Monday, November 28, 2022

Fear and Loathing in 2023

Let’s get right to the 800 pound gorilla in every conference room and office.

Fear. 

Your fears. My fears. Our colleagues fears. Our employees fears. Fear is rampant. If you don’t agree…candidly, I don’t believe you.

What’s next at my organization? At yours? Will your employees hang in there while you scramble to modernize your leadership style? Will your leaders be patient enough to put up with yet another “transformation project” in 2023? How many of those have you rolled out anyway?

Too many, I suspect.


Fear can easily become an excuse. It can take control simply by existing in the collective minds of the executive team. You can’t touch it, or fire it, or reassign it, or transfer it. You have one choice at the end of the day.

Confront it.

Label the factors that are driving your fear experience. 

Build a contemporary plan to address each factor.

Execute on a communications plan that tells everyone what you’re doing.

And then do what you say you’re going to do.

Easier said than done? Of course. Necessary? Absolutely.

Our employees are smart. Show them the respect they deserve with honesty, transparency, and above all else…action.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, November 21, 2022

Life Runs Me

I don’t know about you, but I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to stay in control.

Of everything.

All the time.

Yeah, that’s not the best option though. Damn it.

I feel better when I convince myself that I’m driving things forward in my life. I’m the one calling the shots. I’m the one who ‘gets it’ and can make all the difference.

Maybe you feel that way sometimes too.



This year I’ve discovered a painful truth. Despite the intensity and energy I bring to my work, personal life, side projects, etc…I’m not always running life. More often than not, life is running me.

Consider it a controlled slide. You know what I mean. Think back to a time you were hiking and your feet found the loose gravel as you made your way down the trail. Off you go…not falling…just sliding…and flailing…awkwardly.

That’s what much of 2022 has felt like for me.

Now, it’s not been all chaos and uncertainty. I’ve made some really big decisions this year in my personal and professional lives. More on that later. 

But that comforting feeling of control, at least for me, has been even more elusive this year. How about for you? On top of things? Have it all figured out? Barely hanging on? I’m always ready to chat if you need to.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, November 14, 2022

My Biggest Flex

I’m not sure when this phrase became a thing. I like it though. 

Flexing means effort, sacrifice, consistency, and ultimately results. It’s more that just announcing something, or at least it should be. Flexing means success.

Often ‘biggest flex’ is a simple phrase: “my biggest flex was finally believing in myself.” Okay, sounds good. But what in the world does that mean? You never did before? Maybe. You’ve gone through a rough stretch? Perhaps. You want to join in the biggest flex trend to look cool? No comment.

Biggest flex for me has an entirely different meaning. It speaks to the culmination of years of thinking, working, planning, dreaming, worrying, convincing myself to play it safe, and then ramping that whole self-talk machine up again.

That machine is going full power right now.

It now means a long list of things ranging from mental health awareness, to relationships, to thinking far beyond what I thought I could ever do or be. 

No quickie phrases here. No Instagram ready quotes. No short little life changing tweets.

Something big is on the horizon. 

What’s your biggest flex?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, November 7, 2022

The Brink of Insight

I’ve worked with a lot of bright people through the years. Smart, accomplished professionals who really know their stuff. And yet, they somehow miss the mark. Sure, they do a good job overall, but there’s a missing piece in there that is hard to pin down.

Able to read the room? Sometimes.

Calm under pressure? Usually.

Demonstrating confidence? Uh, sure. 

So, what is that elusive element that separates the exceptional leaders from the ranks of so many managers?

 

Insight. Sometimes I call it being savvy. Either way, it’s a tough thing to teach young leaders, right? And it’s nearly impossible to up-skill mature leaders to build this into their style. Yet each of us could name an insightful and influential leader in our lives. 

What is it that made them different? And how can we take those behaviors and internalize them so we can be just as effective?

I’ll only offer the first step today. Humility. Once we move past pride and ego we gift ourselves the opportunity to grow immeasurably. Is there a better gift? Probably not.

Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a gift as we look ahead to being our best in 2023?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, October 31, 2022

Soul Hacker

I have a network of close friends who also happen to be in senior executive roles across the country. And they are dealing with a lot. 

A lot of stress. A lot of big decisions. A lot of isolation.  

Did you know executive life can be incredibly isolating? Think about it…if you are the CHRO you don’t have a peer colleague, really. Sure there are other executives, but they don’t see the world the way you do, nor do they have to manage the pressure the CHRO has to deal with. 

Work can literally erode your soul if you’re not careful.


So, is our work life a foregone losing enterprise and we need to simply hang on long enough to quit, retire, or get so frustrated that we try something new?

Hell no!

Now is your time to shine. Now is your time to bring the energy and creativity you’ve been holding back for so long. The crisis of the modern workplace is your opportunity to lead your organization’s transformation into the future.

Don’t believe me? Take a moment and think about the most influential leader you’ve ever worked with. Did they need a committee of people to inspire change? Did they need a five step internal review process to lay out their ideas and energize the leadership team to move forward? 

Of course they didn’t. You don’t either.

Today is your day. Get started.

Thanks for being here.

Jay

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Monday, October 24, 2022

What Do I Get?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what executive leadership is going through now that the world of work has so dramatically changed in such a short period of time. 

Are there elements of our pre-pandemic work life that have survived? Is the era of employee activism going to continue to flourish and completely reshape how organizations function; and candidly, how organized labor functions as well? Or, is this all just a collective recoil from the shock of so much change hitting at once?

That’s a lot to digest. And for today’s executives, that’s a lot to figure out quickly in order to not look irrelevant.

Irrelevant. Perhaps the most lethal word to describe a leader at any level.

There is another component to all of the talk about the new world of work. That is, what is the experience of today’s leader?

Is the job really worth it any longer?

If employees are dissatisfied on so many levels is there actually an opportunity to make a meaningful difference?


Let me say as strongly as possible: yes it is worth it!

Serving in a leadership capacity is one of the most challenging, rewarding, criticized, influential, burdensome and important roles in any organization.

How many of your colleagues “have all the answers” when it comes to how the company should be run? And, how many of them step up to take leadership roles and put themselves and their “ideas” to the test? 

Friends…precious few do this. It is far easier to attack from the safety of the sidelines than it is to step up and do your absolute best to lead the way.

What do I get as a leader? Just the greatest job of all.

Keep going. Your organization needs you.

Thanks for being here.

Jay

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Thursday, October 20, 2022

The Rules Have Changed

The world or work is in a full sprint. Digital dominates all communication, employee activism is exploding, expectations of all employees are shifting constantly, and the concerns about the economy are ever present.

So, are you still engaging your employees with an annual survey, pizza party, and branded stress ball?

Are you still saying “our culture is strong, we are in good shape?” 

Have you convinced yourself and your executive colleagues that the news headlines do not apply to you because your organization is “special?”

If this sounds like one of your executive team meetings I have some bad news for you.


The rules have changed about how work gets done…about how employees expect to be treated…and how you need to lead them.

Relying on pre-COVID engagement data, anecdotal feedback, or your long history of being “a great employer” simply no longer applies. 

Does that sound threatening? Are you offended? Good.

We all have to accept that we will never return to how things were prior to 2020. Candidly, I don’t think that is a bad thing. The changes that have taken place force leaders to elevate their game. No longer will a job title and some authority guarantee your influence matters. No longer will antiquated policies, practices, and language about corporate culture have a place in the workplace today.

The good news is that you now have a unique opportunity to differentiate yourself and your organization. The ball is in your court. What are you going to do next?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, October 17, 2022

Overextended

I’m overextended.

I believe that’s the polite, don’t make waves, low impact way to say that I’m feeling massively overwhelmed. 

And when I say overwhelmed, I mean drowning.

It’s mostly on the professional side. One way to look at it is that I’m a victim of my own success. Not in an arrogant way; rather, that the huge effort we’ve put in at my firm over the last couple of years is paying off. 

