Top Leadership Advice for October: STAY out of ROOM 237!

Audience sitting in multiplex movie theater, watching horror movie, screaming.

In 1980, the most frightening movie EVER came out The Shining. I mean, scare the pants off of you, don’t make me look, I can’t believe this is happening, I need my Mommy type of stuff.

Granted, I’m not one for scary movies. I like to keep it pretty light. But, holy cow, this was some scary stuff. It’s hard for me to watch even the movie today.

You may recall the basic plot set-up of “it all seemed normal, UNTIL . . . “In The Shining, this nice threesome of a family, agree to what seemed like a reasonable family adventure . . . Be the caretakers of a secluded mountain lodge over the winter months.

But where did it all go wrong . . . Cabin fever? The psychic kid? Looming ghosts?

Fear baby. Fear. Little by little the fear took over . . . Don’t go in room 237. It’s room 237 that’s going to get you. Dead people are in room 237. So what did they do? Go into room 237. Come on people!

We all have a room 237. Welcome. You’ve checked into your private room of scariness that you have custom decorated with story after story of personal untruths. Scary untruths. FEARS that will make you go mental . . . “If I do this, I will fail.”

“That person doesn’t like me. I’ll never succeed under her.”

“When I stand in front and speak to the company, they are all wondering if I have what it takes.”

When you start to feel anxious, scared, fearful ask yourself:

Am I having a room 237 moment? Is this true?

How does it benefit me to believe this is true?

What great things could happen if I don’t believe it?

Don’t just turn the doorknob and enter into Room 237. Consider it unavailable at this time for reservations. Challenge the fear and make a new reservation.

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First Day Jitters

croppedlunchbox

So do you remember back to the first day of school? I remember the shopping for the first-day outfit. I remember wishing I could get the big-daddy Crayola pack, but spent time nonetheless, enjoying the aromatherapy of the 24 I got. And, of course, the biggest deal for me? Picking out that lunch box. That was a big, MAJOR, deal. I mean, after all this was an extension of my brand… who I was and what I stood for… Big decisions when you’re a kid.

I loved the beginning of school. Still do. For me, September always represents the BEGINNING of a new year, not January. It was exciting. There were old friends to be seen, familiar hallways, but mostly a chance to learn something new, be one step closer to the adult I was DESPERATE to become.

“First days” happen all the time for us as leaders whether we are starting a new position ourselves or having a new person join our team. My observation is that too many people skirt past the first day(s), go straight from offer acceptance to “I must” or “she must” be in role, up and running and performing.

Creating the first-day experience and “onboarding” for yourself or a new employee is CRITICAL. Your new hire may have said yes, but in reality she or he is spending the first days validating that taking the new role was the right decision. Wouldn’t you want them to move to a resounding HELL YES! as quickly as possible?

Be thoughtful in how you approach a new position or guide others. Think through:

  • What do I need to know about this culture to be successful? Who can guide me on that?
  • What are the key relationships that I need to build?
  • What outcomes is my boss looking for in the first 30, 60, 90 days?
  • Where are some quick wins I can make early on?

Enjoy those first and early days!


Let them be FREE! So you can be…

blogphotojuly

In our month of independence (at least in the US), I say let them be free! The people you lead that is.

As I mentioned last month, my kids were heading off to camp for three weeks. What did they enjoy the most? Was it the killer canoe trip? The awesome zip line? The campfire tradition? Sure, that was all cool, but when I ask them what they enjoy the most, they say it’s the freedom. “I get to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s awesome.”

Think about it. As a kid, you spend the majority of your day being told what you’ll do and when you’ll do it, either by parents or teachers.

So for three whole weeks, this group of boys live in a world of personal choice. After breakfast at the back cabin, they meet up at the flagpole where each child chooses what will happen that day. Counselors sound off one by one with offerings:

“I want to go swimming today. Who wants to join me?”

“I thought I’d do a canoe trip down in Kentucky? First 12 interested, grab a life jacket.”

The offerings go forward one by one until every child has selected what HE wants to do that day. What he has the energy for, or what he has the interest in, or what HE wants to do.

Camp is not without chores or rules, but the activities are positioned as the things we need to do.  They ensure that everyone has “the most fun and excitement the summer can offer” (per the camp’s core purpose). So if we’re all into making that purpose happen, we’re willing to do our part like… make our bunks, play nice with others, be safe (and maybe write your mother).

What might seem to the outside observer as a “Lord of the Flies” environment, is a well-orchestrated lesson in how to lead others.

We didn’t like being told what to do as kids, and we certainly don’t like it as adults. As a leader:

  • Hire people who are excited about your core purpose.
  • Hire individuals for their strengths and passion for the role you have and then invite them to the flagpole over and over again.
  • Know that everyone will pitch in and do the not so fun work when necessary.
  • Enjoy your new freedom of time you would have spent otherwise controlling everyone’s time and choices!

