Thursday, April 5, 2018

Let's Create's the time of the INTANGIBLES

"The intangible represents the real power of the universe.  It is the seed of the tangible."  --Bruce Lee

Another year and another perspective of effective leadership.  Value creation, the leadership optic for 2018.  How do you add value: what value does your brand represent, how are your talents creating a valuable contribution, where do you create the most value in your organization?  These are some of the questions being asked of today’s talent.

Back in 2011 in an HBR article, "What is the theory of your firm" by Todd Zenger, the term value creation was defined as a process where “leaders must draw from available knowledge and prior experience to develop a cognitive, theoretical model of the landscape and then make an educated guess about where to find valuable configurations of capabilities, activities, and resources.”  In 2018, this would be considered a mouthful of words that would have little meaning to most leaders.  In the last 7 years, business transformed.  We have now simplified leadership to its basic core: What sets you aside from others in terms of the value you create [for your company]?

 To be effective in creating value, you must have a strategy. Most of us discuss strategies in terms of tangible effects.  Let’s talk intangible strategy.   Do you know what your highest performing talents are and do you know how to best apply those talents to get the greatest output?  While these may seem like simple questions, often this is where strategy conversations fail to go.  Let’s redefine the norm and discuss strategies in terms of intangible value versus tangible value. 

The POSITIVE THINKER sees the INVISIBLE, feels the INTANGIBLE, and achieves the IMPOSSIBLE. - Winston Churchill

Generally, today’s professional environment has become more knowledge and service based. Consequently, it is becoming harder to measure, or to know what to measure and understanding what is actually driving up value. In a study done in 1998, 80 percent of corporate value was associated with intangibles and only 20 percent with tangibles (Sullivan, 2000).  There continues to be a shift toward measuring intangibles.

What are intangibles?  Innovation, quality, customer relations, management capabilities, alliances, technology, brand value, employee relations, environmental and community issues are examples of intangibles that some are currently measuring. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY)’s studies have found that the one critically important dimension to gauge the promise and success of new business ventures is the underlying base of a company’s intangible assets.

Service was once a term used for companies that perform a service to the public.  Today, we measure service at every level in our organizations despite whether a person ever has interaction with the public.  Every level and every position in every company performs a service that impacts someone or something or that position would fail to exist.  With this mindset, it is easy to understand how important the intangibles could be to an organization’s health.
Image result for helping others pic

Each year my team and I measure all kinds of data.  How fast do we complete projects, how fast do we return phone calls, how flexible are we with redirecting energy to the newest thing of importance, what do our business partners think of our service, etc. The last one, what do our business partners think of our service is key.  The other points of data help us stay on track to deliver the highest level of intangible service,  however, it all comes down to how well are we interconnected to others and do those others believe we are delivering exceptional intangible service.  

Sending out a survey is easy, yet getting the results you desire on that survey is not.  Surveys on service level satisfaction should be used to obtain results that measure meaningful service satisfaction and, yes, it requires subjective input.  Subjectivity can be scary because we never really know how someone feels unless you ask them.  The scariest part is you might get a response that is not expected or in alignment with your own view of yourself. 

As a society are getting back into the soft skills.  Measuring intangibles consist of many variables that we cannot control. And this brings up a whole new emphasis on leadership vernacular.  Paradigms, trust, reputation, consistency, energy, integrity and humility are some of the terms that now factor into the equation for successful strategy outcomes and these intangibles are used to measure how well you are doing.

The old system where the person who is overly confident and gets things done through tangible measures wins out over the others is a fading model.  Sure, doing a lot is good….but remember the intangibles are what will sustain your success.  Balancing competence and humility will win out every time.  How do you add value?  

Next time you want to race your colleagues to the finish line….remember this quote…

"If you want to go fast, go along.  If you want to go far, go together." --African proverb

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Your Personal Footprint….does it lead others to an Awesome YOU?


How do you show up?  We all have a personal footprint—some call it a personal brand. We use our voice and actions through-out our life to create the life we live and in doing so we leave footprints of the person we are creating everywhere we go. Are the footprints of your life a representation of the life you dream for yourself? If not, reinvent yourself and recreate your story to be that life you want for yourself.

