Believe, Encourage, Listen and Lift

12728637_512261332310739_732899418_n(1)

It doesn’t matter if you are age 6, 12, 25, 39, 51 or 64.  We all need to hear the ring of a bell.  We are reminded of this in Hemmingway’s famous work, For Whom the Bell Tolls  ” No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine”:

Believe.  We must firmly believe in the power of human potential.  It’s surprising how this act has great possibilities and can truly allow another person to fight through a treacherous pathway they were previously unable to pass.  It’s our ability as coaches, mentors and leaders to ensure that our staff, teams and organizations demonstrate through our actions and words those they we ‘believe’ in them.

Encourage.  This word is often over used.  It means different things to different people.  But what I’ve found surprising is that often outsiders in the circles of relationships can spark the fire within individuals in order for them to grasp onto that rope a wee bit longer in order to climb up the long  and difficult ascend to ring the bell at the top of the gym or in life.

Listen.  Take time to truly listen to people.  Allow space for your teams to share their challenges, frustrations and aspirations.  For with our ability to suspend judgment or problem solve for others, there is power in the courtesy and respect of demonstrating how we value them as individuals and what they bring to the table.  More often than not you will be surprised in what you hear if you listen close enough.

Lift upwards.  Do spend time to realize that your staff may be facing an audience of nay-sayers or reminded of their 8th grade nemesis.  They may be experiencing counterproductive thoughts but secretly want to hear the bell in order to realize greatness.    The only way we can allow our team to reach greater heights is through our generosity of time using the BELL concept.

I hope you will join me in making time every day to sound the BELL of leadership.

Creating remarkable customer experiences

 Create Remarkable

I was reminded by the CEO of Start Human recently that creating remarkable customer experiences is paramount to business success.  I was delighted that her company is focused offers training and services which allow organizations to put the customer first.

Matching your actions and words.  An important business value often overlooked when focusing on short term results.    Laudable goal, but hard to realize unless you invest in people.

From acquisition, learning and development to experience.   Our talent teams need to embody these concepts through their actions and words.  If we as leaders don’t have the courage to request fast feedback and demonstrate active listening, we may find ourselves in a conundrum.  Simply because the world now has multiple channels of interaction and networks that extend beyond what we ever imagined.  Today we must invest in our front line staff.

Sanofi could benefit to embody these concepts.  Their handling of the voluntary Avi-Q recall is being poorly communicated and managed.

WHY I HAVE MENTORS BOTH DEAD AND ALIVE

LBK_FK

Who is your mentor today? Who have your mentors been in the past?  Are they family, community members, business professionals, celebrities, athletes, politicians or historical figures?

I personally have several mentors.  Dead and Alive.  I find that I can draw knowledge and wisdom from my ancestors.  Learning about their struggles, their impacts or their sheer perseverance often helps me ‘fill my watering can’.

Why do I use that metaphor?  Well, because I believe knowledge is the lifeblood that blossoms to new growth and learning.  Either way, what I do know is that I draw strength from inspiring and impactful human beings.  They are my water, sustenance, something that’s developed into more of a need than a want. The needs to be not only inspired, but to give you drive, if I had used a different metaphor, I would say fuel to your fire. When I face difficulties in my life, perspective can be the thing that can remind me of what I have, what I lack, and what I can stand to learn and gain. We’ve all had those days; you know the ones where things are disorganized and chaotic.  Where the organizations don’t have solid design structures, lack clarity with regards to the business and division goals, and more importantly lack transparent leaders who are the embodiment of trust and integrity.  Fluffy words, I know, but often times we get into these projects and get lost in the sea of work, life and chaos.

It’s hard to find clarity in strength. Especially if you have management without experience, lean budgets, and /or egomaniacs. It can be simply unbearable.  Often times I find turning on some music (like if you were at the gym) and find an inspirational work space, alongside mentors, you can muster through.  It isn’t so bad, but if you don’t have people who are experienced or trusted advisors you can look to for ‘strength’ it can be cumbersome. This is why I encourage a myriad of sources.

