Monday, August 31, 2015

The Second Flame

I’m tossing a challenge out today. I think you’re up for it. It involves focus, commitment, energy, and desire. It will mean more than just being a good team player, or coach, or leader. It will mean sacrificing your time…almost all of it…to do one thing.


Today we’re all about being busy. Really? Everyone is busy. What is your first reaction when you hear someone complaining about being busy? Do you think they can’t manage their workload effectively? Maybe they don’t understand how to protect time on their calendar to do their work, instead of being stuck in meetings all day. Or the classic, that they are in fact busy but never actually get any work done. There is a huge difference between busy and productive.

Busy…for the sake of busy…is failure.

The Challenge
Before I get to the challenge, it is important to clarify that you must be motivated to be the best you can be in your job. Not pretty good…not giving it your best shot…not using a bunch of lame excuses as to why things didn’t work out quite the way you hoped.

You must be absolutely committed. 

If you’re still with me, and I hope you are…here’s my challenge:

You and I will go all out in our work for the next 90 days. We will push ourselves, we will rely on each other for motivation, we will hold each other accountable, we will do whatever it takes...

…and we will win.

Let’s face it. Non-stop, clear the decks sacrifice is not sustainable forever. We will need to recharge our batteries. By committing to a 90 day onslaught we will be able to totally commit, and at at the same time know we will have a chance to catch our breath before too long.

How About You
It’s time to do more that get a second wind this fall. It’s time for a second flame! I’m fired up about having a kick-ass 90 day sprint. Are you up for it?

Let’s win!

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Arm Yourself

...with a positive approach to your work

...with a smile on your face

...with the courage to stand up for the person who is struggling

...with the common sense to see through the politics

...with the courtesy to greet everyone you encounter

...with the guts to speak out against bigotry

...with the confidence to make a positive impact

...with the compassion to care for others

...with the insight to see beyond the troubles of the moment

...with a healthy dose of humility

...with the stamina to fight through the storm

...with the motivation to keep pushing

...and the willingness to stand alone to do what's right when the other "leaders" run and hide.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Biggest Networking Truth Revealed

No, this isn’t a trick title. 
No, this isn’t another boring networking post.
Yes, your network is lame and it’s your fault.

Still with me?

But I’m A Successful Professional
Sure you are. So are the people who lose their jobs every day because their company hit a rough patch or their industry was outmaneuvered, or you simply are so stuck on yourself that you don’t think you need a network because you're successful.


If I had a dollar for everyone who has ever suddenly connected with me on Linkedin when they found themselves unemployed and now wanted to start networking I could retire. Well, maybe not retire, but you get the point.

The old line about looking yourself up on the Internet to ‘check to make sure your character hasn’t been hacked’ is actually a desperate cry for you to begin networking. A quick google search is the proof you need to show just how invisible you are.

Yes, invisible. 

I’m Hiring, But I Can’t See You
Consider this scenario…I have a job to fill and twenty-five seasoned professionals apply for the position. 

They are all great people, have strong interpersonal skills and similar experience. 

I can close my eyes and pick any one of them and win. 

They are clones…they have no individual identify…they are simply duplicates that can do the job.

Harsh? Maybe. True? You tell me.

However, if one of them has invested in their network, connected with people (maybe even me or you at some point), or heaven help us established a personal brand, guess which one is going to get the job?  


How About You
Your ego is the biggest truth about networking. It gets in the way, clouds your thinking, and convinces you that you’re better than you are. (Mine sure as heck did!) Your ego is in the way of you building the network you need. Networks are not luxuries..they are requirements...they take work to develop both online and in person.

They’re worth it.
They matter.
They will help you...
…but only if you’re willing to do the hard work to build one.

Get over yourself, reach out, connect, pick up the phone and get started.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Living A Fantasy

So I’ve been thinking about how the pieces of my world fit together. The fantasy I cling to is that I have it all figured out. Fantasies are rarely accurate though...

Fantasy #1 - Work
Over the years I've continued to bring a high degree of energy and enthusiasm to my work. I get fired up about the projects I’m leading, the clients I work with, and the colleagues that make it all so special. Helping organizations move from their same-old-comfort-zone into a contemporary power house is absolutely terrific.

But not all of the work is a utopian nine to five dream come true. There are unexpected roadblocks, technology challenges, political hand grenades that get tossed from out of nowhere, and the simple reality that change often scares the old guard to death (read here —> too threatening to their power.)

Fantasy #2 - Personal
I also bring a high degree of energy to my personal life. I don’t seem to have much of an “off switch” when it comes to my world. Each day is an opportunity to push harder than the last…to challenge myself to be better…and to squeeze in one more workout when I’m feeling worn out. 

