Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review/Preview: Past, Present, Future

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now." ~Alan Lakein, American Author, Time Management Expert
Since "Time flies!" and "Where has the time gone?" are likely somewhat common expressions or exasperations in your life, how great is it that we have a chance to look back on time, and unlock the keys to our successes and opportunities to be present in our plans, and look ahead to what is to come! I use what I call The Year in Review/Preview for this fun, reflective, planning activity.
Your Year in Review/Preview is to be done alone, and can be shared with others who complete the Year in Review/Preview or those who do not...it's up to you!
The idea is to go back through your experiences, your memories, and any anticipation or angst in order to ready yourself for each month of the year ahead.
Allow quiet reflection when completing the Year in Review/Preview. Finish each statement without hesitation or concern for how others would perceive it. The "something else" section is for anything else you want to share. Do this for each month as you look back at 2012 and ahead to 2013:
1) My favorite memory of this month
2) The smell/taste I associate with this month
3) The best activity for the month
4) Something I plan to do
5) Something I don't plan to do
6) Something else about this month
7) Someone I will see/outreach to this month
8) Something I will stop or start this month
9) A personal goal/accomplishment for the month
10) Professional goal/accomplishment for the month
The outcome anticipated is to gain perspective, and have a plan when approaching the chunks of time we call months (and years). This is an effective planning tool, a sharing tool (if you make that choice), a balancing tool, and a fun tool for many!
Enjoy! Make it a terrific time in your life for appreciating the past, being present now, and for planning for a great future!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Get Serious About Being SILLY!

“We find it hard to believe that other people's thoughts are as silly as our own, but they probably are.” ~ James Harvey Robinson quotes (American historian (1863-1936)
While you may be "serious" about someone or something, please embrace, and even insist on also being silly for a bit. Being silly doesn't mean you're flaky or dumb, disengaged or distracted, rather silly means:
S - Simply
I - Including
L - Levity &
L - Laughter for/from
Y - You
And, you may be surprised to know that following your "silly" other people and situations often seem a little lighter, smarter, engaging and even command a little more focus!

Celebrating Results and More...

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." ~ Greg Anderson, American best-selling Author and founder of the American Wellness Project. (b.1964)
When you are on your way to the "big" year-end, the "big" party, the "big" close of a sale or project, please remember the (seemingly) little efforts and each person and action that lead to that finale as well!
The results and ends to things can be fun to celebrate, and a little more easily recognized, while the "in process" is worth your recognition, too!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Little Things

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things... I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.”― Leo F. Buscaglia
Whether it is a Monday, a Thursday, a holiday or any day, it is often the little things that either make someone smile or simply get overlooked. Taking a wee bit of time for the little things is a choice, and one you are encouraged to make...over and over again! What are some of the "little things" to which I am referring? Here are just a few:
Smiling at a stranger (and keep smiling even if s/he does not smile back)
Holding the door for someone who is a bit farther away than a couple of steps (and not getting frustrated if that person doesn't put his/her hand out to support the door instead of just stepping through or doesn't say "thank you)"
Letting someone in on the road/traffic (even if they miss the wave to thank you)
Waving to someone who lets you in on the road/traffic
Sending a thank you note
Complimenting someone for something they did
Calling someone to hear their voice instead of just texting
Saying hello and addressing an issue to a colleague at his or her desk instead of emailing/instant messaging all day
Paying for a stranger's coffee or meal while you are out or they are behind you in the drive-thru
Letting someone tell a story they like telling again (even if you have heard it many times)
Saying "please" and "thank you"...and meaning them both
While these are just a few ideas for this great day, remember that the big things get celebrated, but often the little things are what make a difference!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving: Over or Ongoing?

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher,Social Reformist & Speaker (1813 - 1887)
While the leftovers may be nearly gone, and you might still be "working off" the day of food and indulgences, Thanksgiving need not be "over"!
Sure, the 4th Thursday of November is behind us, and the calendar is about to be turned to another month soon, and yet there is every opportunity to turn the past into the present by keeping the feeling, the attitude and the actions of being one of "thanksgiving" alive and engaged!
I don't mean bake, fry or slow roast a turkey each day, nor am I suggesting you need family and/or friends around to give thanks. Absolutely, it is a terrific day of coming together, sharing, appreciating (and even eating and watching football), and I, like many of you, enjoy the festivities and traditions, too. Still, at the heart of the holiday is the idea of gratitude for what we have and hope for what we will create. There is a respect and calm (and that is not just the tryptophan) that comes around that one day....and it need not end with the Black Friday sales.
Instead, consider embracing each little luxury like freedom, friends, family, similarities, differences, opportunities, challenges, life, love, growth and learning each and every day...in your own way. You may opt to volunteer, write a note, share a compliment, hold a door, let someone in on the road, openly state your gratitude, or quietly appreciate someone or something. Whatever you choose to do, add a little courtesy, take a second or two, and make that conscious, appreciative point of not letting the feeling of Thanksgiving be over...rather...keep it ongoing!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fix the Issue, Address the Person

“Never let a problem to be solved become more important than the person to be loved.” ~ Barbara Johnson, American best-selling author (B. 1927)
While it can be time-sensitive to address an issue or a mistake, it is important to remember not to break a person while fixing a problem! How we approach a situation is often as lasting as the fact that we do correct an error.
Unless there is malice or intent to destroy/destruct, then please keep in mind that the steps are to:
1) discuss and identify the error/problem
2) assess the correction options
3) agree on the best action to take (and when)
4) ensure it is clear to avoid the same or similar error in the future
5) let it go and let the person take the action and implement the learning
You may find that in a some environments you feel it is best if you act first and then address things. If that is the case, share the timing and what you did as a result, and then go through the process above for coaching.
While these steps may seem lengthy, they can be done quickly, and with dignity as well as accountability. This is not an attempt to soft-sell a mistake, rather the opportunity to not only make something "right" while addressing it in the "right" way!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The BEAM of Friendship

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” ~ Brandi Snyder
Being alone can be empowering. Accomplishing something yourself is an undertaking. And yet, there are some times, many times, where the power of another person, especially a friend, can make all the difference in the world. That friend can even allow you to feel more welcomed, assertive, confident, important, fun, funny, and just real!
According to Dictionary.com, the verb form of beam means to emit in, or to smile radiantly, and, after all, isn't that what friendship can do for us?
Today, and each day, extend that BEAM of friendship, meaning:
Be a friend (not too busy for others)
Embrace a friend (who doesn't like a hug from someone who care)
Ask a friend (often another opinion can assist you with your direction)
Make a friend (you can never have too many!)
In our gratitude, interaction, and celebration of friends and our friendships, we shine a little brighter, and do make the difference in this world...we even beam because of it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Know Their SIG Factor...

“Everyone is a millionaire where promises are concerned.” ~Ovid, Ancient Roman classical Poet and Author of Metamorphoses (43 BC-17)
When people are interested, they make promises. When people are committed, they take action. The difference in their interest and their commitment...their promises and their actions, depends on their SIG Factor.
The SIG factor is something I quickly assess in situations, and it means:
S - SKIN
I - IN THE
G - GAME
What, how, and how much of is a SIG Factor for those involved? When you expect a lot of people, you must communicate it, make it appealing, and tap into the reward/motivator of that person. From any or all of the following: the desire to participate, the enjoyment of doing what is asked, the outcome of the experience, the incentive that is available, the SIG Factor will be increased or decreased for each individual. Ensure you set your prediction of the level of delivery based on how well you have incorporated the other person having Skin In the Game in order to evaluate and anticipate properly.
The higher the SIG Factor, the greater the likelihood that the interest will yield commitment and that the person's promise will beget action.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Meeting While Eating - Business Dining Simplified

