Real Communication. Real Results.

Author, speaker, and coach, Betty Lochner is a passionate leader, with over 25 years of experience specializing in improving interpersonal skills, building and leading teams, training supervisors, and working with different communication styles and generations. 

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Lisa’s Nest: A Story of Limitless Love

by Betty Lochner on July 21, 2017


This month marks the 6th year I have walked in Seattle’s SummeRun.

My sister-in-law, Lisa, lost her battle with Ovarian cancer 5 years ago.  Our team, Limitless Love for Lisa, walks in her honor with family members and friends, to raise funds to benefit the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. Our goal is to end this horrible disease.

This year our team was a small, but mighty group.  Since some of us only connect annually at this event,  I always look forward to talking and walking with them. This year I walked most of the 3 miles with one of Lisa’s best friends. We had a delightful visit catching up and sharing stories and memories of Lisa. One of the stories we remembered together was about Lisa’s nest.

Lisa's Bird Nest

Lisa loved nature and wildlife. She and my brother, Bob, worked to make their property a natural habitat for birds and other critters. When her long, beautiful hair started falling out after cancer treatments, she would stand on their deck and comb it out.

After she died, several friends were helping Bob clean out the yard to get ready for a gathering. They found the bird nest pictured here, with Lisa’s hair woven throughout.

Lisa’s nest now has a place on the fireplace mantel and is a reminder for all of us – of the circle of life, and of the inspiration she left us by living her life to the fullest.

Lisa fiercely loved her family, the kids she taught and her circle of friends. She loved well and was well loved.

Her love was limitless and inspiring.

We miss you, Lisa.



Bob and BettyBetty Lochner is the President and Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She is an award winning public servant, human resources professional, an author, and national speaker.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit her website.


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Appreciation Notebook

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have access to all the kind words of appreciation and encouragement that anyone has ever said to us? You know, on those days where you wonder why you do what you do, or when life sends a curve ball your way. Or when you just need to be reminded that people do appreciate the work you’ve done.

Many years ago, when I was having a bad day at work, a mentor of mine told me about an “Atta-Boy” file he had started.  He collected all the nice emails, cards, awards, sticky notes, and other notes of thanks or words of encouragement that he got at work and put them in a file in his desk. When we was having a rough day, he pulled out his file and read through the notes.

That day, I started my own “Atta-Girl” file. Over time it outgrew the file and was moved into notebooks. Today I am starting my fourth notebook.

Included in my first notebook is one of my favorite notes (an email) from a former boss sent to me on my first week of work at the new job. It simply says “I’m glad you’re here.”  It still makes me smile. Another note I kept was from a staff person that read, “I really enjoy working for/with you because you are an engaged manger.  You pay attention to what is going on, provide guidance when needed and give kudos. Your job is not easy and yet you handle it all with grace and humor.” That one was from 1999.

Starting an appreciation file or notebook can be a huge confidence builder when you take risks and things don’t turn out well, or when your boss throws you under the bus (yes, it happens). Start one for yourself. Encourage others to start one. When things get tough, you’ll be so glad you did.

Because words are powerful.  Let them help you remember who you are.

Betty Lochner, Communication Skills ExpertBetty Lochner is the President and Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She is an award winning public servant, and a leadership and communication skills author, and national speaker.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit her website.

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“If we aren’t careful, we’ll be home ahead of schedule.” ~ Captain Randy

While sitting on a deck at a local restaurant, watching the sailboats pass by, I had to laugh.  It looks so simple, so carefree, so unstressful. Just sailing in wind and enjoying the view.  But, I know better.  I remember my first big sailing trip with my cousin “Captain Randy”, and it was anything but carefree.  In my experience, sailing really comes down to this: a lot of (preferrably skilled) work and really good communication.