The demand for our services is at it’s highest point in our forty-three year history. The growth strategies we’ve worked on for so long are working. The client needs are significant.

Which leaves me woefully behind on the details, and so I’m only focusing on the most critical needs in front of me right now.

Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of only focusing on some of the work, even if it is the most important parts. It just doesn’t feel good.


So, is this just a “woe-is-me” story today? Nah. I’m more resilient than that. I’m being open about my current struggle for two reasons: 1) the NoExcusesHR community is incredibly supportive and creative; and 2) there might be someone else out there who is feeling similar pressure to what I’m feeling.

What’s next? My reality is that I’m going to be drowning for a while and I need to get (somewhat) comfortable with that…at least in the short-term. Quick pivots may work in the middle of a sporting event, but they are a fantasy in the business world.

Long-term however, I need a different approach to how I work (I’ve tried this quite unsuccessfully in the past.) Easier said than done, I know. 

Perhaps some of you have mastered the art of how to accomplish the big things and not obsess over the long list of little things?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, October 10, 2022

Witness

 I saw the struggles of the executives.

…but didn't want to over step.

I saw the struggles of the middle managers.

…but didn’t want to appear bossy.

I saw the struggles of the employees.

…but didn’t want them to think I was arrogant.

I saw the struggles of the customers.

…but didn’t want to risk moving out of my swim lane.

I saw the leadership team recycle the same old excuses.

…but didn’t want to risk my career.


So, what exactly was I “leading” again?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, October 3, 2022

Vulnerable Leadership

These words don’t sound compatible, do they? Vulnerable and leadership?

My corporate upbringing in leadership was based on having all the answers, not showing the personal side of my life, demonstrating my status as a subject matter expert, and above all else never showing my weaknesses.

Hmm, that didn’t age well.

I’ve been on somewhat of a vulnerability path in 2022. Professionally I’m open to new ideas, new opportunities and new strategies more than ever (which is really saying something.) Personally I’ve gone through more change this year than I can remember.

So, what is the thread that connects all of these massive shifts in my life? 

Getting (somewhat) comfortable with vulnerability.



For the record, getting to this point required a lot of work. Introspection, becoming more self-aware, and ultimately sharing the output of that effort with all of you is…well…really scary.

My non-stop self talk machine is forever questioning this shift to vulnerability. Will others think I’m weak? Will this compromise my career? Will I lose the respect of my friends and colleagues?

The answer to these questions has been a resounding, no!

In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. It turns out that showing the raw human side of me has opened conversations about the struggles we all face regardless of our success and scope of responsibility.

How do you handle being vulnerable? Is it something you’re starting to embrace; or, is it something that needs to stay deep inside for now?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, September 26, 2022

Constructive Dissent

Our workplaces are divided. You know that, right? Just like the rest of the country, our employees are split as well. Whether it’s 50/50 or 70/30 doesn’t really matter. What does matter however is what we do about it.

The mid-term elections will be upon us soon…and many of you are already being flooded with campaign attack ads. And just as you have your view on political, social, and other issues of the day, your employees do as well.

So, what are you going to do about it?

I’m not advocating that employers “take sides” per se. Some organizations feel strongly about certain issues and have every right to take a public stand. What I’m proposing is another option.


Create a messaging strategy that specifically acknowledges the differences that exist in your workplace, and simultaneously state that those diverse opinions are what make your organization great. Diversity of thought does not mean division. 

Diversity of thought can be leveraged as a powerful tool that builds your corporate culture in a safe, productive and inclusive way.

Saying this is one thing though, executing on an approach like this is far different. What does your internal comms plan look like? How are you engaging with your workforce? Are you using multiple channels? Are you preparing your leaders to confidently articulate your organization’s position…do they have the confidence to have difficult conversations?

Important questions that must be addressed as you develop your strategy.

Some of you may believe that simply remaining silent will keep your employees focused on the work they need to do and introducing this topic will simply create an unnecessary disruption.

