Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bigger Than Me

I recently had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Kenya. Specifically as part of a team that actively supports the Inua Partners in Hope program that helps orphaned young people gain vocational skills to...somehow, amongst the most devastating of circumstances and poverty...provide for themselves.

The whole experience was overwhelming...and hopeless...and incredible...and inspiring.

In short, it was bigger than me.

Perspective
As you might suspect, my view on the 'problems' in my life quickly melted away as I witnessed the power of the human spirit in such extreme circumstances. I returned to my work with colleagues and clients and prospects armed with a fresh perspective. 

Suddenly, the crisis of the moment, or complicated work relationship wasn't really all that complicated..let alone a crisis. 

Here's the rub...how sustainable will my 'new outlook' be? Is this the natural after-effect of something as powerful as my trip; or, have I opened the door to not only how I view my work going forward, but how I will invest my time and resources as well?

Hopefully, it sticks. I'm counting on it.



How About You
When was the last time you experienced a profound event in your life? Did it carry over to your professional life? Did those powerful emotions and newly found clear lens stay with you?

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

No Trick Pony

The world of work, and leadership in particular, is an interesting place. So many experts, confident souls, and buried among them...real pros.

What I find most curious are those leaders who profess to be so good at everything they touch that they can do no wrong.

Ever.

Good at Something
To be fair, we're typically good at 'something'...whether or not that happens to align with our jobs is a totally different matter. For the most part however, everyone brings something to the game.

Where I run into trouble myself; and, see others struggle, is when the belief that we are the smartest people in the room becomes our reality. That is dangerous territory, filled with over inflated egos, arrogance, and a lack of credibility.

I've been there from time-to-time...and I hate it. It's quite embarrassing actually. Fortunately those moments are the exception not the rule. For others though...it is a way of life. 



How About You
What do you do about those leaders in your organization that are "just so darn smart" that they've alienated those around them? Do they realize they are not even a one-trick pony? How can we support them so they can be a legitimate member of the team going forward?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

No Bold Tactics

Let's be clear about something right away. Busy does not equal effective. Everyone is busy...or make themselves 'busy.' I see it all the time. Leaders who want to over share how hectic their days are...so full of things to do...and important executives to sit next to during meeting after meeting.

So...I hate to break it to those folks who thrive on this sort of thing...but you are failing.

Leadership is not only about going to meetings.
Leadership is not only about getting things done on your task list.
Leadership is not only talking about how busy you are.

Tactics and Excuses
Too many leaders get stuck in tactical decisions (even the most senior executives) and convince themselves that they are actually moving their organizations forward.

Not true.

Sure, it's easier to feel productive when you're doing things. I love the feeling of (digitally) checking items off my Wunderlist. But, those items are at the end of the process. At some point, I've had to invest significant time, energy and resources into effectively planning the bold moves my organization or my clients need to make.

There are no tactics in that work.


Strategy and Courage
The really difficult work of planning, executing, and completing strategic plans is, in my opinion, the most important work to be done. True plans...fresh ideas that become reality...launching new product lines...addressing major gaps in the organization and doing something about it...THAT is the work of real leaders.

The same old talk, talk, talk, without the plan is worthless. 

Why reference courage at this point? Easy...most leaders don't have the courage to build the plans necessary...to take the bold risks necessary...to literally move their organizations forward.

It is far easier to work to maintain the status quo and keep life in neutral, than it is to see what needs to be done and build and execute a plan that gets the organization to an entirely new place.

How About You
Look back over the last five years of your career. What risks have you taken? How have you literally changed your organization for the better? What tangible results can you share?

You have it in you to make it happen. You simply need to go for it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Outlive the Hand

"What's the most important contribution that you've made to your organization?"

Let that sink in for a minute.

Now take that question a step further. "What will your most important contribution to your organization be after you've left?"

Whoa.

Trains Running
As you start replaying the various initiatives you've been a part of let's clear something up right away. Keeping operations running smoothly is not the answer to either of my questions. While important, no one has a legacy that starts with "she always kept the trains running on time."

