Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Embrace Your Creativity

April 1, 2019

EmbraceCreative

This month’s post is a follow-up to last month’s post on Awaken the Creative in YOU – Part One, Why? and talks about the HOW. I’ve always been a bit of an original… a little bit ‘edgy’. But I’ve been trained and conditioned to streamline my thinking so that I can better communicate and understand what others mean.

This thinking inside-the-box is very efficient and useful – a standard to which most of us conform. But there are times when we need to embrace that creativity within us – times when breaking out of that box actually helps yourself and others think, speak and do things differently, in a way which would be embraced by all. Below are some tips for Embracing the Creative in YOU – Part Two, How?

  1. Accept that there are times to think ‘inside the box’, and times to think ‘outside the box’. Manage your creative releases accordingly.
  2. If you’ve been rewarded for thinking inside the box, it’s often hard to think outside that box. Try rewarding yourself (and others) for thinking, speaking and acting differently within specific contexts.
  3. Bring people from different backgrounds together on a common project and watch the magic unfold. How are they more similar than they thought and more different than they thought? What new idea, concept, occurrence took place when you combined them?
  4. Combine two different processes or solutions in solving a complex problem.
  5. Leverage a success from one circumstance and apply it to a completely different scenario, which might actually make sense.
  6. Combine elements of ‘wrong’ solutions might bring you closer to one that’s ‘right’.
  7. Bask in the people, processes, circumstances etc., which make you feel uncomfortable. Consider them learning opportunities – a chance to stretch and grow in new ways.
  8. Recall some early memories of judgments for those who aren’t following the rules, and how others respond to them. This ‘over-socialization‘ is likely impacting your creative edge. Choose to stretch your own boundaries if it would give you an edge.
  9. Shift your own perception about the creative people who have touched you in your life. The less you judge them for being ‘different’, the more welcome you will be to the parts of you who also want to be ‘different’ – in a good way.
  10. Embrace that creative spark in yourself. It’s not just for people who ‘live on the edge’.

Have fun with it, while you’re also solving problems with it!

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Awaken the Creative in YOU – Part One, Why?

March 1, 2019

Creative-Why

After decades and decades of rewarding that left-brained, analytical thinking, the pendulum is swinging to again embrace the creative. This is part one of a two-part post which will cover the research on why the creative will benefit people, teams and companies. Next month’s follow-on post will cover how to embrace the creative.

  1. Creative leaders outperform their peers on key financial metricsCreativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  2. In one survey, creative leaders scored 16 percent higher than the average consumer-facing company on an Innovation Performance Score –  Creativity’s bottom line: How winning companies turn creativity into business value and growth, McKinsey, June 2017
  3. A McKinsey study reported that, technology upgrades would lead to a decline of 375 million employees worldwide by 2030 in positions such office support, predictable labor, and other jobs, but there will be an increase in creative jobs, teachers, care-providers and technologists. What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages, McKinsey, November 2017
  4. In another study, fifty-eight percent of survey respondents reporting high creativity had 2013 revenues exceeding their 2012 revenues by 10% or more. In contrast, only 20% of less creative companies performed similarly.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  5. Of those reporting market share leadership, creative companies outnumber their less creative counterparts by a factor of 1.5.  The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  6. In the same survey, respondents who identified their firms as ‘creative’ were three times more likely to have received national attention. The Creative Dividend: How Creativity Impacts Business Results
  7. There are four types of innovation: Incremental Innovation, Disruptive Innovation (also known as stealth innovation), Architectural Innovation, and
    Radical innovation.  Creativity helps innovators to create and sustain high risk, high reward innovations. https://info.innocentive.com/open/innovation
  8. Disruptive innovations are caused by changes in market and business phenomena, not technology advancements. It takes analysis and creativity to understand these changing business model and business phenomena. Clayton Christenson, The Innovator’s Dilemma
  9. According to neuroscientists John Kounious and Mark Beeman, insight is a product of a relaxed brain. The more we concentrate and strain for inspiration, the less likely we are to get it. It follows that the more creative and relaxed we are, the more likely we are to see an insight. The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain, by John Kounios and Mark Beeman
  10. The four stages of idea generation according to Graham Wallis include Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. Once you decide to do it and think about it, the clarity through creativity may come, as part of the idea generation process. The verification follows that step. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10400419.2015.1087277?journalCode=hcrj20

Next month’s post will brainstorm how to embrace the creative within yourself.