Silence from leadership is always a failure. 

What do you think? Is it better to simply sweep the divisions in society under the proverbial corporate rug; or, is it time to leverage those divisions to your advantage?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, September 19, 2022

Energy

Energy. 

I thrive on it. I seem to have an endless supply of it, and simultaneously a ravenous appetite for more. Candidly, I sometimes feel that if I’m not in motion I am going to go crazy. Literally.

How is it that at this stage of my journey…I’m 55…that I rarely run out of energy? I’m not bragging here, in fact, the drive to keep moving, training, working out, moving some more can at times be a burden.

Yet here I am…going full speed again today.

There is also a restlessness that comes with it. A sense that I’m not accomplishing enough, not performing at a high enough level, not delivering in the best way possible. So, the energy level raises again and I go harder.



“Energy is what gets things done.” - Joula Thieves

There is more to this story though. That surge of energy that always seems to be flowing in me has powered my professional relationships for years. 

Energy attracts people. 

Energy inspires people to follow. 

Energy can also overwhelm the quiet, reserved thinkers who can’t quite get their message out (even when their message is a good one.)

Energy usually wins…or, at least I think it does.

I have much more to say about energy…that will happen later this year. For now, tell me about the role energy plays in your life?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, September 12, 2022

There’s Goodness Too

I’ve been writing a lot lately about fear, insecurity, emotions and self-doubt. Some of you may be wondering if I’ve slipped into some sort of abyss and can’t find my way out.

Nothing could further from the truth!

2022 has become one of the most incredible years of my life. Yes, massive changes have taken place for me, and more are soon to come (more on that later this year.) A result of those changes has been, candidly, a lot of work on myself.

I spent years compartmentalizing my emotions; justifying why I made decisions that were at times self-serving; and being so driven to achieve my goals that I frequently missed opportunities to be better.

Through a series of personal and professional realizations I’m seeing myself and the world differently…

…and it feels good!


The list of exciting things happening in this moment are too long to list. Personally I’m in a really good place. Professionally the world is wide open, moving fast, and filled with opportunities. There is even a little side project that has me really fired up!

All of this to say, it’s not all bad…not by a long shot. However integrating my very human struggles into how I think and work and worship and love and live…I hope…makes me a better person.

What’s good in your world? I’d love to know!

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Dark Moments

“…maturity is knowing that when your mood is down you should not trust the way you see yourself…”

Whoa. This one hit me. 

What is it about life that when we’re in a bit of a dark place our view of ourselves accelerates downward? Is there a natural tendency to go to the negative? Has society conditioned us to self-criticize and complain about how our lives are playing out?

I don’t like the way that feels.

In my professional life, as I suspect in yours, sometimes things don’t go as planned. That can be extremely frustrating. An upset client…a lost account…a colleague who is struggling to get the big picture. You get the point.

In those moments I often feel as if I’ve failed, that triggers my mood sinking, and the way I view myself follows suit.

Enter the Yung Pueblo quote.



So, it sounds pretty simple to just “not trust” that inner voice in our dark moments. However, isn’t that when that voice is the loudest? That makes ignoring all the more difficult. Maybe it’s only me?

Learning to trigger the “don’t trust” response is new for me…and I like the strategy to refocus my thoughts and energy. What works best for you when you’re down?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Monday, August 29, 2022

Rattled

Having it all together…that’s the goal, right? Looking like each of the exciting pieces of our lives fit perfectly together to portray the ideal vision of “how it should be done.”

Yeah, that’s not my life. 

Sure, I am blessed and can do some fun things. But to say “I have it all together” would be a stretch.

When I was younger…I didn’t know about the term imposter syndrome. I’m not entirely sure when it became a thing…however…it’s a real thing.

When I was early in my career…and suddenly found myself in roles that had significant authority I wondered (privately) if I was supposed to be there.

When I received one of my first major promotions…and was now the final word on HR matters at my organization I thought to myself “I don’t know what to do sometimes…what if everyone finds out?”