That is an expectation, not a legacy.

Courage
The most important, and candidly impactful, things I've accomplished in my career required a fair amount of risk and courage. Trying new approaches in very public ways (which means failure would also be very public); and, tackling unpopular issues were always at the top of my list. 

Was I a glutton for punishment? Of course not. Did I see opportunities to make a real difference in the life of my organizations? I sure did. The cold reality of pushing issues that are risky is that it is often a lonely path forward. The support often comes after breakthroughs and success. 

But that's not what legacies are built around. It's all about the difference we make. Not the slaps on the back, or praise in front of the masses. Not chasing glory to pump up our fragile ego. It is simply about knowing we did the right thing in a big way. 



How About You
What will your legacy be long after you've written the last verse? What about the other aspects of your life: family, faith, relationships or volunteering? True legacy means that what we've created outlives the hand that created it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

inspiration
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Power of Community in Your Success

I've been thinking a lot about the role "community" plays in my life. It's a term that gets thrown around so much that I wonder if anyone has internalized a definition for themselves and embraced it?

The deeper I've gone into my own communities, the more I see the profound role they play in my life. In fact, I can quickly identify six distinct communities that I actively participate in on a daily basis. Whoa!

Professional
This seems obvious, yet my focus isn't that I have a cool job and am able to do interesting things. It's all about the relationships and trust I've built that makes the difference.

Social
All hail the power of social media. Yes, I'm serious. Some of my most important social relationships (and my Personal Board of Directors) were born out of my connections on various social media channels.

Faith
This is a huge part of my daily life, and I am absolutely grateful for it. Whether I'm leading small groups, or prepping for a big mission trip later this summer, my faith community has been tremendous.

Fitness
Staying healthy and reasonably fit has been an important part of my life for a long time. Investing in a professional trainer last Fall has helped me take my game to the next level. Now, a new facebook accountability group around fitness and motivation helps keep me on track as well.


Music
When my friend Michael Carty asked me to write about how I feel about "my" music, I was both humbled and a bit intimidated. But alas, my music is not only one of my greatest passions, it has also brought me to one of the most welcoming, nonjudgmental communities I have ever experienced. Here's the post if you're curious.

Family
Last here...but certainly not on my list of priorities, is my amazing family and those close personal relationships that make all the noise of the world seem insignificant. To say I feel blessed would be a massive understatement.

How About You
What are the communities that mean the most to you? How do they make a difference in your life?

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What's Your Message?

We all send a message. Whether it's in the words we choose to say, the decisions we make, the risks we take, the way we choose to behave or the culture we promote in our organizations...we all send a message.

What message do you send? What would those around you say defines who you are as a leader? Those messages are real. Their impact on the team is real. 

Far too often leaders believe they can say one thing and do another. That is simply untrue. Our colleagues are bright, insightful people who are crystal clear on our impact. 


How is it then that leaders can convince themselves of their own reality and be so far removed from what actually is...well...real?

The saddest part is watching it all happen. So many lost opportunities to lead, when instead it's as if their internal cult of personality has to be fed.

What do you think about messaging? Is it as simple as "do the right thing" or, is there a deeper issue that needs to be explored?

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.

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Monday, July 1, 2019

Downshift

Hey friends...I'm back from an incredible week away with my sons. I'm blessed beyond words to be able to have fun as well as to experience wild moments with them (literally...think sharks!)

Time
As my children become adults, it is increasingly clear to me that the quality of the time we spend together far outweighs the quantity. Gone are the days of playing hide and seek and having "floor time" every evening after work.

Now, it's all about quality. To be honest with you, that transition is harder than I thought it would be. They don't need me every day like they used to, but they sure do need me now. 

We maximize our time together, as I do with my older daughter, to ensure our time is meaningful, not just an obligation to "get together."