"No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation." ~ Fran Lebowitz, American Writer and Humorist (b.1950)
There are times when you are anticipating, and even expected to dine while conducting business. The holiday season that is nearly upon us, often brings about more of that than we typically experience. I am no food snob, or even Emily Post, and yet, I get asked to share tips and thoughts on Dining Etiquette, which I call "Meeting While Eating" fairly often, and here are my top 10 points to ponder:
1) When leaving the table during dinner, you place your napkin on your chair seat or back, and not on the table...it's dirty, let's keep it off the table. And, when you have your napkin in your lap, keep it folded over with the fold toward you (no bibs or tissues for your napkin's use!).
2) All electronic devices stay off the table during dining. Bring them out only before or after eating (preferably after). Not even having the phone off and face down is okay...it tells people you are possibly interested in something other than them while you are together. Let that time with the other person be "enough".
3) When you are not sure what drink or break plate is yours at a set table, Think "b" and "d"...bread and drink. By putting your thumb and first finger together under the table, you can remind yourself of that to use as "yours". And, if someone takes yours, be kind, and discreetly ask the waiter or waitress for another plate or whatever it is, instead of calling someone out who doesn't know the Think "b" and "d"...bread and drink trick/reminder!
Also, if you use sweetener/sugar packets, the empty packets are to be slid under your plate slightly, and not wadded up on the table. The waitstaff will discretely dispose of those.
4) Keep purses, keys, sunglasses, bags and portfolios off the table while eating. All accessories on the table should be related to the restaurant and/or the meal, and not coming from you...put them in another chair or under yours...or better yet, leave them locked in your car trunk!
5) When at a cocktail party, keep your right hand free to shake hands. Carry your drink in your left hand, and resist carrying food when you're on the move. Stop and eat, dispose of the plate, and then socialize. And, at all types of line-served food, buffet or cocktail party, get a new plate each time you get food.
6) When passing bread, butter, dressing, etc., you offer to your left and pass to your right. And, while we are on passing - the salt and pepper are passed as one unit...even if someone asks only for the salt.
7) Even if you are clearly at a business lunch or dinner where a sale may take place, it is not okay to bring out papers and demo items/products during the meal portion of the meeting. That can be messy for the papers and items as well as the people, so wait until you have finished eating...after all who has ever signed a contract with their mouth full of food?
8) It matters what and how you order when at a group dinner or event! Watch the lead of the host. No doggy bags. Watch ordering appetizers, finger food, desserts, coffees and drinks, as you could be "that guy" or "that girl" who is the only one with 6 courses! Use "please" and "thank you" with wait staff, as they are doing their job, just as you may be doing something related to yours!
9) Chewing of anything other than food is inappropriate - no ice, gum or items will enhance a business meal meeting.
10) Remember, unless you have agreed ahead of time, s/he who invites, makes reservations, pays, and thanks someone for joining, so keep that awkwardness of the bill off the table, so to speak, by being clear ahead of time.
Meeting while eating is a way of life for most of us, and these tips will keep you enjoying yourself, your company, your meal, and your results!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Do You DARE?

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” ~ Seneca, Roman Philosopher (BC 4 - AD 65)
With so many opportunities out there, do you DARE to to go after one?
By DARE, I mean, do you focus on:
D - Desire - what do you want?
A - Attitude, Actions, and Accountability - what are you thinking, doing, and owning?
R - Results - do you have plans, goals, accomplishments for which you are striving?
E - Examine - will you look at how to make things happen, and others' success?
DARE to do it, DARE to be who you want to be, and DARE to seize those opportunities!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Make Change Palatable with "Adjustments"

"A year from now you will wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb, American Writer
If change is something you dislike, avoid, or find others don't welcome, consider thinking of change and/or presenting it as an adjustment or an adaptation, instead.
Since change itself is not necessarily what people dislike, rather it is how it is presented that is unappealing or sadly, inconsiderate, presenting the change as something that is adaptable as an adjustment, shows more appeal, and is considerate of the other person/people.
This can work internally for yourself and externally with others, as it is realistic and palatable.
Remember, push change, and get resistance. Offer adjustments, and get collaboration!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Move from Intent to Execution

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”` Chamfort,French playwright (1741-1794)
Sometimes we have an interest and even a desire to get things done.
Other times, we make getting something accomplished a priority.
These feelings are similar to a point, and then there is a distinction in what does or does not happen from there. One has intent, the other yields results. One can lead to another...
Flatly, the connection from intention to execution is ACTION...act now, get results, be accomplished!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Is Right In the World?

"Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it." - William Penn, English Quaker leader and Founder of Pennsylvania (1644-1718)
When people ask me what is wrong with our world today, I like to think in terms of what is right...because so much is right! Since our actions are our attitudes, and attitudes are contagious, here are a few actions to consider:
1) Speak with someone to his or her directly instead of talking about that person behind his/her back.
2) Offer fixes instead of finding fault.
3) Let your effort outshine your ego.
I'll bet you'll not only make more friends than enemies, you'll make more of a difference for someone (minimally yourself) rather than just an impression on them...and doesn't that just feel right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Maximize Your Mozumility!

"I believe that every person is born with talent." ~ Maya Angelou, American Author and Poet, (B. 1928)
While I may have trademarked "Moxumility", there are many people I admire, and strive to learn from, who I believe exemplify the combination of Moxie and Humility. Sally Brundage, my former English and Theater teacher is one of those women, and Maya Angelou is another. I bet you have a few of those men and/or women in your life, too!
Having the moxie, the confidence and direction to stand up for something and/or someone (often yourself), and also exemplifying humility, the ability to step back, let others get credit, learn and grow with an appreciation for others and your surroundings, is something we all can do. Here are my top 10 ways to Maximize Your Moxumility:
10 - Be the expert in your space for your size, clients & offerings. Stay in that expertise and refer out to others in different areas of expertise.
9 - Be trusting to be trustworthy. Get a mentor, be a friend, and earn the right to be trusted over and over again.
8 - Be responsive instead of reactionary. Know that reactions lead to apologies often while response follow thought and consideration...leading to engagement.
7 - Be contagious. Network, and be someone worth knowing. Check your attitude, and ensure it's worth "spreading"!
6 - Be grateful instead of just full of "great"s. Being positive is one thing, being a Pollyanna is another...and not one of moxie or humility. While things may just be okay or good, be grateful for what you do have instead of what you don't have and go from there.
5 - Be absolutely, positively addicted to the truth!
4 - Be more interested in others than interesting to others. Be conversational with questions and not just stories, replies, and "I", "me", "my".
3 - Be about "What?" and/or "How?" over "Why?". Why keeps us in the past, where what and how allow us to move to the future.
2 - Be the product, and be the value. People will "buy" you long before they purchase a product. Know that, believe in you and your service or product, so others can "buy in"!
1 - Be an intentional example that others can sample. Practice what you promote. Volunteer. Give back. Let others "eavesdrop" on leading, success, and of course, your moxie and your humility!
So while you are filled both with moxie and humility, please remember to balance, combine and hone them with your own form of "moxumility"!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Awareness, Attitude, Action...Alas!

"Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it." - Jules Renard, French Writer, 1864-1910
While being aware of our strengths and growth opportunities is something that is important for each of us, those bits of awareness serve simply as data points for us unless we check our attitudes about them, and eventually take action.
The attitude we take based on our awareness can be positive or negative, as we can either think of how to incorporate the facts/feedback, or we can plot to defend the reasons we are the way we are. By positively viewing ourselves in a perspective of offerings and improvements, we allow ourselves the chance to both give more of ourselves and grow.
Without the open awareness and forward-focused attitude, our actions will either be to do nothing, or to do things that perpetuate or support keeping us "as is". Being aware with an embracing attitude will combine to lead us to actions that serve us well. The actions for our strengths that are productive are to exercise them, utilize them, and share them. The actions for our growth opportunities that allow for improvement are to understand them, implement new ideas/concepts/approaches, continue to recognize progress, and to stick with it.
Alas, our awareness drives our attitude, and our action is our attitude. What we know, we can process, and what we process, we can implement! So, get aware, check your attitude, and take the action that works for you in your strength-support and your growth-getting each day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Forgivness Instead of Sorry-ness

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese (1923-1976, American Businessman and Writer
When you realize you overlooked someone, something or said something inappropriate, ill-timed or just incorrectly, rather than stating “I’m sorry” please consider replacing that often overused expression with the request of “Please forgive me for…?”.
The reason for doing this is to make yourself vulnerable, relinquish control and allow the other person to decide how s/he wants to respond.
Asking “Please forgive me” means you know it is required/requested and that the person who was wronged is in a position to acknowledge and respond…to accept your admission or not. “I’m sorry” still recognizes something happened that was not quite right, and yet it expresses your focus on self and wanting to feel better for you rather than letting the other person’s feelings come first.
It’s a small change that may offer a new perspective, and a new consideration for how an error can be amended, and it is my belief that a sincere “Please forgive me…?” will convey a deeper interest and sincerity that a quick “I’m sorry”! So while missteps will occur, how you handle the acknowledgement of them is up to you…

Friday, September 7, 2012

Personal Change Can Be LED!