When my personal relationships flourished…and then failed I wondered if perhaps I was the problem and was destined for a full life…albeit one that was going to be a solo endeavor.

It all left me a bit rattled to say the least.

Now…I’m more in touch with who I am…with my strengths (I deserve to be here)…and who I need in my personal life.

Life is full of so much self-inflicted doubt and pain. I’m thankful that I’ve started to turn the corner and find my way.

Where are you in your journey?

Thanks for being here.

Jay

Monday, August 22, 2022

Now is Our Time

There is a long list of challenges for HR Executives to face lately. The world of work has completely turned upside down, and the pressure on today’s leaders is more intense than ever.

Yet, so many seem reticent to take that important ‘next step.’ So many need help. So many aren’t sure what to do.

Why?

The HR community is filled with bright minds, big thinkers, and those who know what the ideal future state for their organization should look like.

…and yet…for some…only limited real action.

How can this be in a world where the focus on contemporary people strategies has never been brighter. 

“It is literally our time to shine in HR. This is the moment we have all been waiting for.”

So I must ask…what are we actually waiting for? What more do we need to inspire us to take action…to take bold steps inside and outside our organizations…to massively impact change? 












Now is our time. Let’s not let it slip by…there are too many exciting things to achieve right now.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, August 15, 2022

Virtual Workplaces and Isolation

Working remotely has massive upsides…some of the time. It affords flexibility that is not typically available in traditional office settings. 

And that’s great…I guess.

I’ve been living a remote work life for more than seven years. Long before the pandemic and masks and paranoia.

The first five had me on the road so much it was as if I (kind of) still worked in a corporate setting, I simply commuted to work via Southwest Airlines.

Now, not so much. Fortunately travel is coming back (disclosure, I love business travel!) - and even though the airlines are struggling to handle the crush of passengers and limited staffing, I’m still grateful it is back.

For me, the human connection is critical. I’ve also realized I am far more effective when I’m around other people.

Isolation for me, has turned into somewhat of a productivity blocker and that doesn’t feel so good.


So, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I’ve made some purposeful decisions to counteract my current situation.

1. Get out of my condo every day. I now work from coffee shops around South Tampa as much as possible in order to be around other people.

2. Understand when I’m at my most productive. For me, it’s the first part of the day.  After 4-5 hours of focused work I need to shift gears and knock out less intensive tasks for a while to recharge before finishing the day strong.

3. Add business networking and personal coffee meet-ups to a day each week. These early “meetings” are a great way to stimulate my brain, engage with others in a thoughtful way, and get me fired up for the heavy workload I need to tackle.

How do you battle isolation? I’m always looking to learn new ways to improve how I manage my mental health, because the new wave of isolation is no joke.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


Monday, August 8, 2022

Take the Risk

I love this phrase. “Take the risk.”

It can apply to so many situations in our lives: careers, relationships, vulnerable moments with friends we trust, sharing pain, accepting hard truths and moving on…the list is endless.

When I think about the major career decisions I’ve made this phrase has been the driving force behind each of them. Sometimes it involved believing in myself enough that I went after that new ‘out of reach job’ and landed it. (That’s actually happened a few times.) 

In other circumstances the risk was implementing contemporary approaches to long-standing problems in the workplace. As we all know, it’s far easier to simply accept how things are instead of going head-on into those difficult places and making bold decisions.

It works, by the way.

When have you taken the risk? Did your action clearly demonstrate change for the better? Did you spend a lot of time in meetings talking about how things should be? Perhaps wondered how your life could be different? Or, maybe just got lost in the hectic pace of everyday life and let the opportunities slip away?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Highs and Lows

It would be nice if life moved along at a smooth pace. You know what I mean, mostly positive moments connected with the naturally occurring bumps, but nothing too dramatic.

But that’s not what 2022 has been for me.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced as many transitions, and the wild ride of emotions that follow those transitions, in any other year. You win, 2022. 

So, please stop now.