The Leader in YOU

February 1, 2019

intelligenceopennessindustrious

At our January 13 When She Speaks event, we talked about the importance of Communicating with, then Connecting and then Engaging people. Certainly these are all actions which leaders do well. But it had me thinking, what does it take to be a leader?

  1. There are projects where you’re not involved and your leadership is not necessary. You’re not a leader there, and shouldn’t be.
  2. There are projects where you’re not involved, but your leadership would make a huge difference. Which projects might they be? What value could you bring? Is it a priority for you to actually get involved?
  3. Some say that it’s intelligence alone which makes the leader.  But I say that if you’re intelligent, yet not open to other ideas, people and viewpoints, if you’re intelligent but not willing to work hard, you’re not a leader. You’re more a ‘Prima donna‘. I mean that in the nicest way, and I want to have compassion for people who are in this category, because I’ve been guilty of being that way before as well. It’s people who think that they are right and always right and too good, smart or superior to be open and hardworking. They are people who may not want to learn a new and better way of doing something, or people who use the data to prove that their own ideas and methodology is hands-down the best way with no exceptions. The rest of us, may not be as intelligent, but we are better leaders.
  4. It’s clear that being open and curious makes one more receptive to change and therefore better learners. But being open to all change and all learnings every time, all the time is going overboard. That’s like being a flag in the wind. It’s what my friend from Colombia calls an ‘Eggplant‘ – someone who takes on the flavor of the dish, without her/his own taste. You will need to be intelligent about what to integrate and how to implement changes. You need to work hard to make sure that the change is the right one, that the change will stick.
  5. In addition, it’s great to be hardworking, but being hard-working by itself is not sufficient, unless you also have intelligence and open. Consider the ‘Worker Bee‘. They are industrious working on someone else’s plan, without much thought, and without necessarily being open to a new way of doing something. This adds great value and has its place. There are times when what you need is mostly worker bees…
  6. Now to combine the qualities above. If you’re intelligent *and* open, but not necessarily hard-working, you’re a princess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It feels good to be smart and open and powerful and privileged. But sometimes, you also need to be hardworking.
  7. If you’re hard-working *and* intelligent, but not open, then you’re a ‘Steward‘ – someone who has learned from many past successes and works hard to maintain these successful processes and systems. The down-side is that sometimes, these best practices no longer apply. So people must be open to new ways of doing things when change happens.
  8. If you’re open *and* hardworking, but not being intelligent, then you’re a ‘Wanna-bee‘. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being that way. You’re open to others’ ideas and plans and work hard to implement them. But sometimes you have to be intelligent and courageous enough to speak up and provide feedback and input and ideas to the current plan. Leaders reach for that bar, at the appropriate time.
  9. The Leader brings all three together – the intelligence to understand opportunities and challenges, the openness to learn and integrate new information and circumstances, and the work ethic to make something happen, despite impossible odds.
  10. Nobody is always any one thing all the time. But I hope that this post helps you understand your current mindset and the mindset of those around you. So that we can reach more strategically, more consciously to be the Leader in each of us.

Hope for a Better World

January 1, 2019

HopeBetterWorld

As the last whispers of an eventful year wind down, reflect and make plans for the new year.

  1. Find commonalities with others and seek common goals.
  2. Put the needs of others in front of your own, if the greater good is served.
  3. Strive for continuous improvement, never settling for ‘good-enough’.
  4. Be grateful for what you have, rather than pining for all you wish you had.
  5. Be more curious than instructive, more open than judgmental.
  6. Forgive others for their perceived transgressions, but forgive yourself first.
  7. Embrace the uncomfortable as opportunities, the unknown as gifts.
  8. Rise above the details and focus on the intentions and the goals.
  9. Take pride in your own skills and talents, while also learning from all others.
  10. Have faith that your own hope for a better world becomes contagious.

Best wishes for a peaceful, fruitful, successful new year.

Filled with Thanks

December 1, 2018

ThanksgivingPlacesetting

In a land at the heart of a grand tech dynasty, in an industry poised for additional astronomical growth, there was a company which offered a solution destined to succeed.

