.

Share your reimagined job titles @taniakatan, I'll pick the most, ahem, compelling one and give that person/team a free 30-minute Creative Coaching Session!

More tips, tricks and exercises for Creative Trespassing coming into your inbox!

Art by Mayme Kratz

by Tania Katan

When you receive a letter that has an official The White House logo on it, you basically have two options: jump for joy or run for the hills! Fortunately, I was a jumper. It read:

Dear Tania,
Congratulations! You are one of the nominees chosen to attend The United State of
Women Summit on June 14th here in Washington, D.C. We appreciate the work you do to
further gender equality and hope that you’ll be able to attend.

So, yes, my job at Axosoft (and in life) is disrupting the status quo, especially when it comes to gender representation in STEAM fields! As co-creator of the #ItWasNeverADress campaign, I speak to thousands (getting close to millions) of people about shifting perceptions and assumptions about women in the world.

Last week, I joined 5,000 women in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever White House Summit on the United State of Women.

And, I’m sad to report, like most government agencies, the line to get in was really long! Fortunately, everyone in line was a “changemaker.” It was filled with leaders, organizers and activists from around the globe who are rallying for economic empowerment, changing health and wellness policies, creating bridges into education, starting businesses, and changing the culture to end violence against women.

It was like summer camp for the most inspiring people you will ever meet!

After more than 13 hours of the most electrifying, heartbreaking and dynamic speeches, stories, panels, and songs; after the President of the United States of America said, “This is what a feminist looks like”; after Jaha Dukureh, a survivor of female genital mutilation said, “I stand here to represent a forgotten population: girls who are a footnote in research papers and never make it past lunchtime conversations”; in the wave that is Oprah Winfrey taking the stage and in her iconic “You get a car!” voice screaming, “We are here for the UNITED STATE OF WOMEN!!”; in a room full of women of color; full of survivors; full of doers, dreamers and those who dare, we reached a peak.

Perhaps that’s why they called it a summit.

When I left this historic event, deeply moved and profoundly inspired, I kept thinking, what’s next? How do we take this momentum and turn it into action? What can we do every day that will make a difference? How do we continue this movement? How do we, in the words of First Lady, Michelle Obama, “BE better”?

“BE better.”

Turns out, the trailblazers presenting at The United State of Women Summit created a map to help us take action! I identified 6 key roadside attractions I’d like to point out.

6 stops on the road map to being better

1. Disrupt the status quo.

“Disruption is the only thing that causes change.” -Brittany Packnett, Teach for America

Go ahead, pick a system that is clogged up: the economy, education, health care, safety… and interrupt it! Let’s take women in technology for instance. As an Evangelist for a tech company, Axosoft, my job is to stand up in front of 2,000 or more technologists and tell ‘em why it’s important to embrace diversity.

Oftentimes, I’m the only playwright in the room, the only woman in the room, the only LGBT person in the room. As I see it, the more I show up, the more I’m myself, the more I point out subtle (and not-so-subtle) injustices that exist when we think everyone is the same, the more meaningful conversations we can have.

“Strategically disrupt the status quo by men and women working in tandem. There must be a willingness to be present, a genuine desire to listen, and the ongoing commitment to transform men.”                                  -Matt McGory, Actor on How To Get Away With Murder

2. Make a pledge.

A pledge is a promise, an undertaking, an action. And guess what? We’ve been pledging our allegiance to the flag of this awesome country since we entered the school system, so we know how to do it!

Make your pledge to ensure all human beings are seen, heard, safe, supported and given the resources that every human being deserves.

“I will use my voice in service of those who don’t have a voice right now.”
“So, President Obama and I started It’s On Us—to wake-up our colleges and universities–and the country–to the epidemic of sexual violence on their campuses.”                                                       -Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States

3. If you don’t see something, say something.

Oftentimes we are at work, on a panel, in the audience or simply flipping through a business journal and become painfully aware that women and people of color are missing from these spaces; so let’s say something!