It’s been one thing to manage the transitions themselves…work pressure, so many responsibilities in all facets of life, many people relying on me, etc. That has been hard enough. When my emotions are layered on top…then add in personal relationships…the wild ride really kicks into overdrive.



The odd thing about 2022 is that I’ve had some amazing high points as well…including some playing out right now. Those are really exciting.

I’ve worked hard to manage my way to the mid-point of the year, but candidly, it hasn’t been easy.

Even though I feel like I’m winning, it still feels like a bit too much to handle sometimes. 

I wonder if any of you have felt this way?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Understanding How I Work and Live My Best

This Spring I decided to open my mind (for as much as that is possible) to understanding myself better. I’ve been trapped in self-inflicted stereotypes for a long time, and it was finally time to shed those insecurities and figure out how to fully maximize my whole self.

Whew, that’s a lot to think about…and do.

Work, which dominates my time has been an interesting analysis. I have peak productivity times, and I have times when I need to redirect my thinking and recharge so I can finish each day strong. The days of saying I go full power for 10 hours straight are gone. Why? Because my work suffered.

Workouts, which are a huge part of my non-work time have also been adjusted. Food intake, appropriate rest, and understanding that I can go much harder than my brain wants me to, have all improved my performance in the gym. You can too. Listen to your body, not your mind…it will quit on you long before you actually need to stop. My trainer has helped me understand this more than any article, video or “friend who really knows about exercise.”

Nutrition, which along with sleep are the foundations of our effectiveness at work and play are critical. My nutrition coach has made a huge difference in my life which is why he and I stay in contact every day.


As for relationships…well…that’s probably a post for another time.

The life puzzle that these pieces fit into shifts constantly and can be difficult to maintain…so it’s even more important that I focus and remain flexible. The results have been so positive for me.

How do you work best?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, July 18, 2022

Faith and Work

I've been an executive for a long time. I've had a deep faith much longer.

Yet for many years these two massive parts of my life ran in parallel.

Why? This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Sure, as an HR leader I got all caught up in political correctness to such an extreme that (for me) it became a bit embarrassing. 

Regardless of our faith pespective, do we really believe we can worship one day and then morph into some other person during the week and have that reconcile?

That's for each of us to answer privately.

I now openly talk about my faith, when appropriate; discuss how blessed I feel, not just quoting the #blessed hashtag; and make sure others know it is perfectly okay to discuss their faith with me regardless of their background or journey.

Is that wrong?

I don’t believe so.


My faith has pulled me through some dark periods (hopefully none of you noticed, because those are tough places to be, let alone when you're on public display.)

Where does your faith fit into your professional life? I hope you've made room.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, July 11, 2022

Practicing and Preaching

As the son of a United Methodist minister I am no stranger to preaching. As a human resources executive for many years I’ve done my share of preaching too.

But do my actions always match my words?

I’m afraid not.

“Take time to rest and recharge!” Nope.

“Take your PTO, it’s important!” Nope.

“Ask for help when you need it!” Nope.

“You can say no, it’s actually okay!” Nope.

Does any of this strike a chord with you; or, am I the only one struggling to reconcile what I know is best with what I actually do?




Maybe this sounds like I’m fishing for false praise as a “hard worker”…or that I’m trying to showcase that I’m a super-leader? That’s a BIG nope.

In this new era of my No Excuses blog I’m taking my own leadership to a deeper level. I’m holding myself accountable differently. And even though it’s a little awkward to open myself up publicly, I know I need to. Perhaps one of you struggles in the same way?

As I continue to challenge myself and improve my effectiveness in my work and personal life, calling myself out on important issues is essential. How do you challenge yourself?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

That’s Not Allowed

I’m often relied upon to be the one full of energy and enthusiasm. It’s a bit humbling to be honest. Imagine, others looking to you to be the spark that brings them back from a dark place; or, simply to be that constant stream of positivity?

That also does not leave much room to feel human myself.

This has become one of the many sources of pressure I feel. My friends, family and colleagues expect me to ‘always be on.’ 