From the outside it probably looks like I’m in high gear every minute…and I guess for the most part I am. But that doesn’t mean all of those smiles, positive outlooks, and loud jokes equate with internal peace. Peace can be an elusive target.

Maybe there really is more to each of us than what we show on the outside?

Beyond the Fantasies
So how do we find the balance point? When does the line between fantasy and reality come into view? The challenge of embracing a fantasy mindset, for me anyway, is to keep myself focused on how I want to role model behavior for those around me. A positive attitude and nonstop enthusiasm go a long way publicly (and a long way privately too.)

Conversely, how do we integrate all of the other issues swimming around inside our heads (and hearts) and maintain the high octane leader persona everyone expects?

How About You
Don’t stop striving to make your fantasies a reality. I don’t care how hard it gets. My energy, enthusiasm, and dreams about the future fuel me at every step. What fuels you?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How Did I Do That?

I get asked a lot about using social media in my work. How did I get started? How do I find the time? How did I know it would make such a difference for the company? How did I deal with the criticism from the old school leaders who are out of touch?

Lots of ‘how’ questions. Today I’ll offer some brief answers.

How Did I Get Started?
Six years ago I was privileged to move into a VP of HR role at an organization filled with great people, but one that had not made any moves into the contemporary talent acquisition space. I hadn’t either.

With mounting vacancies across the organization and a non-existent national employer brand, something had to change. I decided I needed to learn social media tools and bring them to life with the human resources team.

Stop worrying about starting, just get started.

How Do I Find the Time?
For years I preached the gospel of work-life balance…and for years I struggled mightily with work-life balance! The more I understood about being a leader, the more I realized there is only one thing: life balance. Today I integrate my work life, personal life, and digital life into one continuous flow. 

Stop worrying about time, just get started.

How Did I Know It Would Make a Difference?
As a healthcare executive I looked around and found that not many of my peers were using social media personally or professionally (read here —> almost no one.) As I looked outside my industry I saw a flood of successes. I also paid attention to…well…all of society! Why was…(and still is)…healthcare so far behind? It didn’t matter…the data was clear, and I went full speed into social media.

Stop worrying about changing the world, just get started.

How Did I Deal with the Criticism?
When I started to experiment with social tools, those around me (not my team in HR) found it ‘easy’ to poke fun. There was often an undertone of jealousy (and over compensating in my view) because although those folks were incredibly smart, they had simply been left behind. The world of work had roared past them and they did not have the courage to keep up.

Stop worrying about criticism, just get started.

How About You
As you muster up the courage to lead the way, simply focus on one important thing: you! You can take your career to a whole new level. You can bring your organization to a whole new level too.

You, can make a real difference!

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Still Echoes

I'm willing to bet you spend so much time dealing with the pressure of your job and feeding the ravenous executive corporate culture machine, that you don't spend much time with the front line staff.

You remember them, right? They're the ones you pass in the hall while your hustling to your next meeting to join the same group of leaders who were in your last meeting. 

People First
A year before I left my last organization I decided to try a different approach to connecting with the front line team. I scheduled an hour each month (not a lot of time) to shadow someone. I didn't want the department manager in tow, and I didn't want to sit in a conference room hearing a presentation about the work that was done. 

I've worked in hospitals for twenty years, I'm very comfortable on the units, being around patients, and certainly connecting with the staff.

At first the employees were a little skeptical. I think they either thought I was on some sort of secret monitoring mission; or I was about to pull out a powerpoint presentation and help them understand what they should think, feel, say and do.

You Second
It was new...I was the only non-clinical leader doing any sort of rounding like this...and it was spectacular. Once the concept sunk in that I was simply there to learn, the change in the employee's demeanor was obvious. Now they had the power. They could 'show off' what they knew, and I was full of questions. Genuine questions.

Suddenly the lens I saw the organization through did not include me. It didn't include my meetings, my email, task list, or the political minefields that plague every company.

I only had to do two things: listen and learn.

How About You
Do these phrases sound familiar: open door policy, management by walking around, employee engagement, blah, blah, blah. Words matter...if you back them up with action. If they're just tossed out into the universe they quickly become a distant echo.

When was the last time you turned words into action?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

You, The Apathy Divine

I’m still surprised that it happens so often. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Perhaps it’s just human nature and I need to let it go? Maybe…but I don’t think that’s part of who I am. I don’t let things go as a general rule.

So what is it that happens so frequently? 

Leaders who refuse to step up, that’s what. 

Why does it happen again and again? The challenges in their work are right in front of them. Which means the opportunity to make a difference is also right in front of them. Yet somehow, they freeze. 

