Purpose driven. Are you?

It sure sounds noble when you are authentically able to tell someone that the type of work you are doing is either allowing you to satisfy your quest to be working on or towards a purpose. Or, seeking out what your actual purpose is. To me, this almost sounds mystical, or perhaps a bit surreal. Possibly too good to be true?

Whether someone is actually working on their purpose driven career or volunteering their time to apply it towards a cause they believe in, I think they are fortunate to feel this way. More importantly, to actively be doing something which allows them to tangibly achieve this.

Perhaps they are helping others in a variety of different methods of doing so, or they are lending their precious time to teach another person how to become better at something. It could really be a number of different scenarios which someone could associate with having a purpose driven situation.

Is there a specific time period on a person’s life when they feel they are more purpose driven?  Possibly, but they might also feel this way throughout their entire career or life, or during blocks of time over numerous decades. The point is that being a purpose-oriented person does not mean you have to dedicate your entire life or career to being this way. However, there are certainly people we can name who choose to be purpose driven throughout their career and life. Someone such as the Dali Lama comes to mind. Companies such as Patagonia and Riverford Organic Farmers are outwardly focused on who they serve, and what good they can apply to society via the services or products they have to offer.

When I was starting out in my career, I worked for Staples the Office Superstore. What I liked about their business model was that they were attempting to re-engineer the office supply industry. Staples did this because they realized that consumers were being taken advantage of, and had been paying ridiculous pricing for all of their standard office supplies. Prices in fact that were embarrassingly high, and in some cases absurd.

At the time when Staples founders Tom Stemberg and Leo Kahn set-out to retool this industry, they did so based on finding a market segment that had been exploiting consumers for decades. Both sadly and ironically, many of these stores were locally owned stores that were servicing the small to medium sized business markets. Occasionally larger companies, but those were mainly being serviced by companies such as WB Mason.

My point is that when I first started working at Staples in their headquarters office in Newton, MA, I felt that the company had a mission and purpose I could feel good about. I felt that they were like the modern-day version of your favorite childhood story correcting a situation of the “little business owner” being taken advantage of. Better yet, giving them an actual fighting chance to compete, based on the fact they were not having to allocate such high dollar amounts to purchasing their office supplies and equipment.

I can’t honestly tell you that I intentionally went to work for Staples due to the noble and purpose driven approach they embodied, but I was fortunate to learn about this concept early on in my career. In fact, it significantly altered the course of my career from that point on, but more so in the past decade when I became more reflective on the importance of being purpose driven. Yes, on a daily and regular basis.

If you are curious about how you can orient yourself to being more purpose driven either personally or professionally, I have some suggestions for you to consider to accomplish heading in this direction.

  • What is truly important to you? Is it your health, family, the environment? Start with recognizing what this is. It should be obvious, but perhaps not, if you have not taken the time to contemplate this before.
  • Once you identify what is important to you, do you have the skills, or a particular skill that will lend itself well to help you to work towards either finding a company, career or volunteer opportunity to align with?
  • Have you considered how you will feel differently when you are focusing your time and attention on being purpose driven?
  • Are there perhaps clues from your past of activities you have been involved with, or people who you know who inspired and brought out the purpose driven mentality in you?
  • If you have to list 2-5 things you are truly passionate about, what would they be? Are they things or activities, or people you regularly are involved with, or on a periodic basis?
  • When was the last time you felt that you were in 100% alignment with any kind of purpose? Is it possible you have not figured out what your purpose is yet?
  • Let’s assume you know what your best talents are. Are you using them in diversified ways, or only for a singular type of career or in your personal life some way?
  • If you were to architect your perfect day, what would it look like? Have you ever stopped to consider what this day might include you doing or who or where you would be on this day? Some of your answers might also provide insight into what would be drivers in seeking your purpose.

Everyone has a purpose. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to figure out what their purpose is early on in life. I challenge you to do this. Don’t worry about how long it might take to do this, or how difficult it might be to do so. When you figure out what your purpose is, it will be worth every ounce of energy your expended to do so. I guarantee this, and welcome you to reach out to me to discuss how I can help you to find your purpose.

TAGS: #Purpose #Purposefulthinking #Inspiration #Mentoring #Leadership #Coaching #Business #Success #Purposedriven #Findyourpurpose #Findingmypurpose #Howtofindmypurpose

Reflection – the advantage of it in business, sports & managing others

For those of you who are also Brene Brown fans, you will appreciate what I will be sharing with you, as the context of what I will be revealing to you is based on over countless hours of research I have been doing during the last year. Most people are not aware of the fact I was working on this project, but it is one of the most gratifying projects I have worked on.