Adecco’s research shows that 85% of large global enterprises believe that diversity is critical to fostering innovation in the workplace.

If we say something, we’re helping our companies become more innovative and we’re honoring the company we keep!

“If your companies, organizations, and boards don’t have women, you’re not doing women’s work.”                                          -Cherno Biko, CoFounder, #BlackTransLivesMatter

4. Humor is a serious tool.

As we all know, chitty-chatting about politics can raise one’s heart rate and, sometimes, alienate the very people we need to connect with in order to create change. Next time you find yourself, ahem, raising your voice at an opposing P.O.V., try finding a connection that you and your adversaries share. Crack a joke, and you just might just make a new ally!

“We use humor. It’s a great way to get people in politics talking about important issues.”                              -Erin Loos Cutraro, Co-Founder & CEO, She Should Run

5. Stop name-calling and start dreaming + doing!

When Mikaila Ulmer took the stage, small in stature, but HUGE in confidence and focus, she reminded all of us big shot adults, that the true source for innovation is dreaming; no matter if you are 11 or 100 years old!

“Entrepreneurs hold the American dream & the biggest dreamers are kids.”                                         -Mikaila Ulmer, 11-Year-Old Businesswoman and Entrepreneur

When First Lady Michelle Obama was in conversation with Oprah (yes, it was amazing), she spoke candidly about the name calling she’s experienced on social media, the bullying aimed at women and at people of color, and the intensity added when your husband is running for president.

Early on in her husband’s bid for office, she stopped engaging in all the noise and realized that, ‘It’s what I do, not what you call me.’

Do you have a dream of leading your team in creating new software, wanna write a book, travel around the world, start your own business?

Ask yourself, ‘What is one thing I can do today, to move forward on my dream map?’

It’s time to do one thing. Reach out to a software developer, start writing, buy a ticket, email an entrepreneur and ask for advice. All it takes is one gesture to swiftly move your dreaming to doing!

6. Make caring your business.

“When you’re building a culture, every person matters.” -Melanie Whelan, CEO, SoulCycle

Whether you’re at the helm of a large company, like SoulCycle, or compelled to start an organization, like Kechie’s Project, caring is a powerful catalyst! What do you care deeply about? It’s time to pair your skills with your caring and innovate the workplace as well as the worldplace!

“In 2011, my 68-year-old mother was kidnapped for ransom in Enugu State of Nigeria and was held for two months… This situation has increased my drive to give a voice to other women in Nigeria and other countries in Africa, who cannot speak out for themselves against the onslaught of injustices.”  -Nkechi Ogbodo, Founder and President, Kechie's Project                                                                          

What do you stand for? What are you willing to stand up to? How will you dream big and do better? Tweet your actions @taniakatan or share on Face Book

TEDx: It Was Never a Dress... by Tania Katan

This TEDx Talk is mostly about suspension of disbelief and the power of risk-taking insiders, like Axosoft, as well as creative instigators, and the possibilities to shift perceptions and assumptions when the two combine forces!

Did You See IT?!!! by Tania Katan

Find out what happened when all the passengers on an airplane (except for me and the flight attendent) turned to see something at the same time! 

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more.

The Robin Hood of Good Ideas! by Tania Katan

If you like my "personality" Vote for it; I'm nominated for a Stylos Award! Click HERE and you'll see me under "Personality of the Year" and you'll also find #ItWasNeverADress under "Project of the Year"!

Ted Cruz is my HERO and I’ll tell you why! by Tania Katan

Well, first you should know: there are two Ted Cruzes. True story. Ted Cruz from Texas and Ted Cruz from Arizona. And like some epic morality play, there is a protagonist Ted and an antagonist Ted. Sometimes they switch roles, but stay with me, the storyline is simple to follow.

In this morality play, both are aiming to represent humanity, both are being challenged by notions of good and evil, and both are Everyman!  