I like to think that the glass is both half empty and half full as is life.
Life is comprised of both ups and downs. 

We have all experienced ups and downs in our life. However you get to choose how to define them…it’s your story and nobody else can define your ups and downs. It is your own personal interpretation. Take the time to think about those things that you consider to be the downs of your life. These are typically the most important defining moments in your life….even if it didn’t feel like it at the time. There are lessons in every situation, and the bigger the down, the bigger and more impactful the lesson.  Try to think about the positives that came from those situations—these are the gifts that we were given that perhaps we didn’t accept as such at that moment….it is never too late to accept these gifts and often these gifts present themselves later once we have had time to reflect.

My story, like many of us, is riddled with ups and downs.  I come from a family that was very poor when I was young.  My parents had junior high school educations, and my father was an abusive alcoholic that preferred to run around with other women rather than acknowledge the family he had at home.  Needless to say, I realized later that my father gave me the gift being an example of what I did not want to be. I promised myself that that I would persevere through any challenges, I would get an education, always be loyal and keep my commitments to those that rely on me— I can and will persevere through anything as long as I don’t let the circumstances dictate my life. 

Challenged early in life when I became a teen mom and married at 17, I conjured up that vivid gift my father gave me…I persevered through the challenges and finished high school despite having a baby. Life was hard, but I went on to college and got a job that put mentors in my life that helped me see my potential.  I grew professionally….life wasn’t perfect, but I was making a difference and providing for my family. 

After nearly twenty years of marriage, my husband committed suicide and my job of 10 years went bankrupt and I was laid off.  I found myself a single mom, widowed and jobless with a mortgage to pay and two kids that were struggling with having their life turned upside down.  I relied on that gift of perseverance once again.  This time, I realized I had been given another gift… I was given the gift of grit.  My past experiences enabled me to have the ability to cope. At a time when life seemed to be falling apart around me, I had the strength to take on these challenges. And after a while….I was able to realize that my husband was now at peace from the torment that went on inside of him, and he gave me the gift of giving me back my life to recreate.

Anyone can reinvent's your story to write—we all have had hardships, but it is never too late to recreate your life. Life's challenges are what make us who we are. Accept the gifts from those difficult times and keep practicing living the life you want….practice makes perfect and leave mindful footprints of the story you are creating.
If you have never ran before, the first time you try to run a mile it is hard.  If you keep running, before you know it you can run two miles and it doesn’t seem so hard.  Life is like a bunch of one mile runs. Each challenge may be different, though you do get better at handling what life throws at you if you are mindful of the gifts they leave behind.  As life goes on, I continue to be challenged….I even found myself confined to a bed for four months with two broken legs….and I got a wonderful gift from that experience….the gift of perspective.  Your endurance will increase and you can get to climb higher after each challenge. Overtime you can go further easier….  if you keep yourself mindfully open to  these gifts and avoid pity parties. 

Today, my children have given me five beautiful grandchildren,  I have a wonderful career, three amazing afghan hounds, a man in my life who is my best friend, many good friends and I have gotten to see the world –all seven continents. I would say I have a very blessed life. AND I now get to help create pathways for others to live extraordinary lives….the greatest gift of paying it forward.

Start thinking of yourself as someone who is building your Life to be what you want it to be….what footprints are you leaving?   

Recreate your story. If you need help defining your story, I highly recommend reading Reinventing You by Dorie Clark.

       According to an AVG study, 92 percent of children under the age of two already have a digital footprint.
       The question is whether you choose to define your life or to let it be defined on your behalf.

Be authentic with yourself…a strong personal footprint can yield you an ROI of having a life of abundance. Let’s start with asking yourself some basic questions:

       What do you wish  people to associate with you when they think of you?
       What do you want to be perceived  an expert in or are there general qualities you want linked to you?
       Can you think of individuals who have created a personal footprint that is globally recognized that you can relate to? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Irwin, Mother Theresa.