So, who and what was I researching? I have been interviewing sports coaches around the country, and added a coach from South Africa to the mix a few weeks ago. The coaches cover over a dozen different sports, are a mix of women and men, and they are coaching at the Professional (e.g., NFL, NBA, MLL, USTA), Olympic, College and High School levels. On average, the coaches have been in their role for a decade, and they represent a significant enough amount of States.

I am still conducting my research, but I recently analyzed the results from the coaches I have already spoken to. If I were to summarize what I am attempting to determine via this research is the coaches “why”. In other words, “why do they coach?”

If you happen to be a coach or perhaps a leader in the business world who is reading this, I guarantee you would agree that coaches and leaders share numerous characteristics. One of them is the reason why they enjoy leading others. Yes, you might be surprised by the majority of their responses, but the title of this article also provides you with a large clue about the direction the research outcome is heading.

As you are aware, the process of reflection is something that takes time. Time to devote to going through the process of being reflective, and also having a reason to do so.

Most surprisingly was the fact that the majority of the coaches had not taken the time to reflect upon or verbally convey their “why” they coach others. However, after sharing their “why” with me, all of them said they were pleasantly surprised they had not gone through this experience before, as they found it to be both therapeutic and paid tribute to all of the years they have devoted to coaching.

One of the words I repeatably heard from coaches was that coaching is similar to a “calling”. It was something they felt compelled they needed to do. Others articulated that they became a coach because of the experience and incredible life lessons they gained from their coaches, and they wanted to give this “gift” back to others.

Since being reflective does require you take time to capitalize on the advantages of doing so, why don’t more people do this? Especially leaders, people managing others and of course coaches too? It seems simple enough to do. However, it also requires being able to ask the right questions to be able to get to the deepest level possible of response reflection. It’s when you reach the true depths of being highly reflective, that you gain the positive attributes from doing so.

If you are curious about who you could be more reflective, or perhaps help someone else to be this way, I have included some suggestions below about how to accomplish doing this.

  • Simon Sinek is the person attributed to having people think about what their “why” is. Someone’s why can be associated with any number of different questions, but for the sake of this article, let’s have it focus on the aspect of “why” you lead, manage, mentor, or coach (e.g., sports) others? Take a few moments to write down, or think about why you do this.
  • After you have thought about or crafted your “why” relating to the point above, consider whether you want to share this information with someone else? Perhaps your team?
  • Factor in the benefits of others knowing and appreciating what your “why” is from having reflected upon thinking about this. Can you name what they are?
  • Consider the reasons you might not have taken the time to be reflective. Were you concerned that if you did this, that it would be a negative or positive experience?
  • Can you help someone else to take advantage of the powers of being reflective in their leadership, management or sports coach role?

I’m still looking for Sports Coaches to interview, so if you fall into one of the categories I noted that meet the criteria for me to be interviewed, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

What will you get out of this? I’ll be sharing the results of my Sports Coach Research Project with all of the Sports Coaches who participated. The coaches will gain new insights from other coaches, and can potentially apply them to their team to benefit from too. Keep in mind, many of these coaches are well known for their winning records, but more importantly, for being the type of coach that every athlete desires to be coached by.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #SportsCoaches #Management #Success #Reflection #Theadvantagesofbeingreflective #Business #Sports #SportsCoachResearchProject #Athlete #Athletes #BreneBrown

Influence. How’s yours?

There are some skills we possess which can take years to master. Having influence can be one of them, but there are people who are more naturally inclined to excel with having it than others. The people who are comfortable with possessing influence as one of their skills don’t always maximize their use of it. However, the ones that do, and leverage it for the greater good of our society really stand out.  

The list of people in our global society that I admire and who have appealing influence are ones who apply their skill to help others on a regular basis. Often unselfishly, and most of these people are not household brand names. They are the people we have in our lives who regularly apply their influence in both creative and beneficial means with the intent for others to benefit from.

Examples of the type of influence I am considering include people who are amazing at organizing others to rally for positive causes. Both locally and beyond their region when it makes sense to do so. Think of community gardens so food is truly local, beekeeping to help veterans with PTSD and causes which awaken us to becoming more socially and environmentally conscious. All of this occurring while we are individually considering how we can leverage our natural resources better. Even better, while also assisting others in need on a more regular basis.