Go one, let ‘em loose. It is not as scary as you think.


It’s more than the Ping Pong Table…

ping pong

Last month, we talked about breathing. Finding the time to rest, rejuvenate.

If you’ve spent any time with me, you know that I talk about being intentional a lot. Maybe too much? But, honestly, the more you progress in your career and the more complicated life gets, the more you HAVE TO BE INTENTIONAL. Be intentional in making the things that are important to you happen — really happen.

So perhaps you set an intent last month to breathe more. I hope you did.

I have another challenge for you. You have “work hard” down. What about “play hard?”

I’m not talking about stopping by the company ping-pong table. It’s more than that. I’m talking about play. True child-like, let my guard down, be silly, look ridiculous play. For some, that’s improv, for some a tickle fight with your kids, for others trying a new recipe. Play can take many forms.

If you’re a fan of Brene Brown, you may have read her writing around play. She referred to Researcher Stuart Brown, MD… a play researcher. (Hello!? That job title almost sounds better than director of ice cream, which yes, did exist when I was at Starbucks).

He describes play as time spent without purpose. Brene wrote: “To me this sounds like the definition of an anxiety attack. I feel behind if I’m not using every last moment to be productive, whether that means working, cleaning the house or taking my son to baseball practice.” Can you relate?

“But I can’t ignore what the research (mine and others’) tells us — that play, doing things just because they’re fun and not because they’ll help achieve a goal, is vital to human development.” She went on to tell us that Brown believes that play is at the core of creativity and innovation. Play is anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing where ideas are born.

What’s interesting is how many leaders I know who have a deep desire to be highly creative and innovative, yet think working harder is the key to making it attainable.

My kids have been out of school for three weeks, and they are about to hit camp. Three whole weeks of PLAY. They are masters of play. Wish I were going.

Instead, I have been sneaking in moments of play. I’ve set the materials out, and when I can, I take a moment to play. Play for me is art. I’m not looking to be Picasso. I’m not looking for a gallery showing. I have no purpose but to feel the way I do when I create. And to add to the challenge, I put it up on the wall even when it’s not “perfect” or “gallery ready.” Every day I walk by those reminders that play is important. It’s necessary. And I do have the time.

When is the last time you played?


How to Sleep Your Way to the Top and Other Useful Tips

Empty bed.

 

I recently read the book THRIVE by Arianna Huffington where her tag is that she has finally learned how to sleep her way to the top. Very clever Arianna. Clever indeed. It’s focus is on a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

I had heard about her book a while ago when she was interviewed in a mock store at the Starbucks support center, sipping Oprah Chai with Oprah (cue MASSIVE product placement violation). I thought the talk was interesting, but not inspired enough to read the book.

However, there are moments in time when I become hyper aware of the messages that are being sent my way. Have you ever experienced that? You hear something once and then it shows up again and again and again? I call it putting on my “dog ears” and paying attention.

I was on a flight this spring after an intense engagement with a client. I’d want to relax with a movie. I was exhausted. I was nostalgic for a film I’d seen before, but had forgotten, “Surviving Picasso” with Anthony Hopkins. I am intrigued by his passion and his never-ending desire to remain young and vibrant, to thrive all the way through the end of his life. Then I watched the credits. It was based off the biography of Picasso by ARIANNA HUFFINGTON. Who knew?

And then there were three … I’ve been surrounded by people that simply can’t breath right now. A lot of us 40-something, overwhelmed with life, work and expectations of “success.” Some we created and some imposed. Myself included. To which someone asked me… “have you read THRIVE?”

Okay. I get it. Read the book. And so I did.

It wasn’t new information per se. Eat Right. Sleep More. Get rid of stinkin’ thinkin’. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t we change and slow down?

As humans were not that complicated, motivated by either pleasure or pain. Anything in between can equate inaction.

For Arianna it was pure exhaustion resulting in her collapsing on her desk breaking a cheekbone. She stopped to research what it meant to slow down. In her book, there’s a lot of data to prove the “duh”… why we should slow down:

  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that from 1983 to 2009, there was between a 10 and 30 percent increase in stress levels across all demographic categories.
  • Studies show that U.S. employers spend 200 to 300 percent more on the indirect costs of health care, in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and lower productivity, than they do on actual health care payments.
  • A study published in Science even calculated that for the sleep deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for their daily happiness than a $60,000 raise.
  • One study found that meditation can actually increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain and slow the thinning that occurs there as we age… what else do you need to know to know that it’s worth it?

For you, what will it be? A broken bone? A relationship lost? Pure overwhelm? Or can you just stop right now and ask yourself… am I breathing or running without breath?

