Sharing Your Story – Amplify Africa

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My trip to South Africa this year was phenomenal. It is hard to put the experience into words; family and friends have seen my non-stop posts online. But I want to try and at least paint the picture of my time there for our Girlmade family. Buckle in, this might be a long read.

As a partner with Amplify Journey I attended the 3rd annual Amplify Africa women’s summit in October. I was there to help women play big all the while learning, connecting and growing. I had the amazing privilege of emceeing the event and throughout it I knew I wasn’t going to leave the same. The theme this year was “Share your story”. It was such an amazing space for women to share of themselves, their ideas on how to improve our businesses and organizations – sharpening one another’s skills through engaged dialogue. Best of all moms got to bring their daughters who watched them be lady bosses in action! I later had the chance to work with these girls on a mini impact project that we presented to everyone.

I was grateful to be included in small but significant ways in the South African culture during my emceeing duties: I wore a beautiful blue doekie throughout the summit. For those who aren’t familiar, a doekie is a traditional head wrap that is common not only in South Africa but on the continent as well. A symbolic apparel that is both timeless and is a symbol of power. Something I know African American women can relate to, as it’s part of their cultural heritage here too. It was an honor.

Our team Amplify Africa stayed at the Sibani Lodge during the summit. A beautiful 2000-hectare game farm where the animals roam freely. We certainly enjoyed the tent camping and a powerful mastermind session facilitated by Miss South Africa 1992, Amy Kleinhans – Curd, an incredible entrepreneur whose wine is amazing.

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I met a number of other incredible women in South Africa. Chef Margot Janse who heads the Isabelo project that aims to nourish the stomachs, hearts and minds of children in the country. Beatrice Deipierre, Executive director of Kidzpositive, an income generation project that creates means for mothers and caregivers of children affected by HIV/AIDS to make a living. We consulted, trained and supported Beatrice and the team of female artisans. I was fortunate to meet, mentor and learn from the GM of Ritsako Game lodge, a female founded game reserve, not too far from the capital city, Tshwane. She’s working on a foundation that will help girls stay in school, read and learn to protect themselves from rape.

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In all these incredible spaces of growth, some fun was definitely had in between. Food is a big part of any culture, so taking part in a food jam (cooking session) allowed me to learn more about South African food and foraging. We had ourselves an Ostrich Braai, what we here call a barbeque.

I know that this is only a small token of what was really an incredible time for me and our team. It’s a privilege I hold dear. With so many lessons it is hard to encapsulate them all into one. Perhaps what I can say is where we can often be tone deaf or come in with our own misconceptions into a space, I have learned over the years that allowing those who own the space to lead you not only helps you communicate your ideas and what you can contribute more effectively, but allows growth in oneself too.

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As our Amplify Journey’s tagline goes: We are stronger together. Sharing our knowledge across our cultures and continents will only serve to make this world a much better place. The future is bright for all of us, regardless of which continent we are on.

 

Talent Mobility Summer Checklist

Read the Signs

I recently experienced a massive failure in a global talent mobility program. How can this be true you ask when we live in a world where great talent is critical to business success?  Because we get comfortable.  Which is why I encourage fellow talent professionals to consider adding a review of your talent mobility program to your summer checklist?

Often we put away our winter clothes and pull out summer clothes this time of year.  Which is why we absolutely should take the time to pull out all the vendors in our ecosystem to review them as we would our summer wardrobes? 

Ask ourselves the difficult questions: 

Do they still fit my talent acquisition objectives

Are they current with the times? 

Do they allow me to realize goals?    

I know, I know.  You are thinking, oh no, I’ve invested countless hours to establish these relationships, these rates and the overwhelming task of re-establishing them sounds daunting.  Don’t fear.  It may not be necessary to re-establish vendors.  In many cases, it may just require re-negotiations or real time adjustments and feedback sessions that are in alignment with your talent management programs. 