Another example which comes to mind are the influencers who called out the inequities of education, and who looked for solutions to address this as another challenge the Pandemic exacerbated. They were able to clearly showcase how not everyone had a “level-playing-field” when it came time to home school their children. Yes, we knew this prior to Covid, but because of having to home school for a long period of time, young people without the right home-schooling infrastructure were put at a greater risk of falling behind educationally. Based on research, we know what occurs when this happens, unless the situation is addressed.

During the early days of the Pandemic in 2020, there were people I saw in the news who were rallying and coordinating others in their community to help people who were also “food insecure”. Unfortunately, we also know that food insecurity isn’t a Pandemic only challenge. However, the Pandemic certainly put a brighter spotlight on this situation to be addressed both locally and in every state in the country. One of the outcomes influencers had in this area was to attempt to change the mindset of people in their community. To actually seriously take the position of considering everyone as our neighbor and to help those in need. No exceptions.

Having worked in the technology industry for decades, I saw the type of influence leaders could have on both those they lead, and the customers who were the early adopters of the technology solutions we were promoting. As a former marketing professional, I also saw early in my career the way that public relations could shape the thinking of those we were targeting our communications to. Depending on how influential our messaging was, and whether we were able to impact influential press members about our solution as the one they would write about, played a significant role in the initial success of a product or service.

It was eye opening for me to see how powerful the right influence can shape the outcome and trajectory of your success. Granted we know strong first impressions are critical with your ability to influence others, but sometimes you might have an opportunity to circle back and make a second attempt of getting your influence pointed in the right direction. Not always, so it’s critical to be strategic with your thinking and influence execution.

If you are wondering what you can do to either enhance your influence, or begin heading in a direction to positively influence others, below are some suggestions about how to do this.

  • Authentically consider something you are passionate about. If you are not truly passionate about something, your ability to truly be influential will be reduced.
  • Are you comfortable with having your opinion be known? When you set out to influence others, you are going to need to be ready to potentially confront both verbal and written criticism. In other words, having a “thick skin” can be beneficial, but it is not a requirement.
  • It takes energy to influence others. Ask yourself if you truly have the energy it will take to follow through with your plans to be influential.
  • Being consistent with your messaging and actions are going to be critical components to your influence having the impact you want it to have. Can you commit to being consistent and ensure your messaging is going to work for you and others?
  • Is there someone you admire and can approach about how they became an influential person?
  • After identifying at least one person who is influencing people or causes in the manner you are comfortable with, ask them if you can have them help to instruct you on the area you are interested in being known for or influencing.
  • Not everyone feels comfortable taking on the role of influencing others or causes. However, influencing others doesn’t always mean you have to do this for long stretches of time. There may be situations that are more like influential sprints versus marathons.
  • Always factor in how you envision the outcome of your influence. This will make it easier to rally others when you are describing what you are accomplishing to do, and for them to determine if they can also get behind and support what you are attempting to influence.

Like a coin, influence has two sides. Make sure the influence you are choosing to have is on the side you are proud of representing. Otherwise, living with knowing your influence either doesn’t have the best intentions, or can be harmful to others is something you will have to wrap your conscious around. If your influence can have a positive impact on others, I see this as one of the best gifts we can give to one another.  Cheers to making this happen.

TAGS: #Influence #PositiveInfluence #Leadership #Management #Howtopositivelyinfluenceothers #RoleModel #PositiveSociety

Need a crystal ball?

Many people right now are more focused on the future than they have been. For some, the future always seemed to present a clear path forward. However, right now, we are living at a time when at best, our current future is in a state of limbo, or perhaps as clear as mud.

Uncertainty can evoke a heightened sense of anxiety, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, the present time with our future outlook in the state it is presents us with an opportunity. An opportunity to reframe, reconsider and reimagine how we would like our future to be shaped. The fact most people in the US are in some form quarantine right now, allows us to have contemplative time we do not ordinarily have.

I have always been fascinated with people who are classified as futurists, as they mesmerize me with the way they describe the “what if” or “what could be” happening in the future.  I’m not a futurist, but have been often classified as a “creative” or “muse”. Coming from a lineage of inventors and creatives in my family, I am using the downtime I have now to retool a number of things in my life. I consider this time a great gift, and one that I encourage others to perceive as well.