"When in doubt, choose change." -Lily Leung
Yesterday I was asked a question that is asked of me fairly often by new clients or individuals taking the LUND or DiSC Assessment, and that question was "How do I change something that is not in my personality, but I want to improve it?".
Change cannot be simply wished upon us, or even thought about to make happen, rather it is a three step process, and I believe it is about how we are LED...not by someone else, rather by ourselves! Here are those steps to being LED to change:
L - Learn about what you are seeking. Read, ask, investigate. Get informed, so you are aware and know not only about it, but about the reasons you want to do it.
E - Expose yourself to people who are doing it. Gain experience through others on what they are doing and the results they achieve.
D - Do it. Push yourself to make the actions that it takes. By doing something for 21-28 days, a habit can be formed. No habits form and no change occurs without doing something!
So, whether it is to be more considerate, listen fully, engage others in conversation, lead by example instead of directing, or whatever it is you want to improve, and therefore, change, ensure you are being LED by you, for you, and look forward to the impact!

Friday, August 31, 2012

WOW or "Wow-Effect"?

"It is generally agreed that "Hello" is an appropriate greeting because if you entered a room and said "Goodbye," it could confuse a lot of people." ~ Dolph Sharp, Author
There is a difference in a real "WOW" and just the wow-effect.
While it may be tempting to quickly tell a client or customer "sure, we can do that" because you want to get the business, or to say "I am not sure if we can do that" because you want to surprise the client or customer when you do get "that" done, are you really being a person who WOWs, or a person of woes who is going for the wow-effect?
Those who WOW go above and beyond, surely, and it is done to care for a client or customer, patient or another person. Wanting to wow is terrific, ensuring a wow by setting something up without an appropriate expectation (what I call the "wow-effect") is setting you, and your clients/customers/patients up for woes eventually.
Appropriately promise and appropriately deliver (Instead of under-promise and over-deliver, also know as "sandbagging" or over-promise and under-deliver, AKA "here comes the excuse") so that your WOW moments come in things that are truly special extras, and not just based on timing that you manipulated or inflated in order to have the wow-effect!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Character Creates Community

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." - Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
While your house can become your home with your personal touches, your surrounding area can be more than just a development or city...it can really become an extension of you, it can become your community.
Community is a word often used for an geographical area, and not so commonly felt by the people who live near one other yet share no common purpose or drive.
So how does one become part of a community? Here are my ideas on sharing your character, taking action, and really generating the sense, the feel, and the belonging of COMMUNITY:
C - Care with compassion. O - Offer time, opinion, input. M - Mentor someone else. M - Meet your own goals. U - Understand the strengths of the area. N - Now is the time for you to decide if you want to be a real part of the community. I - Invest in your area...personally and/or professionally. T - Tell the story of the community each chance you get. Y - You'll benefit too, and yet it won't even be about you!
When you care, offer time, mentor others, meet your goals, understand the strengths, know that now is the time, invest in the area, tell the community story, and see the benefits to you, it will be a labor of love for your community...a real flexing of your character muscles!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Recommendation Letter Considerations

"One should not confuse the craving for life with endorsement of it." - Elias Canetti, Swiss Author (1905-1994)
Since I have applied for organizations and an appointment recently that required letters of recommendation, and having been asked for letters of recommendation half a dozen times in the recent months, it seems timely to "talk" about considerations for such letters. If you are seeking something...a job, admission into school, membership, etc., you know the most about the opportunity, and about you, so please consider the following guidelines for seeking and/or providing a letter of recommendation:
1) Ask more people than required (some people will not respond or participate).
2) Plan ahead with dates and times as requests, so that you can also send kind reminders without a panic.
3) Write a draft of the letter yourself if you are the seeker. (Yes, you write it, as you do not want to impose a huge time request on the person you are asking, and you know the two to four highlights you want to cover for the particular position/opportunity you are seeking.) If someone asks you, reply back to the person by asking that person seeking the letter to draft a letter first.
4) Start the letter with anything other than "I". Beginning with "Having had the pleasure of working with So-and-So" since...". or "So-and-So is someone who demonstrates..." is a positive, powerful way to begin!
5) Address the letter to the reader "To the Board of XYZ", or "To the XYZ Selection Committee" versus "To Whom it May Concern".
6) Provide more than one paragraph...and no more than four.
7) Change the letter to your liking once you receive it as the person being sought for a recommendation. Apologize for nothing you change, as to be sincere and keep your integrity, you want the letter to reflect what you feel/think. The seeker writing the draft is just an outline for you. Ultimately, it is your word, name and endorsement that is being recorded.
8) Proof the final product for dates, spelling and overall validity.
9) Ensure the letter is on letterhead and signed (even if scanned and emailed versus mailed).
10) If you are the seeker, if possible, plan to mail the hard copy yourself to ensure you know what product is going in, and that it is completed.
By allowing time and energy to spent on the letter of recommendation that you are seeking, you are likely going to get appreciative and eager supporters sharing in your journey instead of quick notes or the reply "I'd love to, but I just don't have time", or worse yet, something you are not proud to submit. Additionally, for the recommending party, you have made the effort minimal, and the participation and results will be maximized!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Appreciation Options

"Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune." ~ Sam Walton, American Businessman and Wal-Mart Founder
Today is the 223rd day of 2012, and for each day this year, I have shared a note of gratitude through my "Attitude of Appreciation 366" personal project whereby I send a handwritten note to someone (or multiple someones) every day including Sunday for an entire calendar year. This has been a great experiment in my attention to others, and a great experience in the personal rewards gotten from feeling good about others. I share this with you not so you can feel bad about not sending note cards or tell me how many you have sent, rather this is one approach to appropriately appreciating others. Appreciation can come in the form of verbal, written or what I call "carry forward appreciation".
Verbal appreciation is well given and typically well received if you state something like "NAME, you are ____________". This way, the message is not "I think you are ____________", and it makes it more about the other person than you (and isn't that where you'd ultimately like the focus to be?).
Written appreciation can be in an email, note, card, or document to a team. The same approach of using the person's name, sharing something s/he did that was impressive, kind, or otherwise, will go a long way. Make every effort to respond to someone within 24 hours and minimally within a week following something you'd like to ensure the person knows you appreciate.
Carry-forward appreciation is the referral or the complimenting of a person to another person whether the subject of your appreciation is present or not. Carry-forward appreciation is much like "spreading a good rumor" as it is fun to do, and impacts both the person hearing you and the person about which you are speaking. Telling someone "NAME, you may already have a physician, and if you are looking for someone for a second-opinion, who is highly qualified, won't keep you waiting, and has tremendous interest in patient's well-being, you may want to consider Dr. XYZ, as s/he has been all those things and more to me."
Whatever style fits for you, please do show appreciation often. When done sincerely, it is the no-cost way to increase the value of your relationships. Expect nothing in return, and likely your appreciation will offer a lot more than just the words to the recipient, and will still bring so much back to you as well!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your Work Completion Style

"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions." ~ John Randolph, US Politician (1773 - 1833)
Time is one of our precious, non-renewable resources. We know this.
Work takes time. We make time for things that we want to get done, and sometimes feel like we must get done. I am a bigger fan of wanting to get something completed, as it creates desire and not obligation, but this article is about knowing how you address time when it comes to work, and in particular deadlines and deliverables.
Since we are amidst the 2012 Olympics, I will call the three approaches Bronze, Silver and Gold, as they all can be successful...depending on your personality, effort, expectations and outcomes. The three approaches are immediate (Bronze), just-in-time (silver), and project plan (gold). While I am using the medals as a reference, it is not that gold is best for all, and silver is better than bronze, rather it is about knowing your style and either accepting it or intentionally changing it, instead of thinking you should be doing something differently when what you do works for you!
Bronze style means you get back from a client, out of a meeting, or have a thought, and immediately work on what was discussed. If bronze is your approach, then ensure you schedule time after each meeting, sales pitch or brainstorming activity.
Silver style is that of a person who believe s/he "works best under pressure. They tend to schedule things back-to-back and fill the days with new and more things, people, and opportunities. If you are silver approach person, then book work time in your office close the day before something is due. Ensure you book enough time, as silver style people often underestimate how long things will take!
Gold style is the project manager style approach. This is a person who wants to work a bit at a time. If you are a gold approach person, book blocks of time each week or every few days in order to chip away at parts of the work you have to do.
The Gold style may seem ideal, and it likely paces things well, but if that does not work for you, then either schedule yourself because you want the process to work, or step away from the idea of "what should be", and embrace what you are.
Bronze, Silver and Gold medals all get accolades and recognition at the Olympics, and each of the approaches to completing work can, in fact, work, too, as long as the time is allotted and planned for appropriately! I personally work all three styles with different clients and various deliverables.
Consider what is the best bet for your situation, and then embrace it...Olympic style!
Here I am running with the Olympic Torch in 2002...on my way to being excited for all that was to come!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Desire, Doubt or Dread