Be purposeful in what you share and know your life’s purpose.  For example my life’s purpose (which took many many iterations before I could say it is truly my purpose) is “creating pathways for extraordinary lives”.

       Be strategic about your personal footprint—think about your values.
       Cultivating a strong personal footprint is just as much about being responsive to what is and is not being said about you as it is about creating intellectual property.
       Do you have a personal website or blog?  It helps to have word searches affiliated to your personal footprint. (create a blog like this one to connect yourself with others)
       Find ways to add value to your audience by creating content that’s in line with your brand.
       Leverage relationships that can elevate your strategic plan. (Hang around with people that influence you—it really does boost your ability to see farther faster.)
       Have a perrsonal symbolic montrawhat symbol do people relate to you?  For example, mine is a tree....Anyone who knows me knows my love of trees--especially an evergreen tree and it's meaning which to me is powerful.

                 Tree -- evergreen
                 1. persists and remains green throughout the year (perseverance)
                     2. perennially fresh or interesting; enduring; well liked (people person)
                     3. automatically renewed or repeatedly made valid (continuous learner)              

Audit your on line presence
       Google yourself and setup alerts for your name. Do you see what represents the You you are creating?  What do you do to ensure that it is?
       Update your social network accounts
       Keep photos current
       Highlight Your Recent Work: Self promote with recent pieces of work
       Be a thought leader: Share interesting content that relates to your interest or values

BE FEARLESS -- go and leave footprints of the YOU you want to create---its your life and you GET TO create it…..

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Keep on Keepin On

Failure is success if we learn from it --Malcolm Forbes

Often it takes many failures before there is success.  Keep on keeping on…though success may not come to you in the form that was originally envisioned,  if you persevere, there is a chance that success is on the other side of any failure—don’t be afraid to fail forward. 

Two examples of failing forward:
Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue, but was passed over for the editor-in-chief position. So she began designing wedding gowns at age 40 and today she is one of the world’s premier designers. 

As a child, Albert Einstein was labeled with a learning disorder. Einstein's communication and behavioral problems were not indicative of a lack of intelligence and he persisted through his disability. He went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the photoelectric effect, and his theory of relativity corrected the deficiencies of Newtonian physics.

Many of us want instant success and we are not willing to flex through the difficulties.  We are in an era where everyone gets a trophy and where our over righteousness gets in our way.  If nobody fails, then nobody wins and if nobody flexes to the possibilities there may be no wins and no successes. 

In leadership, many believe that being a leader is easy and that getting people to follow is even easier.  I don't care what colleges or universities teach on leadership; you don't learn how to be a leader in school. You learn it on the job by making mistakes and learning what works and what doesn't. Success starts with perseverance through the tough times, accepting other’s perceptions, being vulnerable and having an ability to flex to a new plan when things don’t go as planned.  A successful strategic planning process has an ongoing analysis of what's working and what isn't. 

However, in a society where entitlement and rectitude prevails, self-efficacy wanes and success becomes an insurmountable challenge of us against them. What could be learned from any failure instead becomes a missed opportunity of new knowledge and often a game of blame. The external locus of control thought process takes over…

 Locus of Control
Control, a word we fundamentally understand and know it as a necessary for success, yet we are often challenged when putting control into action.  Control can be defined as the power to influence or direct the behavior of others or the course of events.

Locus a word we may not be as familiar with is defined as a position, point or place. Hence, Locus of Control determines the environment of how we view our control… it may be internal or external.

Internal vs. External Locus of Control
People who base their success or failure on their own doing and feel they are in control of their life’s outcomes have an internal locus of control. In contrast, people who attribute their success or failure to outside influences have an external locus of control. In other words, how do you manage your accountability?

A simple example would be catching a cold.  One’s view may be I got that cold because of environmental factors that everyone around me is sick (external) or alternatively you may feel that you caught a cold because you have not been exercising regularly and/or not getting enough sleep (internal).  Generally speaking, we naturally lean one way or the other. However, if you lean too much towards external locus of control, you may not take enough accountability for the outcome and too much towards internal locus of control may not allow others to have accountability when they clearly own it.