Talent Mobility Checklist

  1. Review quantitative surveys from past 12-18 months from vendors
  2. Review qualitative data
  3. Check in with current mobility clients and ask them about from past 12-18 months from vendors
  4. Reach out to employees who have left the organization in the past 6 months who had mobility packages and interview them yourself or a trusted delegate
  5. Call your mobility coordinators yourself to assess if they pick up the phone and/or how long they take to respond back to you? their experiences to better understand any areas they have opportunities for process or vendor refinement
  6. Review the approach your vendors are taking with issues and their resolution
  7. Check in with spouses or domestic partners of a cohort of recent mobility clients to gather spousal feedback on the programs
  8. Look at industry data and compare against your programs to assess gaps and/or opportunity areas
  9. Review financials with your vendors for the past few years to bench against industry rates to ensure you are in alignment and/or where you see opportunities
  10. Test out a mobility experience yourself from start to finish to live the entire experience as if you were your own talent

Born Leadership Legacy

Nothing more fulfilling than reading about how universities, organizations and community leaders are seeking out key qualities that resonate with those of us who learned as toddlers, that we MUST share.  It’s no longer just about the test scores, but rather a candidate or talent’s ability to demonstrate:

Passion   Creativity   Accountability   Flexibility   Focus   Resilience Gratitude

In fact, as the first born of two university professors, these were mandatory skills that I had to demonstrate consistently throughout my youth.  Our family structure valued rigor in an approach to education, peppered with the freedom to fail.  All the while, emphasis on re-invention and repetition.

Now several decades later, I’ve found that this foundation was the basis for my career success in that I learned to value active listening, collaborating, risk taking, and persistence.  In fact, I’ve found that through sharing, I personally have more to gain than loose.  Which is what brings me to the following question?  Why are we still talking about embracing business models which encourage enterprise mentoring, collaboration and connections to talent and learning development programs?

Leadership, it boils down to this simple word.  Whether you talk about leadership on the scale of a billion dollar company, or via deep and lasting impacts a home maker / leader has on their brood or a tribal leader.  We in leadership every single day are putting into motion these ‘systems’ through our actions and words.  Which is why we often see much ado about: Amazon, Zappos, Mary McNevin healthcare as the industry sweethearts who are daring to lead, making laudable investments in people, or is charging forward with drastic strategy pivots?

At a cursory level, you can read about handfuls of leaders who have a burning imperative for being performance enablers.  These individuals have clarity of vision and ensure their teams collaborate and have what they need to deliver results.

So don’t be the ‘tractor in the swamp’.  Be bold and take on the wide-ranging malaise surrounding organizational design structures and performance management systems through your born leadership legacy.

The Matterhorn of Significance

It’s a great summit we aspire to ascend in a lifetime.  Finding peace, understanding our purpose or our significance in this short timeframe in which we inhabit this planet.   Countless individuals struggle around their definition of success.  Fighting to gain spotlight, to feel worthy, to realize legitimacy, or perhaps simply to not be forgotten.  These are questions I had to ask Terri Casady.  She is someone with presence, someone who clearly embodies resilience and resolve.  She embodies characteristics that are laudable in our leadership society.  I was mesmerized by her mind and journey, so when I asked this fearless woman in leadership about her ‘mojo’ she was quick to share her recipe.

Terri has struggled with the construct personally.  In a way none of us ever want to struggle.  Her son died when he was only 20 years old.  She fought her way out of grief and has since dedicated her life journey to invest in others, ensuring they feel significant and recognizing that it’s about being in the back light that really matters.

1.)    Find ways to allow people to be their best

2.)    Guide, open doors and introduce people to your personal networks

3.)    Transfer your knowledge through teaching, modeling and enabling

4.)    Advocate on behalf of someone doing the right thing, tell their story, lift them up

5.)    Go with your intuition

6.)    Grant trust

7.)    Take risks

8.)    Be courageous

9.)    Live without fear

10.) Lead and live with integrity

Did you feel those goose bumps?  Well I did, right up my arm.  I was honored that she shared her tree of life story and personal credo.  These guiding principles are appropriate as we enter autumn.  Whether we change leaves, colors or behavior, we need to remember the importance of doing what is right when no one is looking, because that after all is realizing significance.

Working with Fear in Community Conversations

Spice it up!