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure." ~ Bill Cosby, American Comedian & Actor
Not everything goes the way we want it to go, and surely sometimes it seems as though there is "too much" or "not enough" whether we are thinking about projects or time, or a litany of other things. Still, we are all pretty fortunate in our opportunities and undertakings...for the most part. Studies have shown that not only our abilities, but also our attitude greatly impact the results of our efforts. And, while most of us likely think we have a good, or even great, attitude, or minimally, a positive attitude, how are you doing on your self-talk, or even your "chatter"? Are you speaking in terms of desire, doubt, or dread?
I often encourage people to speak in terms of "WANT TO" instead of "need to", "should" or "have to", and that is still the case. Now, I hope you will consider minimizing, if not eliminating things like "I don't know how I can do that" (doubt) and "this is impossible" (dread), and event things that seem pretty innocent like "I can't believe this is happening" (doubt), or "I can't wait until this is behind me" (dread). This seemingly innocent chatter we share with friends, family and colleagues can be the death of our direction, as it is feeding into our questioning of our abilities and interest, and therefore, our attitudes. The DESIRE to complete something may sound a lot like the last example given, and yet instead of the "I can't wait until this is behind me" (dread), positioning your mindset in the words "It'll be great to complete this!" or "When I am done with this, I'll celebrate the accomplishment", or even "I am making strides toward finishing this" all send the message that it not only can be done, it will be done, and it is manageable.
This is not meant to be phony, and sure, it may sound like a bit of a trick to your mind. The reality is, our attitude becomes our actions. If we dread something, our behaviors will likely seem put-off or less than interested. That is not how you want to be perceived, right? Change your dread or doubt to DESIRE, and watch not only your approach change, but others' response to you change as well!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Interview Savvy - Both Sides of Table

"Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire." - Dan Zevin, Comic Writer
When we think of interviewing, we may all have different experiences, and yet, rarely is there someone we meet who has not either been interviewed or the interviewer who had an interesting story to tell, right? To avoid being the butt of those stories or jokes, here are my top ten lists for both interviewers and interviewees: For an Interviewee, after fully researching the school or company to which you are applying:
1) Ensure you are genuinely interested in the company, and if you interview during work hours, take vacation, and better yet, ask if you can interview off hours first. 2) Test your interview "look" standing, sitting and moving in front of the mirror after selecting it carefully. 3) Test your driving or transportation route prior to the interview , and arrive in the lobby 8-12 minutes early (not earlier, as you will likely just be in the way. If you arrive earlier, wait in the car.). 4) Take many resumes, a portfolio with paper and two pens (in case one fails), but leave your water bottle or coffee at home. 5) Smile, listen, be ready and engaged (be genuinely friendly to each person you encounter). 6) Look people in the eye, shake 2-3 firm pumps and stop shaking as you shake hands with each person you meet. 7) Ask no questions about pay or benefits on the first interview, but do ask if you may take notes, and then if they say yes, take notes 8) Have 3-4 deeper than surface level questions regarding the company ready for the end of the interview 9) The last question is: "Having spent this time together, first, thank you, and second, is there any reason at this point that you would not hire me?" (Be ready for the response!) 10) Know the interview is about fit - for both you and the company, so enjoy it!!! And then, go home and email and mail thank you notes to each person with whom you engaged that day. Mail them immediately.
For an Interviewer, after fully vetting the resume of the person for whom you are interviewing, and developing the core competencies for the role (6-10 of them):
1) Take control of the interview by greeting the person, saying your name, welcoming him or her, thanking him or her for being on time (if s/he was) and then looking at your watch to say what time it is, and how long the interview will last. Ask the person to sit, and gesture to where. Once he or she is seated, start the engagement fully. 2) Share what the process for the interview will be (I recommend saying something like "For the first couple questions, please just take two or three minutes, and then we'll get into the more formal part of the interview, and then I'll leave time at the end of the interview for your questions and I'll cover next steps." Smile, that person is likely nervous! 3) Ask the person for a resume, and then say something like "Tell me a little bit about you...", and see where it goes. (Don't let it go past 3 minutes - you already set the expectation.) 4) Thank him or her and ask "What did you do to prepare for today?" (This tells you about research, readiness, eagerness, etc.) 5) Explain that we are now moving into the more formal part of the interview, and for each of the next X questions, you will be seeking specifics such as the background, action and results (I call this RAISE the BAR). 6) Listen for the BAR for each question (have one question per competency). Only interrupt or correct for the "always" and "never" answers twice, as you are seeking specifics, but you do not want someone who is not listening at all to you. Mark on your page a 1 or zero under each the B(Background), A(Action), and R(Results). 7) Walk through the job description and ask if there is anything the interviewee wants to share briefly now that it has been fully reviewed. Listen. 8) Ask the last two questions of: "We have all had disappointments in life or something not go the way we expected, please tell me about one of yours.", and "What has been your greatest accomplishment or success so far?" 9) Allow time for Q & A (expect some, and don't rush it). 10) Share next steps including what happens next to when all the way through when you would like to have the position filled. Thank the person, and stand up to walk him or her out.
While you surely have additional tips, I welcome them, and in the meanwhile, minimally incorporate some or all of these for a savvy and enjoyable interview experience!

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Positive Put-Down

Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries. - Astrid Alauda, writer
When we think of water, and glasses filled to the mid-point, it may conjure recollections similar to the following: -The optimist sees the glass half-full -The pessimist sees the glass half-empty -The realist says "Let's get the proper sized glass" and -The opportunist drinks the water!
In hearing (or reading) that, we may question in which category we fall...the optimist, the pessimist, the realist or the opportunist...
While that may be a thought-provoking way to think of it, there is another mindset around that water glass, too! Imagine if you thought about how heavy that glass was. It's not heavy really, is it? You take drinks from a glass fairly regularly, I bet. You take the drink, you put down the glass...no big weight issue there, right? Still, if you held the glass for an hour straight, the glass might start to feel awkward and uncomfortable in your hand, and to your arm. Now, if you held it overnight, you may need some serious pain relief, and if it were held for a few days or a week...imagine the "weight" of that little glass of water...you may need medical attention for that pain or damage!
Now, think of the glass as stress, anger, disappointment, or anything else that at first can seem manageable. How long have you been holding it, and how heavy is it getting? When are you going to put it down? We are going to "pick up" stressful things, get angry, be disappointed, and even overburdened at times. It's what we do when we realize it that determines the "weight" of it on each of us. When will we handle it, or in effect, put the "glass" down? Remember, the issue or opportunity is not as heavy as we often allow it to be. The burden of carrying something need not be without relief, so when you have anxiety, distraction, stress and other things you are carrying for hours, days, weeks or longer, decide for you that you are going to be the one who is, instead of carrying it, will make it a "positive put-down" by addressing it, releasing it, or simply letting go!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Please Root FOR, and Not Against

When we root-root-root for the home team, we're rooting for our home as much as the team. ~ Richard Roeper, American Columnist
Whether it is a baseball game, a work meeting, a debate, a beauty pageant, an election or the upcoming Olympics, when you are cheering for someone, please ensure you aren't jeering another.
What I mean by that is support for one person, team, idea or country need not be the bashing of the opposition. Rooting for something you like, believe in, or hope will succeed is just that "rooting". In the unofficial definition of rooting (read as "my definition") rooting is 'pulling for, showing support in a positive, encouraging, professional manner'.
Your rooting may mean a vote, applause, "who hoo"s when the person, team or candidate is presented, and it also may simply mean silence to hear what is said, or an open mind and non-distracted eyes to see what is done. It may mean wearing the colors of the team, or a button of the contender, or sharing verbal and non-verbal agreement with a concept or proposal. It need not be the trashing of people, ideas, parties, etc. just to get noticed, get the crown going, or to get inside the head of whomever you are not rooting for.
There are many ways to root, to support someone or something, and all of them can be done without any negativity, attack or ill-will toward those not receiving your outright support. Please consider respecting an opponent is as much rooting for your idea, player, participant, candidate or country, as all of the other actions you can take. And, yes, hopefully all that "rooting for" leads you to your ultimate victory, I do not want to overlook or negate that. Still, by practicing the root, root, root, as in the quotation above, you really can be a rooter filled with cheers and not jeers, and no matter the final outcome of the discussion, meeting, event or competition, you will not have presented anything but support and can hold your head high for how you handled the opportunity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