Family is always good, since most of them love unconditionally.  But often times, they don’t understand your field, so you need to seek out people who understand your work culture or industry.  At the same time, you as a mentee must be willing to listen and probe. Try to better understand your shortcomings, blind spots or more importantly opportunity areas.  I also find a lot of strength in reading biographies of people who have carved or blazed their own trails in their lifetimes.  I’ve noticed, reading and art are strong fuels for my own passion.  For example, as a young woman I was introduced to Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist who overcame several life challenges.  She suffered for many years, but took her suffering and turned it into something she could offer to others, and in turn brought her pride and personal satisfaction.  Since I admire her journey, I enjoy putting up copies of her art to be reminded of her struggle.  It often can trigger me to step back, think through my situation differently or more importantly dig deeper inside myself for new strength and renewal.

Innovation with the letter R

RenoArnold Carbone shared his thought leadership with regards to his R&D experience with Ben and Jerry’s during a recent @AIGARenoTahoe event @theBasementReno which reminded me of the behaviors we must have in order to evolve as we develop products and services.

Mentoring, market research, business plan development, etc. are all critical milestones in our business lives; this talk reminded me that as an entrepreneur or product manager, we must constantly be re-inventing our approaches. It’s no longer about the solid channel strategies and programs, but actually the talent we hire and inspire. We must have talent that innovates with the letter R.

We must have people on our ‘team bus’ who understand the importance of knowing their audience yet can flex in VUCA world to listen, advocate, influence, engage and execute. These are no small tasks. I’ve found these individuals are comfortable to constantly learn, re-invent themselves, seek out fast feedback and incorporate it into their work styles and approaches. Additionally, they have high integrity and are quick to translate the key business objectives through their day to day actions. From the tactical activities such as influencing internal stakeholders or executive sponsors.

As I sat at the Old Post Office inside an art deco building in Reno, Nevada, I was reminded that whether your customer is a high tech executive or a scoop shop owner, we must invest in building skills which start with the letter R in our future leaders if we want to continue to have products such as Phish Food in our lives.

Resourceful, Relentless, Revolutionary Innovation, Resilience and Responsibility

Danell Wilson-Perlman, Female Leader changing the limo transportation world one tread at a time

Danell2015

She’s a female leader in the state of Nevada who is advocating to keep free enterprise live and well in Las Vegas which is the largest limo network in the world. Las Vegas. And guess what, she’s rocking at it. She is a co-owner of Reno-Tahoe Limousine and has been working with the Pacific Legal Foundation to help advocate on behalf of all the small companies to change legislation that would allow her company to grow and thrive in the Nevada market. Up until now, she has been limited. For the full story, review the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the torque of a woman who’s standing up for local businesses and changing the transportation world one tread at a time. The outside is undoubtedly shiny and ethereal, but man oh man, this woman has depth.

She is in the middle of this legislative process and remembers to thank her staff, buy a gift and attend BREKKIE (Where she continues to support and inspire other women and share hilarious anecdotes—see end of blog). She’s steadfast in her commitment, isn’t wavering, despite all the obstacles that she has been confronted with in these past few months. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have met such a fierce woman advocating on behalf of many small business people to allow them to realize their own dreams. She wrote a story of hope, and justice. How a small company is pushing back to be permitted to increase their fleets without unfair interference from the massive limo and taxi industries that operate in Las Vegas. Might just be the next major motion picture.

A few of her business traits that make her successful women in business:

Fair, hardworking, resilient, knows when to ask for help and has a strong female vision

Oh, I almost forgot the anecdote; “When I was in typing school, I remember my teacher telling me I was awful and would just end up pouring tea for the boss. As I sipped my tea, I realized my teacher was right.”

It’s like a muscle, if you practice and flex it, it can turn into a way to live.

IMG_4554

A tenant of success in business is relationship nurturing, building, tending and sustaining.  Yet in today’s wired world, it’s easy to spend too much time with surface level interactions.  One of the many skills that we must maintain is the skills of active listening, authentic conversations and integrity.  Easier said than done in today’s world, yet must be a core competency we focus on.

One of my secret ingredients that I share with community managers in my coaching sessions it that of an earnest commitment in your businesses, communities or lives to ensure that people are the base ingredient for your success.

In our practice of daily mantras, meditation or simply during our to do list review, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will you motivate today?
  • Who will you recognize?
  • How many direct customer, partner and employee conversations can you spark?
  • How can you inspire your colleagues, team or company in a new way?
  • How can you make the mundane more ‘fun’?
  • Can you listen in the moment with your customers, partners, employees or prospects today?

