Monday, December 28, 2015

The Scars Inside You (2015 edition)

Ahhh, the last week of the year. The haze of Christmas and holiday cheer is still strong, and the excitement for New Year's Eve is building. This week brings an odd set of thoughts and feelings that typically don't get much air time during the other fifty-one.

Good Riddance
One of the most popular comments this week is about how anxious people are to "get this year over with." The personal and professional challenges, changes, setbacks, or unrealized hopes come into view as we prepare to turn the page on the previous year.

The scars inside suddenly become quite public.

New You
The other theme of this week will be the promises to do all things better:
- work
- exercise
- eat clean(er)
- focus on 'what's important'

In some ways all of the New You talk is another version of what didn't go well the previous year; hence, our plan to fix everything about ourselves.

More scars from the inside, showing up on the outside.

How About You
I've been a member of the Good Riddance and New You clubs for as long as I can remember. In 2015 I experienced the most change that I've ever gone through personally and professionally.

What am I going to do next year? I'm going to focus on one thing. The negative self-talk about my failures won't help me. The extra pressure I put on myself to look a certain way physically isn't going to help me achieve my goals. The burden I feel to perform at a high level professionally can't truly help me be my best.

No, there is only one thing I need to focus on next year.

My attitude. 

The way I look at it...if my attitude is right, the rest will fall into place. 

Happy New Year friends!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, December 21, 2015

I'm Not Interested

I have a list of things that I absolutely love. Whether it's time with my kids, working out, traveling, rocking social media, my job, going to a concert, spending time with close friends, or speaking to groups of people to get them fired up...I can't get enough!

I also have a list of things that I am absolutely not interested in...

At all.

I'm Not Interested
- in listening to bigots justify their stupidity
- in spending time with mean people
- in working with leaders who manipulate organizations for their own personal gain
- in being associated with the 'good old boys club'
- in hearing excuses for why something can not be accomplished
- in following the crowd
- in doing things the way they've always been done
- in settling 
- in remaining quiet
- in losing at anything
- in being anything but the very best I can be

How About You
What should be added to my list?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Threat is Real

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be in leadership roles. More than that, I chose leadership roles...or they chose me...from a very early age. Full credit goes to my parents, both leaders in their professional lives who instilled that passion, and responsibility in me.

There was only one path for me.

Wanting vs Earning
Despite my desire to move as rapidly through the ranks as possible, I learned another lesson very quickly once I entered the workforce. Leadership opportunities are earned. They are not an entitlement...have little to do with academic background...and have absolutely nothing to do with a new generation promoting that they are different somehow. (tip: every generation is the same...we all want decent jobs, working for decent leaders, and to have some time for our personal lives too. Sorry to blow the cover on the myriad stories that shed 'insight' into Gen X, Y, Z, etc.)

So, the realization for me was that I became laser-focused on what was necessary to earn a leadership opportunity. 

Laser-focused...albeit in an unconventional way.

As I reflect back on the biggest challenges I faced along the way it is obvious they boiled down to one major category. It was clearly the most detrimental threat to my journey, and sadly continues to get in the way today.

What was this problem?

Me. I was the threat.

How About You
There is a fix for this persistent threat:  taking action. If I've learned anything over the years it is that I must continue to push, take risks, and recognize that I'm going to stumble (sometimes quite publicly) in order to overcome my own weaknesses.

We can't be good at everything, but we can constantly improve if we're willing to make decisions, learn, and continue moving forward. It's not easy though is it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 14, 2015


"The death of [leadership] is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."

- respect to Robert M. Hutchins for my edit

In Plain Sight
Take a moment and think about the leaders you work with who are failing. You know who they are. It's no surprise to you...or all of the others watching them flail about the conference rooms and hallways of your organization.

Their struggle is obvious to everyone...

...except them.

Yet we watch as if their failings are some sort of carnival side show. Entertainment for those of us who are so much better than they are.


Hard Conversations and Politics
In a perfect world we would pull these well intended yet embarrassingly off-base leaders aside and set them straight. We would ask questions so as not to insult them, but rather to help them see the harmful impact of their behavior on the workplace.

With no consequences.

But, alas...the world of work is rife with consequences. It's as if common sense is optional at work, yet posturing and grabbing as much power and control as possible is almost acceptable.


How About You
Who do you work with that desperately needs a candid feedback session about their odd-ball behavior? Is it safe for you to do so? For most of you, I'm guessing your corporate environment is anything but safe.