Focus
I wonder if that same commitment to quality moments holds true in the workplace? Spending time with our team members is critically important to building the corporate cultures we all long for. Yet, it is not up to the employees to create the environment for that culture to flourish. 

That responsibility rests solely on us as leaders.

Additionally, our employees don't need us to watch over them every minute of the day. They are not children. They are the bright, creative, hard-working people that make our organizations successful.

Do they still need us? Of course they do. But they need quality, not overbearing quantity.


How About You
What is your time commitment to your team? Are you downshifting away from a focus on quantity and moving to maximizing the quality of your time with them? Or, is the old school bed check approach more your style?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I Grind Harder Than You

I've spent lots of time over the years pushing myself. 

that ridiculous "inbox zero" goal...

the perceived need to be the first one in the office and the last to leave...

the email sessions over the weekend to stay on top of every single thing in the universe...

and worst of all, the guilt that comes from actually giving myself some down time.

What is Wrong With Me
Maybe it comes with age...er...not being an up and comer anymore? Maybe it's a new lens that we are blessed with when we cross the halfway mark (yes, I'm over 50). Or, maybe it's just that I'm thinking about my whole self, and how taking care of my whole self actually makes me a better member of my organization?

How is this post any different than the ones that talk about work / life balance and taking care of yourself?

Well, it's not about everyone else like those other posts. This one is about me.

Slowly Figuring It Out
Over the last year or so, I've finally started to distance myself from "work guilt" and have completely moved away from the odd concept of "work / life balance."

First, the guilt. 

Understanding that my entire life is not defined by the work I do (although I am extremely proud of what we're doing at Kinetix); and, that the success we are having can not be the only thing that represents who I am.

My family, my faith, my friends and my health are also huge parts of who I am. Recognizing that those pieces also deserve my "time" has been an important and positive shift for me.

Now, that balance fallacy.

For a long time I've struggled to let go of trying to balance my work life and personal life. Not necessarily in the way you might think though. The realization that has finally come is to fully embrace that notion that my life includes both my work and personal lives throughout every day.

I may need to spend a night (or several) working on a proposal, catching up on work tasks or prepping for a busy day. The weekend might provide the only time I can focus on important follow up items.

I also may need to spend part of a day addressing other pressing issues in my life that are not work related...but they are "me" related.


My whole self. 

It comes down to balancing my whole life, not trying to compartmentalize the many facets of who I am into nice little buckets and time slots on my calendar.

Life balance.

How About You
Have you gotten caught up in the mindset of hyper-productivity is the only true productivity? I was there for many years. Now, I embrace all of the parts of my life and I feel stronger and more effective than ever. I wish it hadn't taken so long to get here.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My Secret Ingredients to Interviewing

Over the years I've interviewed for a variety of jobs. In the early part of my career I was...well...not even close to qualified for some of them. But that didn't stop me from getting hired.

What was the secret combination of magical spells I put on the hiring managers to give me a shot?

Three Secrets
1. Preparation

This first step may sound obvious, but sadly, I've seen this noticeably absent over and over again. Candidates come to interviews (even at middle and senior management levels) ill-prepared to grill me and my colleagues about the opportunity.

Conversely, I have always wanted to be the most prepared person in the interview process...particularly when I was the candidate. That's right...I wanted to be far more prepared than those interviewing me.

Exhaustive reviews of company websites, Linkedin profiles, google searches of leaders, and detailed questions based on each person who would be interviewing me were mandatory. 

2. Confidence

Being timid is lame. Being soft is lame. Being meek inspires absolutely zero confidence. Sound hokey? I don't care. 

It's true. I'm never going to hire someone to join my company if they are not confident in their initial presentation to me. 

After all, I'm only asking them to talk about them self. If they can not do that, how are they going to thrive in any corporate culture? 

3. Energy

How does one exude confidence? With lots of energy, that's how. Work is more demanding than ever. The ability to keep up with the crazy pace we're all expected to maintain requires lots of energy. If that doesn't show in the interview, how in the world will a hiring leader have any confidence that it will mysteriously show up once you start the job?