What does this have to do with keep on keeping on and persevering through the difficult times? An understanding of how you manage accountability and your influence of the outcomes will help you to keep on keeping on.  If you are stuck in “it’s not my fault” mode, chances are you will not learn from the experience and your excuses will get in the way.  If you are stuck in “I don’t need anyone, I can do it all myself” mode, chances are your growth will be stunted…"if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go with others” --African proverb

Next time something doesn’t go right…don’t give up.  If you tend to be a person of external locus of control, flex a bit to your internal locus of control voice.  Take accountability and learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.  If you tend to be a person of internal locus of control, flex a bit and ask for help, heed the guidance and keep moving forward.
Be flexible and open to learning, know when to be accountable and maintain a heartfelt passion in everything you do….AND keep on keeping on….the gift of success awaits you!
“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” --Peter F. Drucker

My personal lesson--
Driving into work  it was pouring rain and once again I was going to be late— I knew I should have given myself more time, but I didn’t.  Hence, Los Angeles traffic was even slower than the usual slow allowing me to take in the environment around me. I passed a tent city and noticed that poking up from various tents were American flags.  I can only assume that these are flags of the forgotten vets.  At the same time, the inaugural speech was on the radio…and I realized, these folks, no matter how hard they may have it, still flex to the possibility that our great nation will remember them…their belief in this amazing country keeps them keeping on. There was a great lesson for me to learn here.  It made me ponder, have I been leaning too much on external locus of control—reasons of why I don’t have time to give back to my community in a meaningful way. I really have no excuse to not get out there and make a difference and do something meaningful that would help our forgotten Vets….I own this lack of accountability. 

AND that scene made me realize that real success comes from the heart and its time I take accountability and create success……

“Life is going to give you just what you put into it. Put your whole heart in everything you do” --Maya Angelou


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Exhilarating Rollercoaster Ride of Life and Leadership

As I go back over 2015 and look at my life, I realize that life is a ride. 

Have you ever been on a roller coaster?  Some find joy in the climb up the steep hill, living for the anticipation of or preparing for the challenge, others find plummeting from the top to the bottom exciting—they live in the moment…they are excited to be in the challenge. Which type of leader are you?
I started off 2015 bound through April to a bed with two broken legs, NO weight bearing allowed. I was challenged by total dependency and no bathroom, yes no shower or flushing toilet, for nearly four months. I was blessed in today’s world of telecommuting to be able to work from my bed. However, during that time I became a grandma to my little Macy May; I missed her birth as she was born in Colorado and I was in a bed in Los Angeles. I realized I missed the experiences in life. “Things” were unimportant and it became apparent that the more things I had the more complicated it made my life. After a slow introduction to using my legs again, I was ready to experience a world beyond the four walls of my Los Angeles living room.  I went from a crawl to rushing into hiking Machu Picchu in May.  The breathtaking beauty and total astonishment of the craftsmanship of an ancient tribe made me realize that there is so much to life besides things! I believed I was again living life and the all the experiences it has to offer.  I was living life in the moment; work was good, family was good and even my personal relationship jumped to a whole new level--I was elated. However, as quickly as I was elated, I was deflated by another horrific life changing experience. The lesson I surprisingly failed to remember was that life can change minute to minute….I was living the excitement of the ride down and was totally unprepared for the climb back to the top.  Life’s experiences are made up of both the peaks and the valleys. Just so I don’t leave you all hanging….I couldn’t change the horrific thing that happened, but I did decide to get my butt back on the ride and experience more of life’s challenges. And, I climbed even higher from another valley of opportunity to learn.  I ended the year on a peak by visiting Macy May and my little guy Neil in Colorado for Thanksgiving and my Jake and Luke in California for Christmas.  There is something joyous about experiencing holidays with little ones….ahhh such precious experiences and memory keepers!