I firmly believe that the teacher presents herself when the student is ready to learn. With all the over stimulus in life right now, I am ready to learn. Are you?

Until you read the book, I’ll offer some tips on how to start creating clarity, focus and breath:

 

CHOOSE the RIGHT WORK:   WHERE are you spending your time?

  • Carve out an hour for this Friday afternoon. Start with the end in mind. What did I say success was going to look like at the end of this year? (And if you haven’t, start there).
  • Write a comprehensive list of all the things you are working on right now.
  • Which work should you continue doing because it is critical for you achieving your Vision? Of that work, what can you delegate?
  • Which work should you delay or stop doing all together? Because if you really think about it, it doesn’t support your measurement of success.
  • Next Friday? Check in again…

 

FIND time to BREATH:

Here are some great tips from Austin’s Mindfulness Expert, Paige Davis:

  1. Mindfulness Minutes (1 minute exercises you can do anywhere)  
  2. App Recommendations
  3. 5 Mini Meditations You Can Do Anywhere

You can also visit her site Soul Sparks for a ton of inspiration and insight.

Stay light with tips, tools and insights + receive a FREE guided body awareness meditation by signing up for her newsletter.

 

And finally… HIT the PILLOW:

Sleep your way to the top by clocking in 7-8 hours a night. Arianna joins many other thought leaders in the plea for recognizing sleep as a critical factor in both our well -being and performance. Julia Kirby, an editor at the Harvard Business Review wrote a great blog, “Change the World and Get to Bed by 10:00,” where a chart likens getting drunk to not sleeping enough, both having roughly the same impact on performance.

 

So where can you start? For me… it’s wine on the weekends, sleep during the week, meditating daily, and challenging where I’m spending my time. Next time, I’ll let you know how it’s working!

 

 

 

 


How to Become World’s Best Leader in 1000 Steps or Less

I’ve cracked the code. I know there are a ton of experts out there who think they have the perfect program or book to make you the ultimate leader. You know, the 3-steps to becoming a super hero in your industry?

Well, I’ve cracked the code. It’s not a book. It’s not a new method, process, tool or framework. Are you ready to learn the secret? The magic? The silver bullet?

Before I reveal the secret, let me back up here a minute and give you some background.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that my “eat only beige, drink only red diet” from the fall had to come to a sad end. It was the right decision and a good one. With that, I knew I also needed to change my habit of not taxing my poor body with additional movement (translate: exercise). So, this year, I have slowly shifted my diet and have begun a regular routine of exercise.

You know when you start eating better and exercising, you find yourself talking to others about what they are doing to look and feel so great? I was on a mission and went into sleuth mode. I asked questions. Some were on special diets, some crazy boot camp routines, and then there’s my friend Dena, who basically just eats right and exercises. Nah, too boring. That can’t work, can it?

“Try Zumba. I really like it,” she told me. Was this it? The secret bullet to exercising without really feeling like it?

I’ve never liked group exercise. Probably due to some traumatic outfit mal-function in the 80s involving a headband and a leg warmer.

However, the gym I joined had a Zumba class. I thought, well, Dena is right about most things when it comes to health. She’s reasonable and fun. She wouldn’t steer me wrong.

And so it happened.

NO, I didn’t go and fall madly, deeply in love. What happened is that I completely and utterly got my ass kicked (pardon my language, but that’s really what happened). In sooooo many ways.

When class began I thought, oh, Latin inspired music mixed with Ice, Ice, Baby. I can do this. My A-type took a grip.  Let me take you through my internal dialogue:

Oh, I see, it’s like dance with peppy, re-mixed Latin songs. I can so do this!

I get to swirl my hands like the girls swirling their skirts on the stage at Fiesta de Santa Fe when I was a kid. I can so do this!

Wait, I don’t follow that. Say what? Wait, slow down. Holy cow, I just got the last step, now you want me to what?

I don’t know if my hips move that way normally. Okay, I’ll try.

Focus. Focus. Focus. You can do it. You can do it. You will OWN this.

Be resilient. Be the Zumba. Love the Zumba. This is good for you. 

Hate the Zumba. Not loving the Zumba. Feeling awkward doing the Zumba.

Hey, look at that guy. He has ZERO self-awareness, following 80% of the moves, and he’s LOVING it… almost in an Elaine from Seinfeld dance trance. Did he just yelp? Was that a “woo, hoo?” I’m sort of impressed. Or am I just jealous?

Yeah, well he may be having fun, but I’m gonna get this RIGHT.

Seriously? Only 20 minutes have gone by? I feel like I’m in a war zone here.

S-o-m-e-o-n-e    h-e-l-p   m-e………..