Engaging the Organization – Adoption Strategies

AudienceView2014_JiveWorld

Over 200 attendees packed the Hitachi Data Systems use case session during Jive Software end user conference in Las Vegas last week titled, “Engaging the Organization – Adoption Strategies”. 

Michelle Groff Burling and I presented following the 8am keynote with CEO Tony Zingale, CMO Elisa Steele and the popular band OK-GO.    Since energy levels were high following that kick off,  we were delighted to find a full ballroom with enthusiastic attendees with a myriad of questions and interactions throughout our presentation. 

We wanted to share with you the top five approaches that were well received:

  1. Schedule only 5 minutes with leaders (not an hour)
  2. Probe for key content with audience in mind
  3. Actively listen for key content targeting your audience
  4. Capture executives key phrases
  5. Share a short paragraph following your meeting with them within the hour

Leaders in your organization can find time for blogging, it simply may require some initial heavy lifting and ‘digital coaching’ couple with fast feedback to help them conquer their initial fear.

 

Starting an Elementary School Speech & Debate Club

IMG_5543

 

Starting a debate club

Speech and Debate clubs are great ways to boost your child’s confidence and a great way to engage them early on in public speaking, improving speech and vocabulary, as well as encouraging leadership roles. The club teaches them vital life skills like project management, and working to be unbiased and see both sides of a topic.

The easiest way to go about it is to have your child become interested. After taking a tour of at a specialty school, I became interested after reading a poster about a debate club. I asked my mother several questions. Her response to me was, “if you want to start a debate club, then write down the rationale on power point and present it to your principal.” Sure enough, that was what I did. My mother gave me a few suggestions, but off I went with her to a meeting to discuss this after school club I wanted to start. I was surprised that all I needed was a parent or teacher who will be there at every club meeting to supervise and facilitate. My mother wanted me to highlight that she called a few administrators for their support too. Fortunately, since she is a leadership coach, she had experience and skills in the corporate world that all the students leveraged while she facilitated and led our club meetings and events.

After the initial steps of creating a club, you want to connect with some high school debate students that show up on a regular basis and teach the kids the skills of researching, collecting, presentation and portrayal of data. Then put up posters around the front of the school about the club to get new members. We had around eight members regularly and smaller is sometimes better so that all kids can present and argue their points.

Then next step is figuring creating an agenda for the meetings. Keep in mind that speech is a HUGE part of the club, buy a book of tongue twisters and have all the students line up and have them practice saying them in a loud clear voice (after introductions of course). Make sure everyone has a turn and encourage the quieter ones to speak up. Then split the kids into two groups from youngest to oldest. Then have each high school student go to one group and talk with them about what they are interested in and which side of the topic they want to argue; pro or con. It’s vital that the children get to choose their topic so they’re more passionate about it.

Then have the kids work at home on their topic. The more they like it, the more they research! Have at least one club meeting while they are researching so that everyone is on the same page. Have the next meeting be the date of the argument, there should be equal numbers of pros vs. cons and mix in some of the stronger speakers so that the quieter ones feel like they have strong support. While teams are presenting make sure to watch along with the coaches, everyone should take notes. All coaches should point out at least one positive set of feedback from each child’s argument and at least one piece of constructive criticism. Make sure there are no “winners” while you may think one side spoke better, you have to put these children in a growth environment where they are fueled by passion and not by short lived competitiveness. Then start the process over again at the next club meeting, it’s nice for the kids to be able to pick their own topic and feel independent and strong which all funnels into their confidence and individuality as a person.

Then at the end of the year invite teachers, parents, guidance counselors, high school debate coaches, and area administrators to attend the end of the year debate. View this as their grand finale, give them a couple weeks to trim and practice their speech. For this debate it’s best to do something relevant so that everyone can see how the children view a certain issue or topic, their voices aren’t always heard and this is a way that we as parents can help them speak up for what they believe in. It’s important to see the children grow and thrive each week, by the end they become much stronger, confident public speakers—qualities that our youth need to be developing.

Washoe County School District press release article on the Debate Club.

Blog by IRK

The Change Games

Image

Wearables, real time insights and feedback are here to stay.

