Being a Leader is Just Like Riding a Bike

Last week I told you about my amazing opportunity to work with some other growing entrepreneurs. I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Sam Schulte… founder and owner of Tree Bicycle Company. If you’re into BMX, he’s the man to support.

He is a shy, unassuming leader that has pretty audacious goals when it comes to BMX biking and leadership. Pretty damn impressive with a great, understated sense of humor (http://www.treebicycleco.com/samschulte/).

Sam was in Austin last week and after some business chat, we wandered over to this exclusive BMX park… a park I was told that no one, unless you’re the real deal, gets to explore. I earned some serious “mom points” by taking my boys and my husband to watch.

Sam and Linda

Some might describe Sam as quiet, maybe even an “introvert.” As someone who is definitely not described as such, I find myself drawn to his style of leadership. I stand to learn a lot from him.

I believe Sam’s leadership style stems from this community of riders… thoughtful, curious, risk-taking, and challenging. I watched these riders take the time to visualize the course, glide through the up’s and down’s, support each other with a fall and cheer with the accomplishment. Check it out!

Thanks for the lesson in leadership Sam.

Where do you draw your leadership inspiration?  Let me know in the comment section.

Also… this week I was lucky enough to get to write for Blogher.  Check out my post, 4 Steps to Identifying Your True Calling, here if you haven’t already!  Thanks for reading!


The White Cloud Effect

I had an amazing opportunity to go to California this week to work with a group of entrepreneurs. Only, this time, the coaching was for me, the entrepreneur.

It’s the ole case of “the cobbler has no shoes.” Well, I’m taking the time and working on my business. It’s exciting, exhilarating, overwhelming and did I say, exciting?! It is amazing to be building my business while I work as an executive coach with others on how to manage their leadership through growth. It’s provided me some incredible insight and learning.

Dark Cloud

On the plane ride out there, I was gazing out the window as we were heading toward our descent. I’ve always loved observing the clouds. It’s otherworldly. Peaceful. But, there it was. In the midst of all these pretty, airy, white clouds, there was a streak of a very dark cloud. The darkest cloud I’ve ever seen (my picture doesn’t do it justice). It was the only one.

What makes a cloud so incredibly dark, almost black? Yes, we know that it means that it might produce rain, but why is it dark? It has everything to do with how deep and densely packed the water particles are. In general, the color of a cloud depends chiefly on the cloud’s relationship to the sunlight.

Wow… that’s deep. The color of a cloud depends chiefly on the cloud’s relationship to the sunlight. Does that apply to humans as well?

As I walked into the room the next day, I found myself in a room of white clouds. “Hi! How are you?!” “How have you been?” “How is business?” and there it was, plopped down in the middle of the room. Heavy, weighted, energy draining and about to release some precipitation from the eyes. It was the dark cloud.

This woman was a mess and I wondered, what would happen if she released this negative energy. Would she become a white cloud? What could get her there?

As humans, when we see the dark cloud, our human nature provokes us to reject, walk away, maybe even judge, “What’s her deal?”

What I observed over the two days is what I would challenge all of us white cloud leaders to do. Resist the urge to walk away. Step up as a leader, reach out, listen, empathize. Build a relationship to sunlight. Allow the space for the release.

Next time you see the dark cloud, what choice will you make?  Tell me what you do when you encounter a dark cloud in the comments section below, and be sure to link me to your webpage/blog/facebook/twitter/etc!

 

 


Going Blonde

All week, I have gone blonde. For those of you who don’t know me, you may be shocked to discover that the photo to the right does not depict my real hair color. In fact, below is what my current hair color is and used to be naturally.

Linda

I’m a natural brunette. I like it. I like the richness, the depth, and when I’m brunette (even with artificial help), it feels more authentic to who I am.

So, maybe that’s why it’s felt so wrong to go blonde all week. No, it wasn’t a wig or a temporary weave. I didn’t spritz lemon juice (you know you did it in the 80s!). I drank Blonde. The new Starbucks roast profile, “Blonde.” BLONDE??!?!

Starbucks Blonde

 BUT STARBUCKS IS A BRUNETTE LIKE ME!!! What is happening in the world?!? Come on Starbucks! First you introduced milk that wasn’t Whole Fat. Then you welcomed Frozen Drinks. I could barely accept the Instant Coffee. But, now you’re really messing with me. Blonde?!?

My husband likes it. “The ‘mouth feel’ is lighter and fresher (for all your coffee aficionados that are wondering). I don’t know. It looks like cinnamon roast and although I know intimately the painstaking extent Starbucks goes to in order to maintain coffee quality for each bean, it’s hard for me. Is it authentic Starbucks? Can Starbucks keep innovating with their core product and keep me believin’? (Insert Steve Perry background music here… Don’t Stop Believen’ Hold on to that Feeeliii –en)

It’s an interesting concept for any of us growing a business. How do we honor and preserve our core and remain authentic while trying to reach new markets or clients with new ideas? For Starbucks I believe thatt it has everything to do with the over 150,000 “partners” that work there everyday. It’s their talent. They hire and nurture the talent that allows them to do this very carefully and thoughtfully.

Partners take the core seriously and work to preserve it’s authenticity. There are those who work hard not only to nurture and maintain the quality of the bean itself, but all the partners in the stores that create the conversation around it the new idea. It’s their relationships that allow them to encourage customers to try and keep believin’. Come on, just try it.

While I’m certain I will go back and drink the darker roast, I applaud Starbucks for challenging itself and continuing to innovate.  Maybe there’s a barista out there or someone from the “coffee authority” that could convince me otherwise?

Just please bring back Sulawesi. Then, you’ll have me for life!

How do you grow and remain authentic?


Compelling Reason to Change

Welcome back to the real world after the holidays. Still working on your goals?

Recently I talked about the power of consistency and it’s impact on reaching your goals.

There is also power in writing a goal that is “SMART”… Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. That is critical to achievement.

The other reason I mentioned for keeping up goals or resolutions is a compelling reason to change. As humans, it’s pretty simple. We are motivated by pain or pleasure and we need to think about what the gain will be if we accomplish our goal.

Have you also invested the time to write down the costs if you don’t achieve the goal and benefits when you do? What’s it worth to you? It’s this type of visualization that is often missed. If you can’t truly think through the value of achieving the goal and really see it, will you actually achieve it? You don’t have to be Einstein to know that “What you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.”

Psychologists speak frequently about the power of visualization when it comes to exercise, weight loss, etc. In fact, one interesting study discussed in Psychology Today on everyday people by Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. Dr. Yue reported that there was a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. Interestingly, the group who didn’t and only conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%)!

A SMART goal might look something like this…  I will improve my engagement and relationships by scheduling lunch twice a month off-site with a direct report and focusing on purely on connecting and how we can support one another.

Next step… why? Why not? Visualize it. Imagine what things will look like when you achieve your goal. Engage all of the senses. What are you seeing? Hearing? Feeling? For the goal above, your visualization might sound something like…

By spending more time together, my direct reports will get to know me as a person, not just “the boss.” The air of tension and straightening of backs when I enter the room will go away and instead, people will be relaxed and in the rhythm of their work. I will start to understand what motivates each person, what is important to them inside and outside of work. With a stronger relationship, there will be more effort towards making each other successful and achieving the goals. I will see higher engagement and the company will profit from this. And ultimately, I won’t be as stressed and feel confident that we’re all on this team together.

Review your goals daily, if not weekly as that helps with consistency. PLUS review your compelling reason… read your visualization along with your goal. How has visualization helped you? Let us know.