How About You
What are your secrets to successful interviews? What would you add to my list? 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

The Shortest Straw

Drawing the Shortest Straw: Chosen to do a task that nobody wants to do (read here --> leading Human Resources)

They Have No Idea
The unknown pressure of leading HR.

The toughest, most confrontational roles.

The most intense issues to address...investigations, harassment, discrimination.

Terminating others. It's not just getting rid of a 'problem'...you just stopped someone from earning money to provide for their family.

The pressure to 'fill the jobs' when we know the leaders bear just as much responsibility to create cultures where their team members feel valued and respected.

The demands to develop an effective team of leaders.

The responsibility to build a positive culture across the entire organization.

The necessity to not only understand HR, but to also fully understand the business, revenue streams, and expense management challenges.

The need to have a comprehensive and competitive compensation program.

The expectation that the organization will remain union-free.

Oh, yes, and make sure all of the parties are fun.



How About You
Did we pull the shortest leadership straw? 

Hell, no. 

We drew this straw because the others can not handle what we can handle.

Take pride in being a leader in HR. Take pride in being a leader in your organization.

Take pride every time you hear "I could never do your job." They're absolutely right. They never could.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gotta Go

I've recently had the privilege to speak at several #DisruptHR events in Atlanta and Tampa. My talk focused on the potential for human resources leaders...and candidly, all leaders...to take risks, live their values, and lead with conviction.

That's what is most important, right?

HR Stuff Matters, But...
It's not that updating policy manuals, going to the Forms Committee meeting, and ensuring open enrollment goes smoothly aren't important. But, these things don't drive business results.

Living your values, and leading with conviction do.

When was the last time you led with your personal values first...and corporate double-talk last?

Take the Step
One of the things I found so encouraging during those DisruptHR events was the energy the attendees had to make changes. They are ready to move forward into new territory in their organizations. 

They are ready to go for it.

How About You
Are you ready to join them? What is on your list that seems impossible to execute, but with some support (from me!) and some courage (from you!) it can become a reality?

You gotta go for it!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hear the Silence So Loud

I'm taking a different look at leadership today...in a very personal way. I am grateful to have such a supportive community to share my perspectives. Thank you friends.

----------------------------------

I am a proud member of Hyde Park United Methodist Church (an open, loving community of faith that welcomes every person) and lifelong member of the larger United Methodist Church (UMC.) My father spent his career as a Pastor in the UMC serving high profile large churches that made an impact in their communities. He was deeply committed to his faith, and I am forever grateful that the passion he and my Mother shared for Jesus was instilled in my sister and me.

Earlier this year, as many of you are aware, the larger UMC held a special session of General Conference to decide if we as a denomination were going to be an inclusive faith community or not. 

Specifically, to decide whether or not we were going to fully embrace our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as full and equal members of our denomination. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, the vote to follow Jesus’ message of love and inclusion failed.

Friends, I am struggling with this outcome. I am struggling more than I ever have as a United Methodist.

Struggling almost sounds too meek…too soft to fully explain how embarrassed I am about our larger church. Consider the message to the outside world…we proclaim to have open hearts, minds and doors, and continue to push this message across multiple platforms. 

Yet, we’ve in effect slammed those same hearts, minds and doors shut in the face of people who simply want to worship God just like we do.

How is this possible in 2019?
I recognize that not everyone shares my beliefs; however, I cannot reconcile in my mind that people can proclaim to have the power to make decisions about ordination, love and inclusion as if they were equal to God. 

People do not have the authority to make such decisions, only our God can do that. Do these men and women believe they actually speak for God?

Such hubris!
"The inaction from General Conference…
...the silence… has become the loudest noise 
in the history of our denomination."

As I continue to struggle with the shame I feel that this vote has brought upon the larger UMC, I have considered several options…the most important of which is to remain a United Methodist and fight for the justice that I know one day will come.