Yes, many people right now are clearly suffering. Statistically around twenty-five percent of our country has lost their job. Neither of these are experiences people normally want to have. However, having a different perspective on what is happening to all of us collectively right now, as a society is one of the gifts this time period is bestowing upon us.

It’s easy to be negative during times of despair. However, this is precisely the time when we all need to dig a little deeper, with the intent of finding the “silver lining” we can all benefit from seeing.

If you are struggling to imagine how your life could be better right now, given the fact you might be in a situation you never imagined being in, here are some suggestions on how to take back some control in your life.

  • Although most of us are not allowed to go anywhere except for the grocery store and pharmacy, it doesn’t mean we can’t go anywhere. Or, perhaps not physically. However, it does mean if you have internet access, there are amazing websites that offer ways for you to experience virtually what they have to offer. As an example, here is a link to twelve virtual museum tours https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
  • I don’t have any musical talent, but many people do. If you do, consider sharing your gift of being musical with others by inviting them to a virtual “concert”. Starring you! Don’t forget to invite me please.
  • A number of people have talents that lend themselves well to sharing with others (e.g., drawing, painting, DJing, cooking, sewing, code writing, wood working, sculpting, physical fitness instruction, repairing things). This list could be an enormous one, so I’m asking you to consider how you can share your talents with others. Although I don’t consider my writing to be a special talent, I do consider it something I can at least share with others.
  • Many people are living alone right now. Consider giving them a call, or perhaps Zooming with them for a virtual chat to engage with them socially. Both parties will gain enormous benefit from this. Make a list of people you can queue up with each week to do this, and consider doing this even when we are not quarantined.
  • If you are someone who has been called a “futurist”, consider sharing your outlook with the rest of us who would love to hear about how you are perceiving our future to be shaping up.
  • If you are not an organized person, this is the perfect time to take back some control in your life. I literally started with the top drawer in my bedroom dresser. I liked the results so much, that I continued to organize the rest of my drawers. Now I love opening up the drawers and seeing how organized everything looks!
  • Reach out to people on LinkedIn, or in any of your social networks that you have always wanted to reach out to. It could be for the purposes of learning more about the career they are in, or to plant the seed to connect again with them once our world gets back to our “new normal”, and we are all back at work.
  • Although you may have lost your job, there are still many people who are working. Ask them how you can help them and offer to do something for them with the extra time you have, especially people working on the “front lines” of our pandemic. It could be offering to go shopping for them, walk their dog or make something for them.
  • Think about your future differently. You have the time to do that right now. Write down, draw or talk to someone about how you would like to reshape or head the direction of your future in. You have nothing to lose doing this, and possibly everything to gain.
  • Take time to let others in your life know that you appreciate them. Write them a note, tell them, send them a video expressing how you feel positively about them. Yes, they will appreciate you doing this, and you could start a positive chain reaction and be the example for others to do this too.

We can all use a dose of positivity in our lives right now. Despite the fact many people’s circumstances may appear to be bleak, I can assure you this situation is only temporary, and we will at some point be back to a place where this time is a distant memory. Make the best use of the time you have right now. I know I’m trying to do so, so please join me in doing that too.  

 Tags: #pandemic #optimism #inspiration #business #hope #motivation #leadership #quarantined #imagination #future #crystalball

How are your people management skills?

Thinking back to the first time I was responsible for managing someone, I remember feeling a tremendous sense of being the best boss possible boss I could be. This of course was despite my limited experience in this area. However, when I factored in thinking about the myriad of opportunities to practice managing someone, while being the boss, it became less of an intimidating situation. Perhaps for both of us.

Fast forward in time close to thirty years since having first managed the person I was referring to. The fact I recently heard from this person after three decades was an incredible moment, and not one I expected to occur. What was even more surprising was the fact this person sent me a thank you note for being their boss! It goes to show you there is no time limit on thanking someone, and this is a topic I have previously written about.

In the note from the person I first managed, they shared with me that I was a highly supportive and nurturing boss, and that they were surprised I took a chance on hiring them. They also commented on how hiring them changed their life, and influenced the career direction they ended up pursuing. I never knew any of these facts until recently. My point is that even when I was a freshly minted boss, it was possible to have a positive impact on managing someone and their career.

Until I received the email via a LinkedIn message from this person, I had not considered how early in my career my people management skills would continue to be an asset to both me, and the people I have had the responsibility and honor of managing. Being completely honest, there were times when I recall managing this person that I was unsure of whether I was able to properly guide them. However, each time I felt that way, I had a conversation with myself to remind me that managing someone is actually a two-way process. This made me feel much better when I acknowledged that I was only half of the equation and the outcome results.