It is taking people by storm.  Overwhelming, intrusive, and too much noise I’ve heard from a variety of people regarding this pivot we are all experiencing with the vast integration that technology is having in our day to day lives.

In the US, we are reminded of the familiar concept of competition with March Madness.  Yet we now see these concepts sliding into our crossfit (exercise) class  leaderboards our company  intranets and our personal applications.  I’ve see organizations taking these tournaments to new levels and allowing their divisions to compete against each other for charitable fundraising efforts or hackathons.

What I find ironic is that we have engineers leading technology programs who are great at what they do, but lack in the H2H strategy acumen.  So, why doesn’t HR have a seat at the table?  Why don’t the engineers invite them to the technology implementations?  Perhaps because our HR leaders don’t have the business acumen.  They grew up out of the transactional processing world and don’t have the field experience that allows them to truly understand what it takes to be a strategic business partner.  This is what haunts many great ideas that fall flat.  They lack thoughtful people strategies that look at the extrinsic and intrinsic motivators across these programs, not to mention integration into the diversity and inclusion mission.

My hope is that C Suite leaders hold their People Leaders accountable to embody this behavior themselves.  We ask our People / HR organizations to move from transactional into business partners who are change junkies and realize that the new world order has changed. 

Experienced designer and technologist Kristen Corpolongo stated, “From a creative technologist perspective Lauren brings up an excellent point. Have we begun to reflect on the irony that we are implementing collaborative technologies without engaging collaboration in the process?”  

Perhaps our organizational design structures haven’t evolved in tandem with the times?  Kristen shares that “we want our enterprise social networks to be successful, so we need to make our implementations social from day one, too. In our enterprise Change Games, we need to recognize that business is changing, the skills we need to have are changing, and that the process is more democratized than before. Innovation and creativity are not top-down cycles – they start by opening up to the diversity of thought in our organizations.”

Kristen recommends that “Engineers, designers, managers, and people leaders all belong at the forefront of social initiatives, and they need to look beyond the technology to the human factors that collaborative technology engages. Success in the Change Games begins with trust. Trust builds with consistency. Start with transparency, and coach your people leaders to share knowledge, build relationships, and honor the organic creative process in our enterprises and within themselves.”

Leadership and innovation are changing.  Harvard Business Review bloggers shared a Pixar innovation use case for their collective genius.  Leaders must look in the mirror to reflect on their own approaches while modeling the behavior if they expect their teams to innovate themselves.  So what are they waiting for?  Let the Change Games begin!

Women Collaborating with Women. Yes, More Please!

I’m raising young women to learn to collaborate with other women, not view them as a threat. This is important part of today’s society. Partnering, collaborating and aligning together in order to drive new outcomes, innovations and business in today’s society. Yet, how can I encourage this with youth of today if their mentors aren’t embodying these principles. For example, recently during a business conversation, there were several women on a call, yet one of them found the topic difficult to compete with other women during the conversation

How are you contributing to the movement? Are you spending time in your day to day lives helping your female colleagues? Do you coach / advice or mentor younger women to help them learn how to build alignment with other women with whom they study, carpool, work, or live?

It really boils down to the importance in society today to learn the fundamentals around partnering and building alignment with differences in opinion.

This isn’t about hierarchy, one being better or worse than another. It is about respect and value of one another in our schools, our communities and our workplaces. This is about helping one another through our actions and words to find ways in which we can progress, advance and live with one another.

Truly with all the psychologists, counselors, therapists, coaches and industry content this cannot be that hard. But the truth of the matter is that it really is hard. Suspending judgment, asking for candid feedback, giving candid and timely feedback all the while taking a step back to look at ourselves closely in the mirror are critical aspects to our ability as individuals to advance in our lives. Whether we are in 5th grade or Vice Presidents in an organization. We need to make sure that every day – we are thinking about ways in which we can impact the lives and outcomes of our offspring, our communities, our teams and our teams.

Brene Brown reminds us in her latest research on vulnerability that we really must be courageous and vulnerable in how we approach our lives. Personally, I have found this is riddled with pain – yet on the other end of the spectrum – it also brings one an immense amount of peace. So, what do you say? Follow her thought leadership and try some ordinary courage the next time another female isn’t supportive or feeling threatened by you in the workplace.Image