I think you get the picture. It was a total crash course: 1000 steps of practicing all the strengths that the greatest leaders exercise:

  • Audacity
  • Resiliency
  • Focus

While being challenged by the Blind Spots that can often derail us:

  • Comparing ourselves to others
  • Negative self-talk
  • A-Type drive for perfection and expecting to get it right the first time!

I began to wonder if Zumba is just an intense hour demonstrating what my clients experience throughout the growth of their businesses. I know it is. I’ve seen them sweat.

That Zumba leader plays the role I do with my clients… re-enforcing the strengths, uncovering the blind spots, and cheering them along the whole way.

As a people strategist, I’m right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, with a towel, some water, and encouragement. Until the 1000th step when I say, I think you’ve got this. This is doable and you will succeed.

I’m not your silver bullet, but I’ll help you crack your code to leading responsibly. It takes some healthy eating and some exercise. And it is completely achievable. I know it from my results.

Want your own people strategist to help you successfully Zumba through growth? Email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com

BTW… The sad truth… I believe I was in the seniors’ class. The happy truth, there were some seriously badass seniors schooling me in Zumba. Love that.


Beware… Le Saboteur!

Saboteur

Your company may be getting sabotaged… Think of it this way: your company is like a house. Whether big or small, it’s your dream house. You know it will be amazing and you believe, believe so strongly with all the passion in the world, that this will be something great. Whether it’s a service or a product, the world will benefit greatly and you can’t wait to get it built, maybe even add-on or sell it one day to the highest bidder.

You set out to build the house and slowly start to bring others along, but unknowingly you may be sabotaging the dream. Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t feel like you’re spending the right time in the right place and the people you’ve hired? They’re not happy either. You feel more pressure than ever because you’ve already told the world that this amazing house is being built. In fact, you’ve been working on it for five years and from the outside, everything looks perfect.

There are cracks in the foundation.

You may start to realize you need to make a change and fix what’s being built on the inside, but the question is… what do I need to do and is it too late? And to whom can I possibly confess this?

The greatest saboteur is an undefined culture.

Let’s stop there for a second… culture. Who has time for that? Isn’t that an HR program or something? Or as I heard one executive recently say, “that’s just a buzz word that companies are saying they are working on to gain attention from the street.”

Call it culture, call it whatever you like, but would you be interested in having

  • Revenues increase 4 times faster
  • Job creation rates grow 7 times higher
  • Stock prices increase12 times faster
  • Profits climb 750% higher
  • Net income grow 700%
  • Customer satisfaction-Double

Source: Professor John Kotter, Harvard and Coauther James Heskett

There are four cornerstones to every company that form the cultural blueprint… they will always be there, whether you define them or not.

So the question is… do you want to leave these critical pieces, the pieces which determine whether you are structurally sound and sustainable, up to happenchance?

THE FOUR CORNERSTONES:

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 10.15.01 AM

VISION:  This is your aspirational statement that informs everyone where you are dreaming and daring to go… people want to get behind something bigger than them. A paycheck is only a piece behind why people join and stay with companies.

VALUES:  This is all about behaviors. What do you value most and what will help you achieve the vision? It’s it fortitude? Integrity? Optimism? It starts with the leader. You must define your values, so that you can hire people aligned with them and fire them when they aren’t. It’s that simple.

YOU:  Hey, it’s your dream. You were the one audacious to dream this pig could fly! It’s of utmost importance that you lead with a great deal of self-awareness… where do you play best? Where are your core strengths and what skills do you need to compliment you? Where do you have blind spots or behaviors that may be limiting your ability to lead and inspire others towards the vision.

YOUR PEOPLE:  It’s critical to really determine, based on you, the vision, values and purpose… who do you need and want to join you in building your dream?  Don’t take this lightly… identify the skills, ask questions to determine values fit and organize your company so that you can be most productive.

At the center of it all? Your purpose.. Your “WHY”… if you haven’t seen this video already by Simon Sinek, I highly encourage you to watch it: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

At their annual meeting this week, Starbucks executives discussed the company’s $1.4 billion profit for the fiscal year ending last September. When I started with them in 1997, there were over 1400 stores and over 25,000 employees… now there are over 20,000 stores and over 200,000 employees. My last role there was to lead a team to figure out how to hire 8 people an hour and get them to stick. I can tell you it wasn’t because they all knew how to make coffee or foam milk. But, they all resonate with the vision, they live the values, they believe in the why, they are suited for the jobs and the leaders get out of their way. It’s not the buzz of caffeine. It’s the buzz of culture.

Oh, and that company with the executive who thought culture is a “buzz word”… they just reported a 96% drop in profits. Think I’d sign up for the buzz over the saboteur…

Need that confidante to help you with one of your cornerstones or know someone that does? Please email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com for a free consultation.