I want to be part of the solution.
I want to be a voice that refuses to be silent.
I want to be a part of our UMC family when ALL people will know God’s love.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Expected Perfection

How much latitude do you have in your job to make mistakes? Seriously, do you feel nervous or anxious about it (beyond the normal frustration of overlooking something or making a small error)? 

Are you supposed to be superhuman at work and never make a mistake?

Fail Quickly! Ha!
Okay...let's just stop right here for a minute. Quick show of hands, how many of you get excited about failing really quickly with your new ideas in front of your leaders and employees?

Anyone? Hello?

Right. Neither do I.

Sure, I get the whole "go for it approach." I've spent years trying new things. 

However, I've been able to lead that way because I worked in this organization and now work here and both places afforded me lots of flexibility to be creative, succeed, and yes, sometimes fail without repercussions. 

It's that last part - without repercussions - that often stands in the way of failing quickly as a good thing.

Never Fail
When the world thinks you're supposed to be perfect...every time...how do you survive? 

How do you dare to push and twist and turn and risk and gamble on new ideas to stay competitive and relevant if you're going to be punished if you fail?

Three steps is what it takes.
1. Use language that aligns to your business, not human resources. Demonstrate why your idea adds value to the business, not some lame HR jargon filled spiel.

2. Know what you're talking about. Don't throw around terms and strategies you don't fully understand. Be confident.

3. Act with conviction and do it. Don't be timid or scared.  Behave as if the other skeptics in the room are out of touch, not you. Take the risk. Don't worry if you're alone. That's how this works.

How About You
Don't you think it's time you pushed that idea forward that you've had rolling around in your head for so long? I do too. Get your plan together and go for it. If you want a sounding board, call me at 727.809.4425 and we'll talk through it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Faith, Values and HR

Wait, what?

I know what you are thinking. We can not talk about our faith in the workplace! That's crazy talk! We are going to get complaints, the employees will be in an uproar, and we might even get sued!

Um, let's just slow down here for a minute.

Leave Your Personal Life at the Door
Have you ever heard this phrase? Have you ever said it to an employee? When was the last time you walked into work and shut off every single part of your life outside of work?

I know the answer. Never, that's when.

Regardless of your faith perspective (if you have one) this seems like one of the most absurd (and candidly embarrassing) management messages to send..."leave your personal life at the door."

Our lives are not broken into convenient little pieces.
There is no work/life balance.
There is only life balance, and our faith is
a big part of that journey.

Live the Values
If we pause for a moment to consider what most of our corporate values say (and let's be honest, most are very similar) they focus on treating people well, doing good work, living with integrity, etc.

Hmmm, those sound curiously similar to the core tenets of most world religions. 

So, as we ask our employees, our leaders, and ourselves to 'live the values' of our organizations in everything we do; are we also asking everyone to shut off their faith that implores us to 'live that faith in all we do' at the same time?

I'm no longer buying that premise. How does one pray each day, participate in the life of their faith community, and then walk into work and turn their back on all of that because "it's just business?"

That simply does not make any sense.



How About You
Will I now be preaching the gospel during team meetings? Of course not. 

But will I pretend that I don't have faith, or act as if I'm such a "good man of business" that faith and values don't really matter? Absolutely not.

What is your take? I know this is a complicated and important issue.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Role Models

I think about influential people a lot. Not the flash-in-the-pan 'Youtube sensations' mind you, I'm talking about actual role models. Real people who've done incredible things with their lives. 

Who Are These People
It strikes me as somewhat counterintuitive that many of the most famous role models (at least to me) are ordinary people, who felt called to take risks, stand up for what they believed in, and in some cases, put their lives at risk.

Normal people like you and me, who somehow transformed their lives into something so impactful...it can be difficult for us to wrap our heads around their accomplishments.

Here are a couple of mine...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - a German theologian and pastor whose incredible conviction, sense of purpose, and strong faith led him to oppose Hitler, and ultimately, be executed by the Nazis in the last week of the war.



This is a fabulous book about Dietrich that my Mother gave me several years ago. Check it out and be inspired.