As leaders we tend to ride through the good times, the peaks.  We may even crash at the bottom, the valleys, because for many of us that is when things seem exponentially tougher. The key is to keep momentum…not get stuck in the valley and don’t expect to always be on top.  Staying stuck in one position—no change—becomes dull and unexciting over time. There is nothing to be learned after a while. Life is meant to be lived through a continuum of change and experiences with lessons to be learned. The learning from every experience will be different from person to person, so it is not worth comparing yourself to someone else.  However, we can compare ourselves to our best self from a similar past experience.  Did you improve over that best self?  If not, is it possible you didn’t really “get” all that there was to learn?   Often, we jump to comparing ourselves to someone else…are you trying to be a better you or a better them? Life is going to throw us experiences that we don’t want. How you handle them is what makes those painful experiences manageable. 

As leaders, we are going to be expected to not only deal with the peaks and valleys of our own life, but knowing that many of those peaks and valleys are influenced by other people’s actions.  However, it is a trade-off, because you get to have an impact on the peaks and valleys of others too. What is not impacted by others is how we individually deal with our experiences—no matter what or how it happened and who did what. Regardless of what stage you are in the ride, the thing that matters most is your response to the situation; knowing when to prepare and knowing when to be present.  It is my view that this is the toughest part of leadership.  It’s complete accountability. How scary is that— regardless of whether an experience is in your comfort zone or not, you are completely accountable for your actions to those experiences.  We need to learn to deal with the climb up and the ride down on that roller coaster ride of life.

Here is an excerpt from a parable written by Spencer Johnson M.D., Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work For You—At Work and in Life. It is about the peaks and valleys of situational leadership.

“…He would imagine himself standing on the nearby peak. For a while, he felt better.  But the more he compared the peak to his valley, the worse he felt.  He spoke to his parents and friends about going to the peak. But they talked only about how difficult it was to reach the peak, and how comfortable it was to stay in the valley.  ...Sometimes he felt there might be a different way of life outside the valley, and he wanted to discover it for himself. Maybe on the peak he could gain a better view of the world.  But then doubt and fear crept in again, and he thought he would stay where he was.” 

If you stay where you are, you can never experience the joy and excitement of life.  If you play it safe and avoid the ride, how can you lead if you are not on the ride with the others? What new lessons do you learn if you don’t take a chance on new experiences? When life derails you, and it will, how do you react?  Change management and situational leadership keep you moving forward, offer you many opportunities to learn and most importantly, offer you new experiences—some lessons are meant to be learned others create memories to cherish.  Take accountability of your life. Remember, a fulfilled life is not about things; it’s about the experiences.

Not to make a decision is a decision and not taking risk is risky.Choice, not chance, determines one's destiny” --Unknown

Friday, August 28, 2015

So You want to be a leader? It’s a LIFESTYLE not a title—Find Yourself, Find a Leader

How many times have you felt like someone else is more fortunate or seems to get all the breaks? How many times have you said or thought about leaving your company because you weren’t promoted or elevated within the organization? Do you aspire to be a leader and feel you can do a good job of leading others?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, I then have one last question. How well do you lead yourself?

I had a history teacher that was an expert at WWII history—which I find fascinating, but his presentation was so monotone that he would put me to sleep during class.  I was not able to connect with him, he did not inspire me and, therefore, I was not engaged in his lectures. Did I sign up for any more of his classes no matter how much I liked the topic---heck no. He knew his material, but he lacked passion and connectedness. Effective Leaders need to be inspiring and they need to be able to connect at a higher level.  Passion and connectivity to your objectives are important elements in inspiring others to follow. It’s not a role you can randomly check in and out of. Have you ever disconnected from important objectives in your life?   

Many of us have the aspiration to lead, but are not even remotely aware of what it entails.  Being really good at a task or being a master of a certain skill does not mean you are ready to lead others…especially if you are not effectively leading yourself. You are probably just a really good task-master. What would make others inspired to follow you, if you yourself are not an effective leader of you.  