And in this company, there were Leaders with the vision to create a community of high-performing, high-integrity collaborators, who pushed their own personal abilities, and therefore the technology functionality, to help ensure access by the Multitude of others across the globe.

And working with these Leaders were high-performing Teams of developers, managers, specialists and engineers, dedicated to improving the technology and proactively serving their Customers. They were hard-working and driven, yet easy-to-please, humble yet exceptional, attentive yet independent, resourceful AND collaborative.

To celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving, the growing company barely fit into its cafeteria, in eager anticipation of their annual multi-course feast, complete with linen table service and fine China.

As a backdrop to the dinner filled with chatter and laughter, there were slides of thanks for each staff member, which brought additional smiles, laughter and the occasion misty-eyed sniffling and good-natured ribbing.

To culminate this grand affair, the Leaders stood as one, and each spoke sincerely of the gratitude they had for the people, the company, and the opportunity. And the microphones were then sent around to Others, who also voiced their thanks. The feeling of thanks permeated the room, radiating warmth and good cheer.

And the future will show that the People, the Teams, the Management will work together for many Thanks-Giving celebrations to come.

Journey of the Soul

November 1, 2018

FirstGuru

Journey of the Soul, by Linda Holroyd, August 26, 2018
Written on the hardwood deck outside our bedroom in the mottled sunshine
just before sending off a child on yet another adventure
Written also for all parents with children not-like-them

Journey of the Soul

Day
Time
Sunlight
Breeze
Wheezy

Warm
Filled
Glowing
Marvelous
Wheezy

Peace
Laughter
Smiles
Fullness
Wheezy

Full Circle
Perfect Being
Calm and Powerful
Wheezy

Life from my Loins
Power to my Strength
Embodiment of All that’s Glorious to me
Wheezy

From Radiant Magnificence
to Humble Powerlessness
from Obstinate Glory
to Overflowing Gratitude
Wheezy

The World sits beneath YOU
the Stars above applaud YOU
the Waves around you bask in your LIGHT
Wheezy

The path opens for you
your carriage approaches for you
your entourage awaits you
Wheezy

So prepare for your journey
the trail of Enlightenment
the Majesty of the Moment
the Balance between the Hope and the Fear
Wheezy

Go blindingly, trustingly, courageously forward
as is your way
Immersed in joyous abandonment
Daring to Laugh at the Impossible
Trusting in the Wisdom of Powers Bigger than even Thee
Wheezy

For the People around You
so need
your power
your strength
your vision
your purity
Wheezy

And I in the shadows
from the security of my mansion
Cheer louder than ALL combined
when you are revealed in full Magnificence
for ALL you Represent
for all that you SERVE
for the HOPE that’s entrusted to You
my Wheezy

Mentorship Best Practices

October 1, 2018

Mentorship

Few would argue that Mentorship is a key to personal and professional success. I hope that the mentorship best-practice thoughts below are helpful to you, whether you’re a motivated, hard-working, coachable, flexible and capable potential mentee or a seasoned, accomplished, committed mentor, ready to give-back, or a connecting and passionate executive implementing a program for your company.