When those moments come and I’m worn out or simply feeling low…and I let my guard down and allow it to show…it is immediately recognized and the questions follow.

Most of time I’m fine. Others, not so much. But I don’t want to feel compelled to discuss those moments with anyone. I know their concern is well intended, and it is greatly appreciated.

It’s an odd thing really. One of my greatest strengths that I enjoy and utilize constantly, becomes a major stressor in an instant.



In the end I’ve conditioned myself to quietly whisper in my head “that’s not allowed” when I’m not feeling myself. It’s just easier to showcase my acting skills than it is to answer a flurry of questions and have those around me wondering what is going on in my head.

I’m actually fine…I’m just experiencing a range of emotions…just like you do.

Thanks for being here.

Jay

 

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Friday, July 1, 2022

The Kindness Competency

There are lots of unwritten rules around leadership.

Don't be too political.

Don't be too religious.

Don't be too sensitive.

Just focus on business.

I'm not an advocate for that perspective (anymore.) We're all experiencing the massive divide in the United States across many fronts. The pandemic, and a series of extreme Presidents on either end of the spectrum have reinforced that division.

So, where does kindness fit in at work? Is it something that is embraced, but only as words on a formal statement but are never backed up in the culture?

Does kindness become a central value to the very core of what an organization is about, so much so that kindness is placed ahead of the product, service, or care that is provided to the customer?

Or, is kindness supposed to happen organically while "getting the work done?"



For me, positioning kindness as a core value might be the most transformative decision any employer could make during these turbulent times. Imagine holding all of the employees from CEO to entry level team member accountable to demonstrating kindness before all other work gets done? 

What would that corporate culture feel like?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, June 27, 2022

Is ‘Purpose’ A Real Thing?

Finding my purpose. That feels…heavy. 

Do I really need to identify my entire life’s purpose? Am I supposed to tell all of you about it? And, is that what I’m supposed to be doing as a career?

That feels like a lot of pressure. 

So, what does ‘purpose’ actually mean? Is it what I enjoy…or am skilled at…or what other people tell me I’m good at…or could it be something I’m really interested in but have no idea how to make happen?

Lots of questions.

More pressure.

Oh, and am I only allowed one purpose; or, can I have a bunch of purposes?

The reverse of this process is to allow my mind to wander to the things that I truly enjoy. What is most important to me, regardless of whether or not I’m ‘good’ at it or not? Does it matter if I’m effective following my purpose; or does it just matter that it’s important to me?




Maybe what matters most is that I continue to open my mind, challenge my thinking about things, and allow myself to learn and grow. That sounds like a pretty good purpose to me.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

My Great Balancing Failure

There are some things in my life that are so elusive that I’ve recently found myself giving up on any realistic opportunity to achieve them. One of the most elusive, and perhaps the one I’m most in need of is…

…balance.

There are many different types of balance of course: work, church, exercise, volunteering, friendships, significant-other relationships, family time, hobbies, and on and on.

Candidly, I don’t feel like I have balance in any of these areas. 

With so many books, articles and other blog posts available on this topic you would think that I had figured out a system that works best for me. 

But, no. 

My solution? Go full speed, most of the time, in everything.

And just to make things a bit more complicated…for some reason I have been blessed (or cursed) with massive amounts of energy.

So…I’m actually able to go full speed, most of the time, in everything.



Maybe I’m overthinking balance. Just maybe, balance, for me, is to do everything I possibly can, for as many people that I can, for as long as I can?

Am I on to something? Long-awaited clarity perhaps? Chasing balance may not be the goal…instead, embracing my full life might just be the answer.

What is that elusive thing for you? 

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Old Tapes

I've made a bit of a breakthrough over the last year or so. It had to do with my willingness to be honest with myself. I mean really honest.

I needed to overcome old tapes that kept playing in my head. Tapes that told me I was never going to measure up in my personal life. Tapes that said I wasn't good enough professionally to make a real difference. Tapes that said...you're just not who you think you are.