What makes an effective leader?  Let’s start with vulnerability. I recently attended a Tony Robbins event. I have been to many personal development seminars and have found them to be intellectually stimulating, but basically preaching more of what I knew simply said differently. This time was different.  There were moments that I knew I was being vulnerable in a way that I had never been before.  Vulnerability is scary, but it is also a powerful and authentic way to break through the stories you tell yourself—the stories that hold you back. You must be ready to lean in and work hard and be vulnerable to face those “stories” you have created as just that—stories you created. Accepting truths and connecting to the moment gives meaning to your life.

I pondered about my life’s purpose and I kept getting stuck.  I realized that tucked away I was feeling shamed by my past—leaving me feeling as though I’m not good enough. Though I am highly educated, I struggled with worthiness in both my professional and personal life. I was living my life based on who I thought I should be and not as who I am.

What I took away from the Tony Robbins experience was triggered by finding a sense of gratitude.  I found that there is good in every situation. That sounds so simple, and at that moment it was so profound.  There is something to the saying “when the student is ready the teacher will come”—Buddha.   

My father was a full-fledged drunk with the inability to care for himself, no less children, yet he taught me a lifestyle to avoid; I learned to be grateful for this gift. My late husband committed suicide leaving a note of displaced anger/pain; I learned to be grateful for his peace and the gift that he gave me back my life to live and the opportunity to create a new beginning. I found that the baby in my baby picture grew up to be an adult who has no memory before the age of 8, was probably not loved in the traditional way and my mom was in survival mode; l am grateful to realize that it is never too late to love that baby-- I took her into my heart and now hold her close, reminding her each day that she is loved.

Some simple skills to remember to keep your passion alive and to keep you connected to your objective and others:

  •  love yourself and put the stories and the little voice in your head to rest
  • be vulnerable
  • find your passion, find your purpose; align your actions to your purpose
  • follow your heart; if the task is more enjoyable, you will likely put more thought and effort behind it
  • make honest and ethical behavior a key value
  • clearly and succinctly describe what you want to accomplish--if you can relate to your vision, your goal will be met
  • make it a point to talk about it out loud on a daily basis, and you will elevate your passion
  • constantly find the humor in the struggles, and your environment will become a happy and healthy space
  • keep up your confidence level, and understand that setbacks are natural-- the important thing is to stay focused on the larger goal
  • keep motivated--there is no greater motivation than being down in the trenches "doing"
  • stay steadfast to your commitment-- not only to the task at hand, but also to your promises you make to yourself
  • keep the mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness
  • be flexible--you may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision--this is where your creativity will prove to be vital
  • keep your spirits up and that begins with a regular acknowledgement for the hard work completed
  • tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers--earning to trust yourself is as important as others trusting you
  • if you are feeling happy and upbeat, the result will be a devotion to best efforts

Vulnerability is a powerful tool. It is a tool that allows the space for gratitude, building trust and finding one’s purpose in life.  Being vulnerable opens the door to sudden transformation….and the possibility of being a successful leader. 
Transforming into a leader:

Emotional intelligence is a tool that plays well together with vulnerability. How many times have we heard that employees don’t leave their company; they leave their boss.  Often the leader is not aware of the impact that he/she has on others.  I recently read this book “No One Understands You and What to Do About It” by Heidi Grant.  Often we don’t think we are hard to understand; its because we see others through our own inadequacies. Everyone sees through a different lens.  Ask anyone what they think about a particular car and you will get all kinds of different views, despite that they are all speaking about the same car.  Varying perceptions occur when it comes to people as well.   

We can’t always predict what impression we are making on another person because there are simply too many variables in play. We are all affected by the primacy effect and we all have biases…yes we all do!  Perceivers aren’t necessarily willfully putting blinders on; they just don’t see what you see at that moment or ever. Often our ego lens also gets in the way, we feel threatened and BAM!!—a negative perception is formed. However, we can have greater self-awareness, empathy and flexibility to increase our effectiveness as a leader.   

Leaders who tend to form an “us” and not a “them” environment are trusted. Hence, starting with being vulnerable, finding your passion, and being happy in what you are doing will make it that much easier to lead with emotional intelligence, be trusted, and be followed ….making you a leader of both your life those who choose to follow you.