  1. Mentorship should be integrated into the ongoing culture, not just inserted as an afterthought. From the top-down, from the bottom-up, all must think, speak and act in ways which would support the success of a mentorship program.
    • This means providing the time and resources to ensure the ongoing success of the program.
    • This means commitment from the top in thoughts, words and actions, and follow-up from all ranks to ensure exceptional implementation on an ongoing basis.
  2. Let the mentees drive the cause and the conversation, and let the mentors guide the conversation and learnings, within a specific timeframe.
    • Problems occur when mentees aren’t the initiators or when mentors aren’t the right guides.
  3. Agree on specific, measurable goals, objectives and timelines.
    • Do it for the right reasons, the intangible results, but report on the measured results to build momentum, credibility and impact.
  4. Report on the specific, measurable impact of the program.
    • Learn from what went well and what didn’t go so well and respond accordingly.
  5. Focus on building specific and transferable soft skills, but apply the learning to a specific project.
    • Common leadership soft skills include: communication (for clarity, succinctness, written, assertiveness), confidence, decisiveness, negotiation, delegation, empathy and humor, embracing change.
    • It’s best to learn any of these transferable leadership skills in the context of specific work projects as it would have clear impact today’s project, and develop transferable skills for tomorrow’s project.
  6. Adopt mentorship projects in alignment with larger team, product and corporate goals.
    • In fact, mentorship programs can actually be instrumental in the success of the larger product, team and corporate initiatives!
  7. Optimize the matching of mentors and mentees.
    • Sample guidelines include connecting people:
      • within or outside the company, but not part of the local team,
      • with similar overarching values,
      • with similar interests
      •  with similar experiences
      • with different perspectives
  8. Have a back-up plan when things don’t go as expected.
    • Commit to showing up for meetings, but have a plan when life happens.
    • Be prepared to shift mentors or mentees into other relationships if necessary.
    • Have a program director to act as a resource when mentors or mentees need additional information, resources or support.
  9. Be inclusive. Engagement a large community of dedicated mentors and mentees. With that said, don’t force someone to engage if they aren’t committed participants, if it’s not the right time for her/him to get engaged.
    • It’s easy to engage those who raise their hand eagerly and more challenging to approach the shy, reserved, quiet others who would also greatly benefit – as a mentee or a mentor.
  10. Celebrate your progress.
    • Change doesn’t happen overnight. Progress is what should be celebrated. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Best of luck with your mentorship program. Showing up and speaking and thinking about implementing one will put you ahead of most people!

Ode to a Hat

September 1, 2018

The summer, the year, she has passed so quickly, so eventfully, with the highest of thrills, the darkest tragedies of loss; the indulgent and sinful decadence of time well spent, laughter well expressed, and the regret of time not taken for and with others.

So I find myself reflecting on the transiency of time, the joy of hope, the importance of faith.

So this month, as we enter into a new school year, and also come upon the anniversary of a fire which touched my family deeply, I will honor a poem written by my brother-in-law, who so eloquently expressed his thoughts following that fire last year. I hope that it touches you deeply as well.

CalicoHat

Ode to a Hat 

 It was down in the hold of the ship: 

 I crocheted It in the half light of crew arguments and 

the stomach-bending pitch of the vessel,

While far away, my mother wondered if I still Loved her. 

 It was colored the give and take of Calico–

and I realize now I must have borrowed the yarn 

 (after all, I didn’t board with any). 

 And its Presence insulated me from where I was, 

 And from who I have become. 

Afterwards, I did mail it to her…my Mother. 

 Then, much later, it appeared in photographs – 

in scenes of her 

studying Chinese, playing piano or some such thing — 

in those cold Northern California days, bathed in Hope.

 There was always that special Covering, 

an Object Captured, yet rarely mentioned… 

 Well… then… “The FIRE”: 

The FIRE, She took the HAT. 

 The FIRE took almost everything–even the piano I learned on. 

 Plus… …that silly bit of spindly, mottled poly-thread covering which 

Most likely had believed Itself safe. 

 Safe in a box where it had been deliberately placed so as not to be Worn to Death. 

 Safe where it might continue–as all Love Hopes to. 

 Safe, where, when the Flames finally found it, 

 It told them it had already served a Greater Purpose. 

 Greater than all its Adversaries possessed.

 And it spoke the Truth to that Flame:

 “I’ve mattered more in this world than you could ever possibly Hope to. 

 I have done my Work. 

 Now take me Home.” 

 – Ladd Holroyd

Choose Happiness

August 1, 2018

HappyPeopleHappiness is a choice, a frame of mind largely independent of circumstances. You can find the happiest of people in the humblest of circumstances and the sourest of people who could not be more pampered.

And nobody would contest that happiness is tightly correlated to success socially and professionally, in the long term and for the short term.

Below are a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned from happy people.