Is it fear of failure? Is it a lack of self-confidence? Is it the inability to process so much pressure all at once?

Could be. But what does one do about it? Let’s dive in and get our leaders back on track.

So many leaders end up changing their style once they achieve a new level of success in their careers. The hungry, risk-taking style that separated them from the others suddenly disappears when the stakes get high. The crushing paralysis of a risk-averse leadership style overtakes the once promising approach they used for years.

Fear of failing? YES! Fear of looking bad in front of their other risk-averse colleagues? YES! A new focus on survival vs. leadership? ABSOLUTELY!
"Someday we'll actually reward leaders for their courageous approach, instead of allowing them to hide behind a secret culture of political survival that only serves a handful of other leaders."

The antidote to this problem is a combination of character and willingness to learn. If leaders do not have enough character to recognize their approach is failing then all is lost.

If however, character is not an issue (be honest here), then the world will suddenly open up. Focusing on learning creates tremendous opportunities to excel. 

Consider the following points:

- Learning can be used both as a way to “catch up’ in areas where you are weak, but also to release yourself of the burden of having to know it all.

- When you’re learning you can’t be blamed, right? So keep learning! Show your organization and your teams that you are pushing yourself and will try, fail and eventually win.

How About You
You have to take the first step. I will help you. I will connect with you as often as you need it. I’m not perfect, but I have absolutely no fear anymore in my career. I will try anything, anywhere. I’m not kidding.

Let me help…or find another colleague who you can reach out to and get started now. Pick up the phone and call them. Schedule a coffee session. Don’t let your own apathy derail what could be so good.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Using the Word

I don’t hear many leaders use it. Somehow it invokes the fear of a radical, self-serving third party. Or it gives the impression that the power so many have worked hard to achieve will be eroded. Whatever the reason, I think it’s a word that should be infused into the contemporary leader’s lexicon.

Words Matter
As I think about how the workforce is changing so rapidly with the use of technology, to generational views, to a completely mobile society it strikes me that expectations are changing faster than we might like. Guess what? Others expectations are not up to us. We need to stop trying to control for these things.

What we do have control of is our power. We’re the “older” ones in the workplace. We have the authority to do so many things (hire, fire, set strategy, allocate resources, etc.) If we use our power to introduce a new way of thinking…literally using new words…we can change the culture of our organizations. 

Don’t believe that one word can make a big difference? Try dropping the f-bomb in every meeting you’re in this week.

How About You
Candidly power is only useful if it is used productively. Sure, you can choose to be an ego-maniac power monger, but you’ll look like a fool and your colleagues and employees will mock you behind your back as they resign in waves.

Instead of looking foolish, try stepping out from the norm and infuse this word into your corporate culture:

You might be surprised if you adopted ‘justice' as a core value in your company. The quality of talent you attract and retain might surprise you too.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I've Been Led Astray

It's funny how our lives develop over time. Sometimes we get caught up in the culture of organizations as if they represent all of society. Or we shift our energies into specific people who end up becoming the filter through which we see the world around us. Maybe we convince ourselves we're supposed to be 'something in particular' that in turn impacts our behavior.

Most of the time we don't realize it's happening, because the flow of our lives naturally finds these paths, people, and ways of thinking.

Being Led
Do we invest the time to evaluate where we are on our journey? Is the crush of deadlines, political posturing and the VIPs in our lives taking over? When you add the required hustle of career, family, performance and pressure to be perfect do we feel lost? Oh yes, and we need to remember to have fun with our work too (which I do!) With so much happening should we ask ourselves if we've lost sight of...well...ourselves?

Taking a few moments to validate which path we're on is a worthwhile timeout. Are we being led? If so, are we cool with that or is the corporate/personal/societal pressure we're feeling moving us down a path that doesn't make sense any longer?

Lead the Way
It's time to focus. The need to get completely organized (at least for me) is essential if we are going to determine what is best. I'm quite sure I don't have the all answers, but I do know that without critically evaluating how we're living our lives we will never be able to determine if we're on the right path.

Organization for me is one of the keys to solving this riddle. When life is moving so fast and the challenges are coming from all angles, there is no time (or tolerance) for being flustered and overwhelmed. Life keeps pushing...people keep pushing...which means we must be able to respond in the moment. We no longer have a choice because the rules of life have changed, and we need to be strong enough to play by them.

How About You
It's time to give yourself the freedom to decide whether all of the issues in your world align with who you are as a person, as a leader, and as a difference-maker. Is something or someone standing in the way of where you should be? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Life is about choices. Let's make some good ones and lead the way.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.