Well, those old tapes were wrong.

It took me a while to figure that out though. Whether it was imposter syndrome affecting me, or simply that endless self-talk we all have to manage that had gone astray. I finally started to transition those tapes out of my head. Not completely though...I'm not sure they will ever go away permanently.


The difference for me is a combination of faith, a commitment to my physical health, discipline around my nutrition, and reaching out to others. New friends...old friends...and allowing myself to be more vulnerable.

That last one is a bit scary, but I'm going with it anyway.

What tapes are playing in your head?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Friday, June 10, 2022

The HR Leadership Crisis / Opportunity

It’s easy to fall into the excuse trap that “the world of work has forever changed, so now we can all lean on that as a reason to do nothing” mindset.

That approach does not work for me.

Consider the possibilities in front of us as human resources executives to:

- build a strategic plan that aligns with your organization’s growth strategy

- build a contemporary talent acquisition strategy that accelerates your employer brand

- build a proactive engagement strategy that not only protects your culture, but moves it forward in ways you had not previously considered


Am I the only one who is fired up about the potential in front of us? I hope not.

Sure, there is pressure to build these plans. But for me, that is what leadership is all about. Embrace the pressure, seize the opportunity, and lead boldly.

Let’s make this happen.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, June 6, 2022

I'm Fine

Tough topic. My mental health. And some tough questions too.

Shouldn't I have a bigger circle of close friends?

Shouldn't I be more open?

Shouldn't I be able to handle the pressure I'm under?

Shouldn't it be easy to be available for everyone who needs me whenever they need me?

Shouldn't I be strong 24/7?

It's taken a long time to sort through these. Considering the answer to each of these questions is so short, you might assume it wasn't difficult to get to that answer.

Well, it was.

Finding ways to examine how I was feeling...really feeling...took time. More importantly it took courage (at least it did for me) to look at myself and say I couldn't handle it all sometimes.

That was really hard.

So I set out finding solutions instead of just suffering. I turned more heavily to my faith; I hired a personal trainer and a nutrition coach; and I even committed to getting out on the water regularly to just...

...be.

There are people things to figure out too...that's going to take some extra time.



Oh, and the answer to all of those questions? 

It was, and still is an emphatic 'no.'

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Thursday, June 2, 2022

Finding Me

Someone very close to me recently told me I needed to rediscover who I am. 

At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of that feedback. However, knowing it was sincere and said in a way that was thoughtful and caring, I knew I needed to allow myself to let that concept settle in.

So, how does one rediscover themself?

For me, this journey started with how I ended up "lost" in the first place. 

Was it a long marriage that ended in divorce? 

Was it a relationship from several years ago that just didn't quite work out?

Was it how I protected myself emotionally (despite being incredibly active with work, family, fitness, church, socializing, etc.)?

Answer: yes, to all of the above.

Wrapping my head around this has proven to be more difficult than I expected. As I'm writing, this feedback is still very fresh. 

Being vulnerable with others has not worked out for me very often. And thus, I close off emotionally even more. I bet you couldn't tell though. That probably needs to change, don't you think?


Rediscovering myself? I'm going to be very intentional about that...in fact, the process has already begun.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

New Beginnings

Hello friends.

It's been a really long time. I've needed the break. It feels like just about every part of my world has turned upside down since I was last writing consistently. I've missed the outlet...I've missed the No Excuses community...and I've missed the chance to...breathe.

Effective leadership is still my passion; however it's time to expand this platform to address other types of leadership in addition to our careers. 

What about our mental health?

What about our relationships?

What about our faith?

What about our passions outside of work that make such a dramatic impact in all facets of our lives?

The No Excuses philosophy applies to each of these areas just as effectively as it does to the workplace.

This is the path I feel called to explore. It may not resonate with you and that is okay. No Excuses has always been personal for me. You all have been incredibly kind to give it a read once in a while and offer your perspective and for that I am forever grateful.

So, here we go...new beginnings in a comfortable place. 

Thanks for being here.

Jay



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