F-Words that Ascend, Not Offend

"We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out." - Winston Churchill
One of my favorite Lundbergisms is "practice what you promote...no preaching required", and it is my practice to attend trainings and speaker events throughout the year, just as I promote and provide learning events in my business. So, recently, clients and friends joined together to engage in some personal growth and learning of our own!
While I will not disclose the location, date or event name, you can imagine our surprise when we registered months in advance, arrived to find nothing ready, the kick-off started over 40-minutes late, and the opening comments by the host included the F-word (and I don't mean "fashionable")! Embarrassed, dismayed, and recovering from the shock and disappointment, I lead a quick discussion on how we can learn what not to do just as well as we can learn things to do. We turned it around, and even got a smile out of it. We made the most of the event, and the conversation got me thinking even more...what is it about words that can be so inspiring or so damaging...
Please know I am a far cry from perfect, and I am not a stranger to a curse word. There is a time and a place for how you want to communicate and be remembered. From that unfortunate opener, I came up with some alternatives to that oh-so-memorable F-word. These F-words, whether used out loud or as an internal guide will likely ascend you and your business and others' perceptions of you, rather than offend. The list includes:
FOCUSED - Remember to keep your client, customer, audience and team as your focus with your words. They are thinking about them, and not you, so focus on their interests. Also, stay focused on your expertise, so you can really hone it! FRIENDLY - Rarely do business leaders get criticized for being too friendly. That approachability is what makes someone real. It is both the smile and welcome that people prefer to remember over the rushed and disinterest that too many of us have on our faces and in our body language. FREE-THINKING - Being open to ideas and concepts that may seem different or new can keep you fresh. You may not implement everything, but by being someone who considers options, you will minimally broaden your horizons. FORWARD-MINDED - Consider what and how actions and words impact the person, the company and you later. While I am big on being present, it is also wise to think beyond the moment and the emotions in order to think through what is about to happen. Impact often overrides intent! FLEXIBLE - It is not only nice to show agility, rather it is almost imperative to be willing to change in our wonderfully-paced world of growth and "newness". Demonstrating an ability to shift and flow is something most of us admire and respect. FIRM - Interestingly enough, I put Firm after Flexible. What I mean by this word and the order, is that it's terrific to be willing to collaborate and alter plans, and at the same time, to be respected, you do have to take a stand, and professionally hold your ground when you believe in something wholeheartedly. FABULOUS - While this is one of my favorite words, being fabulous is more than a look or a one-time mention. Being fabulous is being happy for others, supportive of what is right, and willing to stand up and stand out for what you believe in while respecting others as well.
So, while this summer's traffic, heat, storms (and more) inside and outside your work or business may bring thoughts that are less than favorable, remember, there is no failure when you stay FOCUSED, FREE-THINKING, FORWARD-MINDED, FLEXIBLE, FIRM and FABULOUS!

Friday, June 22, 2012

SUCCESS Through Difficult Conversations

"A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month's study of books." - Chinese Proverb
What makes some conversations more difficult than others? Surely it is the topic, and it can also be our perception, our approach, and our own discomfort. Hoping things will go away or change is ideal for a moment, but eventually, just idealistic. As a leader, there are going to be potential difficult conversations to lead. First, decide you are going to have them, and then determine how to handle them professionally, and, for the sake of you and the other person/people, quickly! I view the situations as a DPD road to Success. The DPD stands for Decide, Prepare and Deliver. The SUCCESS comes from how you handle the last, most critical part, the delivery. Here is an overview:
Decide. Before you launch into a plan, please consider the following: Is this useful? Is this opinion or input? Is there a solution?
If the conversation will just be hurtful, filled with opinion, and more of a "hit-and-run" criticism versus a chance to address and resolve something, don't have it. People mistake complaints and thrashings for difficult conversations, and those are only difficult for those of us who thought you were a leader and find you were not leading, rather ranting if you do that. If the conversation is useful, for input, and there is a solution, proceed.
Prepare. Think this through beyond the concepts above. Go into a tactical approach, including: What to say. What not to say. How to say it. What if...
Know that certain facts and concerns are to be included. Bringing up superfluous ideas and the past may just be "piling on", so be certain things are not unrelated, or simply hurtful. When addressing someone and something like this, keep tone, eye contact, and compassion in mind. Know what you hope to have as an outcome. Similarly, think "what if this goes differently?". Consider the personality, personal history, and personal attitude of both you and the other person in the conversation. Expect the best, and still prepare for the worst.
Deliver. Do it. Ensure this is done face-to-face whenever possible. Even if you are on the phone due to distance of the relationship or situation, please embrace the following in delivery: Privately. Personally. For growth. With compassion.
By ensuring the person's privacy, and bringing the "e" to human and being humane in your delivery, you will ensure the person knows you want him or her to grow as a result of the conversation, and not feel embarrassed or ashamed. This is something you will discuss and put in the past. When you are compassionate and clear, there will be SUCCESS in the tackling of the difficult conversation quickly and kindly while being firm and focused. SUCCESS comes from all the following:
Seek permission. Make sure the person knows you are having a meeting. Something like "Is this a good time to talk for 10-15 minutes about the XYZ client lunch?" Use a soft start. Give the person a chance. "How did you think the lunch went?" may be appropriate, and something like "How ARE you doing?" may work. Let the other person take the lead on recognizing things. S/he may not, but a soft start (Not a "Boy, you are in trouble here!" or "You've got me in a really bad place") will allow the compassion to show. Consider feelings and facts. People get emotional. You may. Keep to facts whenever possible. Calm with mood not humor. While discomfort can bring out the worst in our "humor", let it rest. Resist the temptation to say something light, or to giggle or laugh to "lighten the mood". Instead, focus on being calm and professional, so the other person will sense your mood and likely follow your pacing and positioning. Express impact of change. Let the person know s/he can make the change. Move to solution and change fairly quickly once the situation is outlined. Also, share how the change will positively impact his/her image, impression, feelings, and position. Stay clear and stay positive on this one. Straight-forward in language and tone. Watch the "kind of", "sort of", and "sometimes you might", and even the "you might want to consider" language. I love "you may want to consider" for offering ideas, but in difficult conversations, language and tone are to be firm and fair, clear and concise, so instead, something like "it is imperative for your success and growth that you...". Seek agreement/follow-up. With all of the above happening, you are not dictating, rather being a guide and leader as you manage the situation. Let the conversation end only when you and the other person have agreement. Ask for it if there is little said or expressed from the other person. Getting it may seem invasive, and yet not having a plan to follow-up (specifically with a date/time to cover it), you may be left in ambiguity and facing a much more difficult exchange.
Few of us enjoy difficult conversations, while most of us enjoy growth and being the catalyst for it in ourselves and others. Having difficult conversations for SUCCESS will enable that in your relationships, so take the DPD approach to things like inappropriate behavior, changing roles, odor, personality, language, and other issues I hear about frequently, and experience the impact of addressing things instead of simply hoping for change!