The play starts with Texas Ted Cruz announcing his candidacy for president. Then, he (being super tech savvy), enters his full name, plus .com into the search bar to find… ANOTHER TED CRUZ is ruling HIS domain! Some screaming, crying and threats to shut down the government ensue. Scene Two: Arizona Ted Cruz gets a call from Texas Ted’s “people.” They make Arizona Ted Cruz a modest proposal: We will give you a lot of money, and you will give us your domain. In that moment, Arizona Ted Cruz had a major moral decision to make! See, Arizona Ted possesses slightly different political views than his Texas counterpart. The question hung in the air for Arizona Ted like a thick cloud of smoke from a Texas barbecue cookin’ up some steaks! Take the money, or take a stand? The stakes were high and the other steaks smelled so damn good! What was he gonna do?!

Now, we’re going to take a 20-minute Intermission. Just kidding!

So, here’s how Arizona Ted Cruz answered his big ol’ morality question.

In my constant quest to find my own purpose or purpi (that’s a word, right?), I recently asked the following question on Facebook: What's your purpose? How does it connect to all of humanity? Is this something you think about too?

63 people commented immediately! Almost all of the responses said, “I think about this all the time.” Here are some of them:

“To make art accessible for everyone.” 
“Help hose who suffer from severe and often terminal illnesses with foods made from my garden.”
“For me my purpose comes from a Zoroastrian saying ... Goftare Nik, Pendare Nik, Kerdare Nik. Translation: Say good. Think good. Do good."
“Helping somebody else get up the rung of the ladder you just climbed.”

After reading all of these thoughtful comments, and learning about Arizona Ted Cruz, the only question left to ask is: What do WE stand for? When will we take a stand, start a movement, and create more visibility and voice for our fellow human beings? I don’t have the answers. I’m starting to find clues as I explore this deep and wily terrain. I believe in storytelling at all costs; I love creating conditions where people can find, and use, their voice; and connecting with people in real time, exchanging energy, ideas, and stories is why my degree in theatre pays off every single day of my life! 

What do you stand for? I’m listening. 

It Was Never A Dress. by Tania Katan

So, as you know, I’m an artist, writer, performer that works for a software company in Arizona, Axosoft. This, in itself should be a radical notion, right? I mean, it’s kind of the ultimate intervention or disruption to hire someone who doesn’t belong and then offer her/him the support, collaborative team, and time to explore and develop ideas. And, well…I came up with an idea. And, with an amazingly collaborative and smart team, we were able to launch it to an unbelievable response!

We launched #ItWasNeverADress at the Girls in Tech Conference in Arizona 4 days ago. As of right now, the hashtag “itwasneveradress” is reaching over 3 million people on Twitter and Instagram has over 2,000 posts referencing the campaign.

This idea came out of belonging. Out of women who belong in technology—and every other space—but are often overlooked, uninvited, or just plain dismissed. Not cool! I started thinking about symbols that represent women, and that are easily identifiable for mass culture. I thought of the bathroom lady. We’ve all seen her. She’s been in that stiff, triangle dress, looking uncomfortable for a long time. And if she’s a symbol that represents women, then no wonder we’re feeling trapped, rigid and uncomfortable!

So, I set out to see that symbol differently. What if we were just seeing her from the wrong side? Are we staring at her back? What if it was never a dress, but really a cape? What is she is a superhero?!

I made a photocopy of the vector, took out a pen and, in literally four lines, there was a super woman revealed right there. She was there this whole time. It was a profound perception shift. 

What a privilege to be a part of a much larger conversation. Right now, people are challenging notions of gender, of strength, of self-worth, of equality. The conversations are joyous, heated, necessary and unfolding. Looking forward to hearing from you! itwasneveradress.com

What Kind of IST Are YOU? by Tania Katan

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Sonya Renee Taylor perform her poem,  "When The Shotgun Questions The Black Boy" live at the Mesa Arts Center. It’s a hard poem to watch. It’s about a shot. It’s about shooting. About a bullet and the triggers. Be warned, this poem will blow you away. Taylor was compelled to write the poem after Trayvon Martin and Darius Simmons, after—and in the wake of— all the young black men that have been blown away. She says that the media and society have created a narrative that requires the victim to defend his/her character from the grave. Was he a good boy? Was he heading to college? Was he mentally ill? Did he do drugs? Was he going to jail? Was he good to his mother? Did he REALLY do enough to justify being alive?

