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

The Change Games

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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

Declarative Statements as Game Changers

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Ken Pearlman, engagement manager at Kotter International shared an article in Forbes  that inspired us to write more about simple statements that we could make to change the game or create conditions.  He highlighted how when one person stated that we are going to “be doing business differently.” That alone gave people permission to consider thinking differently, acting differently and being open to new ways of working.

Sometimes you just need a little affirmation that taking a new road is okay. 

I’ve often found in teams that most people really do want to make a difference, but they are simply bogged down in all the corporate policy and politics.  What people often want is to be heard, be respected and be given the green light to create something innovative and powerful. 

Of course, it takes more than just words.  It requires courageous leaders who are willing to fund, advocate or move barriers in order to drive something across a finish line.  Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that we as community leaders in our own words can create new conditions. 

In particular, we want to speak to the community leader.  Why?  Because they have learned leadership lessons from playing with Legos, they are tenacious and they know how to be game changers.  All of which are vital to being a strong and successful leader.

Passion, creativity and tenacity are attributes of great community leaders, and what brought you to this extraordinary role in the first place.   You’re in this role because you have an innate ability to connect with people and build relationships that are meaningful to your brand.  Your teams want your input, ideas, and creativity.  If you have a great idea that you believe will have an impact on the company’s’ business goals, you should share it. 

But before you do, be sure you have thought about it thoroughly, from inception to how you will measure its success, so that when you present your idea you’re able to show that not only are you dreaming up great ideas, but how you will go about launching and moving the needle to support the company’s business goals with your new idea.

These days and ages, being bold and brave is what the world needs – and is attracted to.  While not every idea will move the needle, I can promise you that one idea will lead to another brainstorm, individually and together as a team, that will move the needle.  So dare to dream big and share your ideas. 

Lauren Klein and Jenny Berthiaume

Change Management, a required work stream in Social Business

The Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll
Break through results can only be realized in Communities if your social business strategy approach includes this work stream. Often the time and resources needed to do this right are overlooked or perhaps simply nebulous because we have to deliver on today’s results. It is so hard to insert the argument if your company views the effort as another tool rollout. So, just a few thoughts this morning around key activities in the change management work stream:

1. Do engage with HR to create the conditions or the environment for your program or organization to achieve results. Call it culture change or innovation – but do engage with HR.

2. Share key industry research, white papers or blogs with leadership over time so that they can learn from their peers outside of your organization.

3. Do what your mother told you when you were young – LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Requires a lot of effort, but do work across the organization and departments to encourage cross pollination.

4. Document, post, comment and work out loud in an open forum so that anyone in the organization can find your work at their moment of need. Yes, work out loud.

5. Invite, extend, flex and don’t let the trolls get you down.

As leaders of change programs, we must be continuous learners ourselves. What this means is that we should always ask for feedback, modify, pivot and adjust and adapt along the way. We extend invitations for new conversations and possibilities along the way, while making sure we don’t let any turkeys get us down. Most importantly, work across the organization with your approach so that this new social business program encompasses people, process and technology. If you hire vendors, encourage them to partner alongside the strategy, design, build and engagement work stream so that you can create the conditions that will allow you to realize the business objectives outlined as a part of your effort. And yes do consider thinking about Digital Disruption and Leapfrogging as concepts in your approaches.

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.