Friday, June 15, 2012

4 Cs of Hiring/Transitioning

"It is all one to me if a man comes from Sing Sing Prison or Harvard. We hire a man, not his history." - Malcolm S. Forbes, American Businessman and founder of Forbes Magazine (1919 - 1990)
Whether you are seeking a new team member or looking to change roles, if you are the person hiring or the one looking to be hired, please keep the 4 Cs of Hiring and Transitioning in mind, and in action. For a change to work, remember to assess all of the aspects mentioned here, as we tend to cover one or two, maybe even three, but rarely all four, since we let time, the referral, emotions, or simple distraction get in our way. Those 4 Cs are: Competencies, Culture, Commitment, and Character. Competencies are to be defined as a number (ideally 10 or fewer) attributes that are necessary for being able to complete the tasks and get the job done. Some may be customer-focused, detail-oriented, independent worker, creativity, etc. These are not just words, but definitions that can be assessed and interviewed to/for in a behavioral style. People can "sell" us a great line of always and never, when we really want specifics to prove the competencies have been demonstrated. Culture is about attitude, flow, communication, and expectations. Someone can have the competencies to do the tasks, but not the feel, vibe, comfort of the environment in which s/he will work...and you want all of it! People who are casual, and the culture is business professional, or people who are low-tech when your firm is high-tech, are likely not a cultural fit. People who are new to the idea and open, may be a fit. Watch snap judging here! Commitment is about focus, desire, and the ability to show a stick-to-it-ness. Flexibility in what happens plays into commitment in that someone does not run when things change, and yet commitment means that person will dig in and get things done when needed because it is the right thing to do. Commitment is less about words, and more about actions. Ensure there is talk about adversity, opportunity, change and choices here. Character is a judgement. Right or wrong, nice to say or not, we are a society where character gets tested. This is the bringing together of your gut feeling with what was demonstrated. Be mindful of not getting caught up here with credentials over the core of the person. For some people and companies, the definition/concept of "character" becomes one of the competency, and for others, it is a sense of the person. Give scenarios where challenging decisions come/came into play. Character is not about charm and likeability, rather it is a mix of competencies and commitment working in the specific culture. In a way, this is both the foundation and the umbrella for the "fit", and yet reviewing someone or some team for character is often where things are missed. Often, like in dating, we take hiring tremendously personally. We will...each of us is a person, therefore, we take things personally. Still, with the 4 Cs in mind, we can be a person who looked at each aspect, and decided if there was a fit or not on both sides instead of feeling like we either won or lost, were "it" or not, or that we "performed" well or not in an interview or during the vetting process. Remember, making a hire, or transitioning to a new position is not just an action, it is a decision, and it is not about a fix for a problem, rather it is about growing the business and growing personally/professionally. Ensure the 4 Cs are part of your next move, and see how you view the hiring or transitioning differently!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

3 Ps of Meetings

"Life it is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics, it's about experience, it's about participation,it is something more complex and more interesting than what is obvious." ~ Daniel Libeskind, American Architect (b - 1946)
Since many of us have a lot of meetings on our calendars, and with time being one of our non-renewable resources, let's make the most of them! The 3 Ps of meeting success are that people are prepared, present and participatory...if you are not, for what reason are you in the meeting? Being prepared may be about a readiness to learn, being present is not allowing distractions for that short time, and being participatory may mean conflict, encouragement, questions and/or idea-sharing. Stick with the 3 Ps, and meetings will be most meaningful!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day, Memories & More…

“Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist ( 1803-1882)
With Memorial Day nearly upon us, often we are thinking summer, end of school and moving forward. What did it take for us to be able to think these things? It took direction, dedication and sacrifice. Thank you to all who left us with but their memory so that we could make more. Each chance you have to make memories, please think of it not as work, or just another day, rather as an opportunity created for you by a stranger to you, someone who came before you, and wanted his or her work, his or her day, his or her chance to make a difference to really count. Do more for yourself, your family, your company, your community, your country. Do it out of direction and dedication to honor such sacrifice. Do it because you want to do it, you know each person deserves a good memory, and do it because Memorial Day is once a year, but the concept, appreciation and attitude around it can live on each day! So, enjoy the sunny days, the graduations, and all that is summer. Thank you to all who serve and have served, and thank you especially now, to those who did not get to experience life after their service. You are all in our minds, our memories, and more…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Communication: Differentiating Assumption & Expectation

High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. ~ Charles Kettering, American inventor, engineer, businessman (1876 - 1958)
Since most of us know the expression "Never assume...", and when you assume, you make...(of you and me)". These ideas give warning that assumptions are not a good thing. Similarly, we have notions of "high expectations yield high results", and "expect nothing; get nothing". These messages carry the connotation that expectations are a good thing... So what is the difference in assuming, and that not serving us well, and setting expectations, and those giving us focus? I believe the act of communication, effective communication, is what separates the two! Assumptions are often kept to oneself, and therefore, have no other opinion or fact combined with them to enhance or sway them. Assumptions also tend to be negative. I rarely hear something like "I assumed Debbie would do well, and she did!", rather don't we hear mumblings after the fact that are similar to "Well, I assumed you wouldn't show, and you did not."? Expectations can be private, but when most effective, are typically are stated. "You know this material well, and I expect you will finish this report by Tuesday and send it to the leadership team via email for them to review before Thursday's Board Meeting." lets us know the who, what, where, when and how. They convey a belief in someone else, and they are expressed to the other person. Assumptions seem dark and negative because they are often without consideration for the other person's talents or input, where expectations can be clear and positive when the communication that surrounds them has the intent of productivity and the message is clear. If you find you, or others you know are assuming, remember to communicate with (not just to) them about the importance of the message to move to expectations over assumptions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Conflict Creates Collaboration

"A good manager doesn't try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you're the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong - that's healthy." - Robert M. Townsend, Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT (b. 1948)
Being a leader does not mean having one or many "blind followers", and yet, in many organizations, people are expected, or simply do "Follow the Leader". When leaders discourage, ignore, or worse yet, clearly berate with those who have conflicting ideas or questions, they are not "winning", they are simply creating a culture of insincere, apathetic acceptance. And, is it really acceptance...or just compliance? I have yet to meet a leader who is thriving who is seeking compliant team members. Remember, having conflict does not mean disrespect, or argument, rather allowing and inviting conflicting ideas and perspectives is the way to consider all sides, know where people stand, and make an informed decision. Once conflict has yielded healthy conversation, there needs to be a direction, and not a dissension. This "agree to disagree" concept seems professional, but it is really at best, compromise, which is not a win-win, or at worst, just moving on instead of moving forward. Not everyone will get his or her way, but with conflict in conversations, and a decision that comes as a result of full discussion, people can get behind each other, get on-board about the ideas that were decided, and therefore, support the direction of the leadership...which will be at that point, their own based on the collaborative approach!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Feedback...To Give & Receive

"Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it." - Michael J. Gelb , Author, Speaker (b. 1952)
To be successful, really successful personally and professionally, it is important we want to learn to give and receive feedback well...not loudly, not softly, but well! To give positive feedback, please follow this format: NAME, you are... Or NAME, you have the ability to... Or NAME, you demonstrated such... Please stop saying "I think you are...". Make it about the other person. Be specific, be brief, be bold and be about them! When giving less-than-optimal feedback, please consider it as offering improvements by using language like below: NAME, you have the opportunity to improve... And, when you state that, offer a solution versus his/her fault. Rather than saying "Debbie, you are too loud in meetings", you could say "Debbie, you have the opportunity to connect with colleagues in meetings by lowering your volume and engaging with them in a tone that is inviting". When you receive feedback, please resist discounting it ("What that? I did not think it was that good") or defending it ("They don't get me", or "That's how I am", or "That's not what I meant"). Instead, a simple "thank you" will suffice. Success is not in being perfect, a part of being a successful, thriving person, though, is being perfectly happy and grateful for feedback received, and better yet, for feedback received, and implemented...those with whom you shared feedback, and that you got as well!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Maximize Your Moxumility

"You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know." - Oscar Wilde, Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900
MoxumilityTM is a word I have trademarked to show, express and encourage the idea of combining moxie with humility. While it is super to have the confidence (the moxie) it is also well-serving to know there is more to learn, experience and appreciate (the humility). Here are my top 10 ways to Maximize Your Moxumility. Additionally, here's a link to a 28-minute talk where I shared this as well: http://youtu.be/c23pkMRH1jE 10 - Be the expert in your space for your size, clients & offerings. 9 - Be trusting to be trustworthy. 8 - Be responsive instead of reactionary. 7 - Be contagious. 6 - Be grateful instead of just full of "great"s. 5 - Be absolutely, positively addicted to the truth! 4 - Be more interested in others than interesting to others. 3 - Be about "What?" and/or "How?" over "Why?". 2 - Be the product, and be the value. 1 - Be an intentional example that others can sample. Whether it is the video, or just the quick summary, here's hoping this tip reminds you of your moxie and humility! Thank you, and make the most of your moxumility!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Give it Your ALL!

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet)
There seemingly are so many expectations we put on ourselves, and additional demands we allow others to place on us as well. In the long run, all we have is who we are and what we do, so isn't it fair to strip away expectations and demands, and instead be determined to "give it our ALL"?