So, right now, you might thinking, WHOA, this is some heavy stuff, Tania! I’m not an IST! I give money, I march, I protest, I do my part to promote social justice for all races, religions, genders, people, so… get off my jock, Katan!  Well, you might be surprised to learn that there's real pride in becoming a certain kind of IST, an Artist.

The Salon article “10 ways white people are more racist than they realize” is truly illuminating! Out of 10 different studies about beliefs and unconscious biases towards race, there is only one, very small, teeny-tiny exception to the IST rule and it lies totally hidden in parenthesis within #1. (with the sole exception of fine arts).

After experiencing Sonya Renee Taylor’s poem, I dove into a week filled with artists shifting narratives. Artist Mark Bradford’s spoke at Phoenix Art Museum about his Art + Practice project, which brings museum-caliber contemporary art and social services together in the place where he grew up, Leimert Park in Los Angeles; watched Theaster Gates’ TED talk on transforming abandoned buildings into community hubs that connect and inspire the people who live there; and in the wake of all of these artists (and more) challenging societal norms and using their voices to create movement(s), community, conversations, and new narratives, it seems insufficient for me to have the last word of this blog post.

"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." –Audre Lorde

I Licked a Wall Made Out of Sugar…Ask Me How! by Tania Katan


I am still high on PHXStartup Week! People like Marco Ceglie and Brian Critchfeild digging into narrative arc to connect with people; learning new acronyms: KPI, ROI—and my fave—CTA; and being immersed in the collective energy of people generating NEW ideas! Since last Monday, ideas have been leaking out of my brain and making their way into blank journal pages in the middle of the night. And, at the peak of my high (Thursday) I was invited to keynote at House of Genius!

House of Genius is awesome! It brings together 18 diverse, smart, and creative minds (attached to bodies, of course), once a month to listen to 3 entrepreneurs share a problem in their business. Then, the 18 take turns freely offering ideas, insights, and resources.

So, they wanted me to talk about storytelling. And, as if I needed an additional selling point, they said the walls were made out of sugar and I could lick them. If that’s not a house of genius… What is?!

I made my way up to the 12th floor of a building that felt like it was transporting me to New York or LA. When exiting the elevator the first thing I noticed was a sparkly, textured, edible wall. YUM. I casually inquired about licking the wall and received a smirk, “Oh, we just tell people that because they look like sugar. They’re just stone.”

Did that stop me from licking the wall? Hell NO! People laughed, we got settled in, and then I began to talk about storytelling.

“As a budding playwright in school…” I started, “All of your teaches, cohorts, and audience members give you the freedom and trust to create an entirely new world! But in order to create a new world, you have to SEE the world around you first. You have to see the everyday as extraordinary, dull as delightful, and the mundane as magnificent!”

As I talked about the tools I was given to see the ordinary as extraordinary: narrative arc, Aristotle, eavesdropping, empathy, conceptual and critical thinking, reading books/plays/poetry, attending poetry readings/plays/dance performances, visiting museums, watching films, I had a HUGE realization!

If businesses and organizations want the edge on engaging customers through storytelling, they NEED to hire people who have been trained to create entirely new worlds just by looking at the world around them!

So, I’m proposing a NEW idea: We rewrite the story of Why, How, and Who we HIRE. We start by going to plays, dance performances, poetry readings, art installations, and then we find out who the playwright is, the choreographer, the poet, the artist, and we invite them into our companies and organizations, and we offer them the freedom and trust to create and grow an entirely new world with us!

Let’s hire people who are trained to see a plain ol’ stone wall as one made out of sugar and who are brave enough to lick it!