  1. Believe that happiness is a choice and choose to make it happen. Here’s a recipe below.
    1. First, choose to be happy. Feel deserving of happiness – no matter what you did in the past, where you think you fall short today.
    2. Next, know what it takes realistically to make youreslf happy. What’s the (smallest) delta between what you have/do/want now and where you’d like to be?
    3. After that, confirm that it’s a practical and doable objective.
    4. Then create an incremental plan to get from here to there.
    5. From there, consistently believe that your choices can bring you the happiness you’re seeking.
    6. Continue to proactively make those choices even when the road isn’t easy.
    7. Include others in your journey.
    8. Celebrate along the way.
  2. Know yourself well and accept who you are, while also stretching the envelope for who you can become – but only if it helps you become happier and more fulfilled.
  3. Be grateful for all you have, rather than focusing on what you wish you had. People could waste their lives waiting for something to happen…
  4. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. Nobody’s perfect, and comparing yourself to others more perfect than you can easily lead to unhappy and unwelcome thoughts.
  5. Bring positive energy to people and tasks around you – all the time, every time, especially when it’s really challenging to do so. But be authentic about it – don’t force it.  As a corollary, let go of people and things that bring you down. Many of us are burdened by tasks and obligations which bring work without joy and appreciation, without delivering intended results.
  6. Be purposeful in what you do, and align it with what you’d like to accomplish.
  7. Be resilient. Nobody succeeds and wins all the time, every time. Use every failure as a stepping stone to success. Embrace failure as a badge of courage.
  8. Be compassionate to those who are not like you, and those who don’t agree with you. Be curious about how they are different than you and in what ways their viewpoints are different than your own.
  9. Forgive yourself for past perceived infractions. Forgive others for same.
  10. Be curious about what you don’t know, about how things work, how things will change. Complacency in what you do, overconfidence in everything you know will not lead to a happiness outcome.

As a final thought, be self-aware enough to understand and implement the thoughts above. Embrace the opportunity to read and process new information and new people, especially when it makes you uncomfortable. For embracing change is a road to happiness.

Best of luck in your quest for happiness.

Don’t wish for an ocean, for an ocean is too large. Do wish for the right droplet of rainwater and appreciate the life it brings to you.

Leadership Lessons from Dr. Seuss

July 1, 2018

DrSeussQuote

When I was in college back in the day, I worked three different jobs, each of which provided me with the foundation of knowledge and experience I use every day.

Firstly I worked in an office, learning technologies and tools, efficiencies and protocols, as well as people and communications skills. Secondly, I took notes for a wide range of classes, and also summarized and typed notes for other note-takers. Lastly, I taught at a pre-school. There is no better leadership experience than doing that, and no better opportunity to teach others how to think and lead.

I integrated the learnings and teachings of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Mar 02, 1904 – Sep 24, 1991), commonly known as Dr. Seuss, in my day-to-day life, and shared it with my pre-schoolers back then, and with my colleague, friends, clients and partners today, for they are still relevant.

1. Be Fully YOU

  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” From Happy Birthday to You!
  • “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” from the The Lorax.
  • “You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “Only you can control your future.”

2. Seize the Day

  • “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • “Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
  • “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
  • “Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.”
  • “I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” from the Cat in the Hat

3. Exude Confidence

  • “Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

4. Choose to Always Learn and Grow

  • “It is better to know how to learn than to know.”
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”
  • “Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!”

5. Be Clear and Direct in Your Communications

  • “Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  • “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant is faithful, one hundred percent.” from Horton Hears a Who.

6. Think Outside the Box

  • “He should not be here, ” said the fish in the pot. ” he should not be here when your mother is not.” from the Cat in the Hat
  • “Think and wonder, wonder and think.”
  • “Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?”
  • “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
  • “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.”
  • “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

6. You May Only Be ONE Person, But You Are an Important Person

  • “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
  • “Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small.” from Horton Hears A Who!

7. Treat Everyone as Someone Important

  • “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.” from Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz.
  • “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” from Horton Hears A Who!

6. Play the Game of Life

  • “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.” from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • “We must become invisible, travel silently, for there are forces that would seek to destroy us.” from Horton Hears A Who!

7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

  • “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

8. Embrace a Positive Mindset

  • “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
  • “Fun is good.”
  • “You oughta be thankful a whole heaping lot for the people and places you’re lucky you’re not.”
  • “You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant?”

9. Live a Life with No Regrets

  • “Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
  • “Life’s too short to wake up with regrets.”

10. Be Good to Everyone You Touch

  • Love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t.

Thank you Dr. Seuss, for touching me so deeply, through and through. May your words of wisdom and way of being continue to bring ripples of love and happiness, may this wish come true.