By giving it your ALL, I mean really owning and enjoying, assessing and sharing your:

Appreciation - being grateful for what you have and happy for others for what they have, and bring to the table as well

Loyalty - having beliefs, knowing you have and give confidentiality, and really developing trust and dependability that is enjoyable and comforting all at once

Laughter - demonstrating the real you, and even laughing at yourself and with others with humor and humility, pride and presence

When you are willing and able to give your ALL, you are in a position to truly experience and engage in ALL that is important to you, for you! So let go of some of those burdensome expectations and demands and replace them with desire and engagement so not only are you giving your ALL, you can get your ALL!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Collaborative, Constructive Performance Reviews

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions." - Ken Blanchard, American Businessman
Most of us like feedback...as long as we agree, right? Feedback is a gift when given and received well. As far as work goes, not wanting to give reviews, or feeling critical (leader) and criticized (team member) often comes up regarding giving and receiving feedback to/with employees.

With performance reviews, I encourage you to do the following on a quarterly basis:

Develop competencies for each role (only needs to be done once, and 6-10 competencies is usually best)
Assess the person to the competencies from 1-5 (no half numbers, with 5 being the highest)
Ask the person to assess himself or herself to the competencies from 1-5 (no half numbers, with 5 being the highest)
Share the assessments with each other
Discuss what is going well
Agree on what can be improved
Have an open discussion
Create a plan
Review the plan
Schedule the next quarterly review

I find this allows for input, discussion, coaching, and encouraging...without attacking or being too critical. In the end, the feedback can be collaborative, and a gift, so to speak, for each of you in growing your relationship, your team, and your business!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Becoming Your Own ACE!

"A miracle is an act or event out of the order of nature and unaccountable, as beating a normal hand of four kings and an ace with four aces and a king."

~ Ambrose Bierce (American Writer, Journalist and Editor, 1842-1914)

While the highest card in the deck for most games is an Ace, and the best pilot is called an Ace, and even the most impactful serve is deemed an Ace, it is understandable how many of us would like to be the ACE in our field.



What is different from just the phrase "An Ace", is how you are encouraged to get to that distinction of "ACE". Think of ACE in terms of your:

Attitude
Creativity, and your
Execution



For each aspect of the ACE above, there is a supporting ACE as well, meaning:



Your ATTITUDE is driven by:

Acknowledging and appreciating what is happening by being present and engaged.

Catching people and things doing/going well, and not just finding fault.

Exciting yourself with learning, people and opportunities.



Your CREATIVITY is harnessed and expressed by:

Allowing yourself (& others) to think differently without immediately thinking "No" or "That won't work".

Coloring your world with words and actions that suit your mindset and focus. Drab days seem grey, so paint them green or red, or pink or yellow in your creative mind and self.

Exuding "What else?" to almost every situation..."What else can I do?, "What else can I see, feel or create?", and even "What else can I let someone else do so s/he can shine?"



Your EXECUTION is about:

Accounting for your actions...good, bad, right, wrong. Own the errors and learn from them just as you pridefully accept the kudos you deserve.

Clearly defining and measuring goals by including actions, checkpoints, and others who will assist in inspiring you and holding you accountable.

Expecting results - both anticipated & other. Not everything will go perfectly, but sometimes the "mistake" is the best result ever (i.e. Post-it Notes)!



Go ahead, align your Attitude, Creativity and Execution for you to get to become your very own ACE!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Maximize a Coaching or Mentoring Meeting

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hungarian Scientist (1893 – 1986)
Interestingly enough, too often, we meet with team members and colleagues for coaching or mentoring only when something is going wrong. Perhaps there is a reason or two for not meeting with them when things are going well…sure, people are focused, even “busy”, but for some, it is because they do not think about it, and if/when they do, they are not sure what to cover.

When meeting, even if it is one that is last minute or seemingly casual or just a quick question, you can follow the guide below for ensuring effective communication, and getting to the points desired to discuss:

1. Agree on the amount of time you have available together
2. Ask what are the 2-4 things you would like to discuss
3. Share the 2-4 things you would like to cover
4. Ask the mentee to prioritize the combined list you both just created
5. Start at the top and work your way through
6. End on time
7. Schedule a next meeting to address the other topics (if any remain)

This collaborative approach serves both the Coach/Mentor and the Coachee/Mentee in having a methodology, respecting time, and getting things accomplished.

So, go ahead, book that meeting or schedule some time for “mentoring” or “coaching”, and enjoy the productive experience!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Make Your Own Luck!

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

- Seneca, Roman Philosopher
With St. Patrick’s Day nearly here, there is a lot of casual talk about “The luck of the Irish”, and more about being lucky. Even when it’s not the eve of the greenest day around, we often wish people “Good luck!”. Is it luck that is needed to wished or sent your way, or it there a way to create your own luck?

I believe you create such “luck” through the combining preparation and opportunity. The intersection between the two is luck or the good fortune outcome that results from your efforts and the situation!

Both of the factors – preparation and opportunity can be managed. You can consciously, or sometimes even unconsciously, increase the amount of preparation you do. You can also increase the amount of opportunity in which you place yourself. Adding both together, you can dramatically increase the probability of good fortune arising.

Luck still exists when the good fortune outcome defies the odds of preparation and opportunity. Every week someone wins the lottery in spite of infinitesimal odds. And sometimes the best laid plans go awry. But by and large, the degree to which you prepare and place yourself in opportunity’s way are the surest ways to achieve “luck.” So, perhaps instead of wishing people “Good luck”, or attribute something/someone to “being lucky”, we may just want to wish them to “Do your best!”, and compliment them on being prepared and seizing the opportunity! Whatever you decide to say in the future, now I wish a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

20 Seconds to Stress-less-ness

"Pressure and stress is the common cold of the psyche."
~ Andrew Denton,Australian Producer and Radio Host, b. 1960
Many people are feeling the crunch of work, home and other expectations. That's okay...sometimes that "crunch" becomes a driver, and it pushes us. But, other times, that "crunch" can feel like pressure and evolve into stress. If the latter is ever the case, please consider incorporating the following four quick steps:
1) Taking 3 breaths (in through nose and out through mouth)
2) Picturing something that is calming or sweet to you
3) Holding that thought and continuing that breath for 15 seconds
4) Smiling on the last breath to lock in that feeling of stress-less-ness
Isn't 20 seconds worth making that "crunch" get in line to allow you to stay calm and get the results you want?

Here's to a world that is not stress-free, rather filled with stress-less-ness!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Non-Traditional Organization = Traditional Success!

"Order is the sanity of the mind, the health of the body, the peace of the city, the security of the state. Like beams in a house or bones to a body, so is order to all things."
~ Robert Southey
English poet (1774 -1843)

Recently at a workshop on Assessing and Organizing for the New Year, I shared the following tips and tools. It was asked that I include them in the next newsletter, so here they are!
Often organization can seem daunting, and knowing that, these tips and tools are non-traditional...ways to assist you with organization for you, about you. Please use what fits, and consider incorporating a few as you continue on a successful path for 2012!

Establish a sleep time & a wake time (within an hour each day) for consistent rest. A well-rested mind is an organized mind!
Be a Project Manager (instead of a Project Do-er). Let others shine, and share in the opportunities.
Schedule clean-up time each day or clean as you go. Figure out which suits you, and embrace it.
Have an accountability partner who is supportive, and does not "let you off the hook". Be the same in return.
Schedule a time to return phone calls & emails (instead of constantly interrupting yourself).
Create a decompression routine for the shift from work to home (could be a song, a dance, a "reward", a scent, or a combination of these).
Book weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly appointments now, and schedule work/clients/meetings around those times. Taking care of you is being well and organized for others!
Cut 15 minutes out of each meeting or book starts for 10 or 15 minutes after the hour.
Do some mental fun-ness exercise each day like Scrabble or word search or Facebook - keep it positive!
Do worst things first so you do not procrastinate doing them. Then, reward yourself with doing something you enjoy next.
Recycle. This gives you something organized already.
Workout. People who schedule and stick to workouts are likely organized, energized, and even fit!
Cut yourself some slack. Adopt the "progress...not perfection" motto. This is not lowering the bar, rather celebrating small successes!
Act like a kid again to remind yourself life is fun!
Follow your heart...and your head will follow! Give logic a break once in a while, and let your "gut" be your guide to an emotionally organized approach!

With these non-traditional organizational tools, you will likely find traditional success...and more!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Message Me This...

"A message prepared in the mind
reaches a mind; a message prepared in
a life reaches a life."
~ Bill Gothard, American Clergy, b. 1934
Some of us may remember the days of busy signals and no voicemail options. There were times when if a human being did not connect with you, there was not a way to get a message to someone until the next call or the next day.