I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

As I Lay Dying

Have you every felt completely stuck in your work? You know the feeling...projects are not on track the way they should be...leaders are doing lots of talking but very little leading...and it looks like deadlines are going to be missed.

So many issues hitting all at once.

The Cycle of Doubt
I would be lying if I told you I didn't suffer from a cycle of doubt every once in a while. First comes a series of challenges that are quickly followed by the pressure and frustration of the work not being executed the way it should.

I hate that.

Next is that sense of desperation as the pieces seem to be spilling out everywhere without any coordinated plan that is actually being managed. Many leaders tout their own skill set, but very few actually execute effectively. 

Titles do not equal skills. Ever.

The Cycle of Success
Hitting a low point every once in while does have it's advantages, although I would prefer never to get there myself.

Renewed Focus
Sometimes we need to simply change the way we frame our desperate situation. Consider the low point you're feeling as the laser focus you needed to drive forward. The issues are focus exclusively on those issues. As you begin to resolve them one by one you will feel not only a sense of satisfaction, but a sense of real control.

Have you ever noticed that when things start to go well you feel even more enthusiastic about the work you're doing? Progress brings with it a new infusion of energy. Embrace that adrenaline rush and keep pushing.

Now it's time to leverage your focus and energy and build a reasonable plan...and for God's sake execute that plan.

As your hard work pays off be sure to recognize the results you and your team are achieving. Part of every plan should be a few moments to formally acknowledge the successes along the way.

How About You
You're not laying there dying. You are a beast. Get the hell up, dust yourself off, and go kick ass.


I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, December 7, 2015

The Lost Art of Leadership Savvy

I'm often asked about the work I do, the issues I deal with, and the tasks necessary for me to be successful. I run through my story and explain how cool my company is, and discuss some of the innovative work we do to support our clients.

But there is an essential component of the work I'm involved with that is very difficult to explain...

...the ability to demonstrate leadership savvy in the face of questions, challenges, or outright crisis.

In my twenty years in leadership roles I've identified a few key elements that can make or break both new and well tenured leaders.

Understand the Organization
This sounds absurd, right? How could someone in a leadership role not understand how the organization operates, generates revenue, and takes care of it's talent in the modern world? It is quite simple actually, and here's how I've seen it happen over and over again.

Bright leaders who specialize in a certain discipline (finance, accounting, information technology, human resources, nursing, operations, marketing, executive leadership, etc.) rise through the ranks based on their ability to lead their specialized scope of responsibility. 

What they fail to do is think across the enterprise and ask questions:
- How does my work impact the organization's ability to generate revenue?
- What is the current state of talent attraction and retention and what specifically do I need to do to ensure I support the organization?
- Do I consciously live the values of the organization and role model them 100% of the time to all of those employees that are watching  me as a leader?

Challenge yourself as a's what you're getting paid to do.

The savvy leader not only understands the organization, but is also courageous enough (yes, courageous) to be humble. This is where so many talented leaders fail miserably. 

They may say all the right things (or at least most of the time say the right things); however, their delivery is so poor, and their behavior often does not match their words.

Think for a moment about the leaders that dominate meetings, talk and talk and talk, and insist their view is the "right" one. 

Do they earn the respect of the team; or are there eye rolls, smirks behind their backs, and a sense of fear among their team that unless they comply there will be consequences?

"When the focus of the work is no longer about proving how valuable you are, and shifts to making everyone feel valuable and understanding all of the work being done...that is leadership savvy."

How About You
What steps are you taking to ensure you are a savvy leader? Are you quick thinking on your feet? Are you keenly aware of the negative energy in a room, and you understand what the real dynamics are that are playing out? Can you connect all of the drivers in an organization and understand how they fit together?

What about your colleagues who've lost their way? Have you had the hard conversation with them to help them get back on track? That's part of our job too, right?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

If I Could Be Anything

That’s easy, I would definitely be a...

Formula 1 driver...they have the best job because they influence so many people.

Singer in a metal band...they have the best job because they influence so many people.

Hollywood actor...they have the best job because they influence so many people.

Novelist...they have the best job because they influence so many people.

Talk show host…they have the best job because they influence so many people.

Famous composer…they have the best job because they influence so many people.

World leader...they have the best job because they influence so many people.

How About You
Wait a second, maybe I all ready have the best job? 

Maybe you do too?

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.