My Parents
This may sound like an obligatory mention, but I can assure you it is not the case. I am blessed to have parents who never stopped raising their voices when injustice was being done in their community or world; and also instilled values in my sister and me that all people matter.

Yes, all people. Regardless of their faith perspective, color, sexual orientation, or station in life. Their values, that spilled over to us, were clearly behind this post from last year.


Their tireless work throughout their respective professional careers (and now Mom's retirement) dealing with race relations, poverty, women's rights, and support for oppressed people continues to be both humbling and inspiring.

How About You
Who is on your short list? Who are the people that shaped your life and helped make you who you are today? I have more on mine...but as always...

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.
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Monday, April 1, 2019

Visions In My Head

We all see the world in one way...our way. We convince ourselves we're seeing it the right way too.

Oh sure, we also claim to be open-minded, and willing to walk in other people's shoes too. Hahahaha...sure we do.

Lens? What Lens?
Here's my dilemma...despite my powerful self-talk machine that "tells me" I'm open-minded, I find myself wondering if that is actually true. 

Or, at least, true enough.

Think about that for a second. You've spent your entire career in HR proclaiming to be open-minded, and as it turns out you're just like everyone else. 

Your lens is firmly strapped on, and that is the way you see the world.

Time for the Humble Pie Buffet
How exactly does one figure out if their world view is much more limited than they previously believed? How much courage does it take to ask and find out?

Whoa! Not sure I'm ready for that.


But if I'm going to be effective, I need to be a lot more open to feedback from those that I trust. (see this post about your Personal Board of Directors to learn more.) 

What might we learn if we ask those closest to us for their honest take on who we are? Are we ready for that feedback? More importantly, are we prepared to make the changes necessary to align our talk and our actions?

Heavy stuff.

How About You
When was the last time you took a step back and critically evaluated your 'open mind?' 

Is that too scary; or, could it be a moment that leads you to new ways of thinking, working, and leading?

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Side Step Leadership

"I'm happy to do whatever you want me to do."

"Oh, I'm ready to jump in at anytime, just tell me what you need."

"I fully support this move, what would you like me to do?"  

Talk is Cheap
We've all heard these comments...often times from leaders in our organizations. Perhaps we've even said them ourselves. 

They appear to be well-intended expressions of support, right? Real team-players stepping up to help...right?

Not so fast.

Let's take a moment and think about the people in our companies that take action first versus offering to do "whatever." That feels different. 

Their impact is very different.

They make things happen. 
They not only connect with us on what needs to be done, but they actually take steps to get things done.

It's Always Action That Wins
Maybe I've become cynical? 

Maybe I've heard too many expressions of support to my face, only to learn that same 'support' is non-existent when it comes down to making decisions and taking a risk?

Or, maybe I have a new level of insight about people? 

They love being seen as helpful and popular, but are rarely strong enough to tackle big issues that involve risk.

Yes. I believe that is true.

How About You
Are you someone who not only offers support, but immediately jumps into the fire to get things done? Or, are you much more comfortable offering support all day long, and then heading home feeling good about yourself and your "support?"

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I Don't Have Time for Social Media & Other Excuses

I am blessed to work with great clients across the country...and for that matter I've been blessed to work with fantastic leaders for decades. 

One of the more interesting (and humorous) things I've heard while consulting, training and designing strategies over the years is the odd list of excuses as to why those same leaders are unwilling to jump into the 21st century.

Here are some of my favorites.

...I don't have time for that

...digital work isn't real work

...social media doesn't impact anything important

...we have a business to run here

But then, sometimes leaders open up and share what they really mean.

...I'm embarrassed that I haven't kept up and I don't want to look foolish

...I know social media is critically important for my personal brand our employer brand but I don't know where to start

...I'm in! Help me learn so I can teach my team

How About You
What excuses do you hear in your organization (or, perhaps say yourself?) It's time to leave those behind and move your leadership game forward. I'll help you!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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