We have come a long way!! Still, with the technological advancements, we have gone backwards in some ways with our communication…in particular when it comes to messages for people.

With caller ID and immediacy in mind, often people do not even leave messages when calling anymore. Similarly, people often return calls without listening to a message if one is left.

Please leave a message if you want someone to return your call (instead of assuming that person saw your number and knows to call). And, when you leave your message, let the person know what you are seeking (rather than “Hey, it’s Debbie, give me a call”). This is a consideration of the person’s time, and if done well (with name, number, message, name and number), the person can return the call, and if s/he gets your voicemail, can answer your question and end the seemingly ever-lasting phone-tag that fills a lot of our to-do lists!

Likewise, if you are returning a call, please do listen to the person’s message before calling. This is a courtesy to that person, and, you can answer his/her question and you could end the seemingly ever-lasting phone-tag that fills a lot of our to-do lists!

So, while we get frustrated by not reaching someone, it could be worse, we could be hearing the wonk-wonk-wonk of a busy signal, or incessant ringing! Leave a message…listen to your messages. Having the ability to leave a message and communicate something is a great opportunity for each of us…failing to take advantage of it is not respectful of the technology or either person’s time!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Let Others Shine

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” ~ Proverb
As the successful person you are, you have likely been working for some time (and maybe that has even been a long while) to establish yourself and/or your practice or company. Congratulations on all you have accomplished! With the competitive spirit you have, and the drive you surely maintain, often it is not ego, rather habit that keeps you doing things yourself within your company or group.

Imagine yourself a few years (or more) ago when you were hungry for an opportunity…looking for a break. Did someone give you that shot? Did you feel good about getting the chance to shine?

This day, this week, this month, there is a time when you can either do what you typically do or let someone else have that opportunity to succeed, to do something new, to be the one “out-front”. Will you seize that moment as a leader, and relinquish the “do-er” part of you to allow someone else to get his or her break?

Go ahead, let them shine…after all, it will cost you little, and will be an investment in the leadership of both of you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Power of a List

A list is only as strong as its weakest link. - Donald Knuth, American Scientist (b. 1938)
Some of you are really good at making lists...especially "to-do" lists! There is some satisfaction in crossing things off the list for many people. Believe it or not, there are those among us who add things to the "to do" list after having done them...just to get to cross them off the list! Imagine that...

Lists can be good, they serve a purpose in some ways...and only for a certain amount of time. The power of a list is to take each "to-do", and give it a place. Once you make a list, get out your calendar and schedule each item. Even if the schedule takes you into next year or beyond, put those things in their place.

A list without a time and place to do each thing on it, is just your subconscious wondering when, when, when!!!

If we continue to make lists, and more lists, and different lists, we attempt to get organized, and what we really do is potentially fry our minds. Go ahead, make that "to-do" list, and then, right after it, schedule when and where you are going to accomplish those things, and then destroy the sheet on which you wrote your list...and then watch your "to-do"s become the catalyst(s) for action, and the first step in results rather than a piece of paper with lines and lines of things you haven't done!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Child-like Behaviors = Adult Results

“It is the childlike mind that finds the kingdom.” - Charles Fillmore, American Linguist (b. 1929)

When was the last time you acted like a child? Have you been recently you have acted childish? The two are not the same, you know!!! The former I am supporting, and the latter, well, I think you already know about that one…

We mature, responsible adults can get caught up in the seriousness of our adult lives, and yet being all too serious can eclipse the fun that we have to make the time to have! Sure, sure, we have places to be, bills to pay, proposals to finish, a dog that could use a bath, or a room to organize (really, does the list go on and on like that?!?!?), and yet unless we allow ourselves to “play”, we will feel the lack of fun in our personal and professional lives.

I am not promoting skipping an event for which you have RSVPed or calling in sick, rather, either allow yourself “fun time” each day or week for something (somewhat) spontaneous, and/or schedule something childlike or playful each day or each week. Playing can be one of the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for those we want to feel connected to personally and/or professionally. Much research shows children learn the most through active play. Play generates creativity, endorphins, relaxation, heart-rate fluctuations and/or all of the above!

So, make a list of something you can do that is simply fun. If it accomplishes no other goal than having a good time, that alone is enough. You may want to do this with your spouse, partner or team…heck even your whole company! You may want to be child-like all by yourself. That is up to you! Go ahead, get out there and enjoy your day, your week, your life like you did when you had less on your plate, and likely you will feel lighter, better, and even more equipped to tackle those adult responsibilities once you have played…once you have acted like the child you once were, in order to enhance the adult you now are!

Friday, January 20, 2012

How Feedback Really POPS!

“Action may not always bring happiness ... but there is no happiness without action.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881)

While we rarely want to get criticized, most of us appreciate constructive feedback…after all, feedback is a way in which we can reflect, take action, and eventually grow. Criticism often just smacks us down, defeats us, or drives us to change just to prove we can.

Well then, how can we share ideas for improvement without taking away from the efforts...and without being too timid?

There are many approaches to sharing insights, including the “kill ‘em with kindness approach the “lay it on the line approach”, and even the “Oreo cookie approach”. In my experience, if you want to really be constructive, professional and effective, consider using the “POPS approach”.

Where the “kill ‘em with kindness approach” can be wimpy and the opportunity to improve can be lost in niceties, and the the “lay it on the line approach” can be overly harsh and direct, and even the “Oreo cookie approach” of having that was rough/wrong first, softened in the middle with something that went well, and then finished with something else that was solidly wrong can still be negative, and even confusing. The POPS approach is:

Positive
Opportunity to improve
Positive
Summarize


In other words, it is the reverse of the Oreo, and therefore is about what is right, and how to enhance/change something in order to be even stronger. If someone gave a talk that was strong and effective, but few people could hear it, the POPS approach would be: “Sue, you had a strong opening with the statistics and that went well. You may want to use a microphone or learn to project your voice, as you had a lot of your audience straining to hear you, and that is the role of the speaker…to be heard. Also, your video clips were powerful and funny. So, stick with your stats, work on volume or a mic, and keep the humor, and you’ll likely have even a more lasting impression on the audience.”

By offering two sincere compliments and one bit to improve twice (one in the statement, and again in the summary), you are likely to be perceived as assisting the person, providing feedback over just criticism, and it will likely make a favorable impression that will lead to change/action versus defense or frustration on the receiver’s part!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Personal Advisory Board

Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present. ~ English Proverb

You are Me, incorporated. You are responsible for you, your happiness, your direction, your actions, and eventually, your results!
Whether you own your business, are a partner in a practice, work for a firm, or simply want direction in whatever you are doing, you may be lonely, looking for direction, or simply enjoy a sounding board of sorts! This is where a Personal Advisory Board (PAB) comes into play…

A PAB is a group of people you like, admire, trust and respect, who want the best for you and have other expertise/perspective than you do. The PAB consists of whomever you like, and I find it is most successful when you have no more than 10 people on it, and minimally, you have the following roles defined:

Driver – someone to whom you are accountable (likely a spouse, partner)
Cheerleader – someone who sees the good in you and most things, who believes you can do most anything (could be your parent or best friend)
Strategist – a business person who has a perspective of what may or may not work, timing and opportunities (someone you admire for his or her big picture thinking)
Problem-solver – someone who is a detail person who looks for resolve instead of conversation (a go-to person for issues)
Mentor – someone in your industry who can assist with industry or company issues (they have expertise in your field)
Coach – someone who can ask the what and how questions and give ideas from other similar situations (not a friend, could be a professional coach, a former teacher of yours, someone you trust and confide in from personal to professional issues – not part of your industry, likely)

The Personal Advisory Board members are not financially compensated, but you may want to consider a special gift of thanks each year for your Board. Your PAB can be a yearly requested role for a person that starts in January or February and ends in December, as you do not want to overstep your request, or for someone to overstay his/her influence. Set the request, expectations and time up front, so each requested Board member can decide if there is a fit for him/her. You likely will interact with your PAB once a quarter in a meeting in person, via the web or phone, and you may chat with them in between. Ensure your dates and times are set at the onset of the PAB requests.

Often we find ourselves needing advice and counsel, or we are just misdirected. With a Personal Advisory Board, often the distractions or misfires can be avoided, or minimally calmed and repositioned to ensure success and growth in the year ahead!