I’m sure you have worked with someone who is resource protective, they operate out of fear or perhaps they just love a good helping of spice in life, like these gorgeous habaneros.  Often times people find themselves working for years to create a position, gain what they perceive to be power, get comfortable or simply don’t want to upset the apple cart.  So the answer is yes, change agents can be perceived as a threat.  However, no need to fret, just be reminded that to enter the conversation, it requires having your tools sharp in your tool belt and ready to get some good use.  Here are a few tips that I’ve seen work in these situations:

  1. Approach the conversation with the business vision as the core
  2. Tie into desired business outcomes
  3. Thank them for the opportunity to talk, share and/or engage
  4. Value them for their role within the organization and their journey
  5. Spend a moment to demonstrate your understanding of their expertise and value to the business
  6. Stand for what you have witnessed and/or experienced and use proposal based language
  7. Share candid and direct feedback to invite new possibilities
  8. Be authentic with your preferred interaction style to honor your needs as an individual
  9. Agree to disagree
  10. Set conversation norms, honor guiding principles and make sure to respect and value one another

Often times in our 140 character and information intense lives we forgot that relationships take a large amount of trust, time and work.  I know, I know, the last thing one wants to do is play with wolves, but often times that can generate the most impactful outcome.  It requires courage, fortitude and resilience.

Placing VALUE in personal networks

Time of the Social Bloom

As a social weaver, I think often about my networks.  I do invest 10% of my time daily into reading, sharing and reaching out via the post office, phone, email, Word Press, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and other networks to cultivate and nurture them.  Certainly this has become a bit more challenging over the years with the complexity of tools, interfaces and compatibility that makes it more challenging.  So what I try to do is the following:

1.)   Create a system and back it up for you to capture all your key and/or tier one connections in your network.

2.)   Flex your documentation muscles as details matter.  Take time to document key information around your networks preferred interaction styles, preferences and likes so that you can remember names of family members, businesses, awards, alma mater, etc.

3.)   Be authentic.  Take the time to send hand written thank you notes, send flowers, books and/or hand deliver a meal.  All of the personal time investment is going away with the speed the internet has given us, so now is the time to re-invest this savings into things that really matter.

4.)   Give a Hoot.  Personally I’ve found that by allowing the twitter application to connect with LI, FB and vice versa, my social networks get these updates and can customize their personal view as needed.  I currently use Hootsuite to aggregate my twitter streams as it has an easy to use platform and a community based approach to support.

5.)   Invest in your purpose per network.  Take the time invest in yourself, your brand or simply hire a social media advisor to partner on your purpose and plan.

Someone recently asked me about the ‘size of my current network’?  I wasn’t sure how to answer this question at first since it really depends, right?  Immediately, I then started to analyze how social has changed the dialogue, the language and currency we use.

This notion of a social net worth is an akin to a financial portfolio.

In the future, perhaps we will be asked when applying for either a loan, credit card or job what the range of a ‘social value’ score that not only help them determine risk, but perhaps what someone views as a social investment.  Truly fascinating how these social analytics are becoming game changers.  As with anything, the public verus private ‘number’ will be something people yearn to acquire.

People ARE the experience

Secret Ingredient

In talking with Nancy Long, Chief HR Officer at Hitatchi Data Systems, One of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For recently, not only did I get goose bumps,  but found myself going on a journey with her.  Think global amusement park meets data solutions.  Wow, her inspiration is contagious and exhilarating.  Yet I also found it quite humble in that she has an earnest commitment to people as the base ingredient for her success in the people business.

As a foodie, I approach conversations thinking about the ‘secret sauce’.  What she shared with me was that over her career her secret ingredient is/are:  PEOPLE.  People are paramount for this tireless leader in the PEOPLE business who truly embodies this guiding principle.  Wow!  She is onto something to create recipes using PEOPLE in every dish.  She has talent at the forefront of the portfolio in her strategies and how she leads organizations who create winning cultures.  Nancy shared, “our leadership throughout HDS at all levels has done an amazing job rallying, supporting and motivating our people.  We have won several pieces of recognition, locally and globally.  Last year we won “most clued in leadership team in Silicon Valley” which was a HUGE accolade for us!

So how ‘secret’ is this ingredient I asked myself?  Well, after searching Google , I found over 12,590,000,000 results and over 6,839 results when searching Harvard Business Review .  The concept of people isn’t a secret. It’s the ‘art’ of creating the winning cultures that seem to be difficult to realize.  Nancy is like many great collaborative artists, she shares her masterpieces, she invites us to learn from her and receive sustenance we yearn for in the workplace.

In summary, I believe we can all learn from this extraordinary leader to embody the PEOPLE business in every sense of the word.  We must build people talent acquisition strategies that are created by the people, for the people and with the people.  We must use the P ingredient in all our creations, whether they are pastries, pipelines or partnerships.  Indeed this thrilling ride is something you can experience.  All it requires is laser focus on PEOPLE.