Captain Randy with Alcobri in Victoria, B.C.The adventure started when Randy announced at a family reunion that he needed a crew to get his 34′ sailboat from Pt. Roberts to Gig Harbor, Washington.  Sounded fun to me, so I signed up.  I invited one of my best friends, Rachel, who had been sailing before (and could cook on a boat), to come along. We figured it would be a relaxing, fun trip for the three of us.
We were chauffeured by my land-loving husband to Canada to pick up the boat, then started the 3-day trip stopping in Friday Harbor, Washington, Victoria B.C., Kingston, Washington, and finally to Alcobri’s new home in Gig Harbor.
AlcobriHere are some of the important lessions I learned that applies to communicating on and off a boat:
  • Use the right jargon for the situation. A tiller may look like a stick, but it’s not a stick.  Saying, “do you need me to hold the stick?” is bad form.  Also, a rope is not a rope. It’s a  line.  Left is Port and Right is Starboard.  Don’t ask why.
  • Enunciation is important.  I was relieved that we had a depth finder, not a death finder.
  • Be patient. Sailing is a slow process.  We could have run or even walked faster than we moved when the sail was up. It’s okay to take your time and enjoy the scenery and conversation.
  • Your patience will pay off. In our adventure we saw several schools of seals and dolphins, a lazy sea lion on a buoy, a sleeping otter, and an entire pod of Killer whales.
  • Sailing is windy.  To have a good sail, you have to have power in the wind.  Don’t be afraid to face the wind and go for it.
  • Storms are scary.  When you are in the open sea and a storm comes up, there is a desparate need to get to a safe harbor.  And while sailboats are for sailing, sometimes they are best left safely tied to a dock.  Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition about safety.
  • Sailing is immense.  At one point, we sailed on 35 miles of open sea. It made me think about what a small part we play in a big world.  In other words, keep things in perspective when you get a little too full of yourself.
  • Things may look exactly the same but really they aren’t.  We went in and out of Canada and it all looked basically the same, but the rules were very different.  Oh, and you will get charged international phone roaming fees.

It was a great trip, but most important, we didn’t hit anything (though we came awfully close a few times), and we survived a pretty wild storm.  We had great conversation, beautiful weather, unfilled time, fun ports, and met interesting people. And, yes, we learned some valuable communication lessons along the way.


Betty_boatBetty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips.  Both are  also available on Kindle at

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:


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Note: This post was originally Published on the College Savings Plans Network Blog 

School may be out for the summer, but it’s the perfect time to teach some financial literacy skills to help your students succeed. Recent research shows why kids need your help:

moonjar• 62% of college graduates expect to complete school with an average of $27,236 in student debt (The Student Monitor).
• More than 19% of American households have college debt (Pew Research Center).
• Around 56% of adults don’t have a budget (Nation Foundation for Credit Counseling).
• 76% of college students wish they had more help in preparing for their financial futures (KeyBank).
• Over a third (35%) of graduating high-school seniors feel unsure or unprepared to manage their personal finances (Capital One Financial Corp).
• Only 20 states currently mandate personal finance education in their schools (Council for Economic Education).
• Individuals who receive personal finance education have higher rates of savings, make bigger contributions to their retirement accounts, and have a higher net worth (U.S. Department of the Treasury).

Here are five small ways you can incorporate teaching financial skills to your children this summer.

1. Practice practical math.
Studies show that the school subject that has the most impact on students’ financial outcomes is math. Students who take additional math courses practiced better credit management than other students, and had a greater percentage of investment income as part of their total income. Encourage solving every day math problems, or do math worksheets together as part of your summer routine.

2. Open a bank account.
School-aged children can learn the value of handling their own bank account, no matter their age. Depending on their age and maturity level, they can learn to track expenses and pay with a debit card (and learn the consequences of over-drafting). They can also learn to read a monthly statement and review credit card offers to see how interest rates and credit works (

3. Learn about and utilize a Moonjar.

A Moonjar is a kid-friendly tool that teaches kids how to use their money. The Moonjar has three coin slots: one labeled “spend,” another “save,” and a third “share.” The idea is to encourage children to save a portion of their money (teaching them about budgeting, delayed gratification, and making wise spending decisions); and to put money aside to share with others (demonstrating that your family feels it’s important to give to worthy causes).

4. Build budgeting skills.
Pick a small event, like a visit to the grocery store for fruit or snacks, and give your child a budget. As the child decides what to buy, they can learn to distinguish between needs and wants. With older children, parents can talk about the family’s daily finances, starting with actual bills. Show them the cellphone or utility bills and explain how they’re paid monthly.

5. Model good financial behavior.
Practice discipline in your own spending. Remember the concept, “if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.” This one may be the most important, yet the hardest, of all.

This summer, talk about financial issues and ideas as often as possible: over dinner, while you’re playing games, when you’re shopping, or when you’re planning for a vacation. Look for teachable moments and grab them (find additional resources here).

Helping your kids create responsible financial habits while they’re young can be an investment that pays off huge for their future.

About the Author:
Betty Lochner, Communication Skills ExpertBetty Lochner is the President and Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She is an award winning public servant, and a leadership and communication skills author, and national speaker. She is also the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. Under her leadership, the GET program has grown from 7,900 to over 100,000 accounts, with a fund valued at over $2 billion. Lochner currently serves as Past Chair of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN).

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Clarifying Your Message: Three Steps to Effective Communication

Often when we communicate, the person you are talking to will not really understand what you were trying to say. The result can be misunderstandings, hurt feelings, unanswered requests, and even damaged relationships. You can increase the understanding by learning three simple steps.

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It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend. But, as I saw him on the curb waiting for me, things slowed down. I could feel life strangely being interrupted.

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