When I stopped to consider where I sourced my own people management skills from, I would have to say some of them were modeled by my parents. For the first five to six years of my career, I also learned through observing my bosses how to manage others. Of course, some of my bosses were far better at people management skills than others. Understanding both optimal and sub optimal ways of applying or learning these skills will serve you equally well.

Below are some of my acquired and own methods for how to improve your people management skills.

  • This can apply to both work and life situations, and is a foundational piece of advice to launch from. I know you have heard this before, but it’s not always practiced as well as it should be. Without exception, always treat the person you are managing the way you would want to be treated.
  • People are constantly surprising us with what they do and say. Sometimes this is a positive experience, but if it’s not, consider asking the person “Why did they do or say what they did?” When you ask someone to provide insight to better understand their behavior, it generally offers a teachable moment for you to help them see how they could have handled the situation differently.
  • How often do you praise someone? Often times managers neglect considering how a simple thank you, or positive acknowledgment of a small accomplishment can make someone’s day.
  • Have you considered what adjectives people would use to describe your human engagement skills? Sometimes our perceptions are quite different than the reality of how we are appearing to interact with others. Chances are if this is the case, you may not be aware that this is an area for course correction. If this is a problem area for you, it could also be why you have not, or might not advance into upper management roles.
  • Consider what you have done either in the past, or recently to improve your people management skills. Have you proactively worked on being self-aware of the importance of doing this?
  • Think about people who you would classify as having naturally gifted abilities in managing other people well. Is it possible for you to be mentored by them? Remember the importance of having a mentor, and this applies to all stages of your career. 
  • There are tremendous benefits granted to those who master being highly skilled people managers. They are often fast tracked in their careers, are more satisfied professionally with their roles, have a larger professional network to tap into when they need to do so, and are considered for roles over other people who might be more qualified technically, but are lacking in their human management skills.

This is a rich and ever evolving topic. It is also a subject that you will always benefit from any investment you make in yourself to improve how you interact with others, either personally or professionally.

Tags: #Success #Mentorship #PeopleManagementSkills #Business #Howtodevelopyourpeoplemanagementskills #Business #Sales #Management #Leadership #HumanResources #HumanCapital #Tipsonhowtoimprovepeoplemanagementskills #Strategy

Being friendly. Are you really?

I’m sure many of you have experienced the passing of one of your furry loved ones. Our furry loved one passed away this week. His name was Ollie, and he was a nine-year-old Goldendoodle. Ollie was by my side the majority of any day. Family, friends and clients all knew about Ollie and his many entertaining idiosyncrasies. My favorite one was his ability to walk upstairs backwards, and yes, we have this on video.  

Never did I imagine how gut wrenchingly sad I would feel after Ollie passed. Of course, the reality is I didn’t ever want to think about this day happening. Who would?

As I was reflecting on Ollie’s life, I thought about one of the aspects of his personality that was so endearing. It was the fact he was always happy, and happy to see you. Even if he just saw you five minutes ago and you left the room and came back. He also knew when you needed to be cheered up, and precisely how to do so. This is a remarkable quality that he had, and I realize many other dogs, and some others pets do too.

To say that I am going to miss Ollie would be a gross understatement, and yet, at the same time, I remind myself about how fortunate I was to have him in my life. Not everyone has had the opportunity to experience what it is like to have a pet in their lives that makes them feel the pure joy and love they bestow upon you. However, I wish everyone could have this experience.

Switching gears and refocusing our attention back on the question I posed about whether you are a friendly person, do you know if you truly are one? Perhaps you have been told by others that you are? Or, maybe you think you are, but this hasn’t been overtly confirmed by many others. At least not verbally.

Let’s face it. We know that not everyone is in fact friendly, and I’m sure we could also agree upon the fact there are various levels of being this way. One of the things I often consider as it relates to whether people are friendly, is whether this is a trait that we are born with? Or, perhaps one that we develop as an attribute of our personality as it evolves?

Focusing on yourself, think back to when you were a pre-teen. Do you have memories of being a friendly person? Yes, I will acknowledge its possible people’s circumstances in life may in fact interfere with them being as friendly as they could, but let’s take this out of the measurement equation.

According to some research I did, there have been studies which set out to determine if you could measure a person’s level of friendliness. In fact, there was a study done in the early 1980’s by J.M. Reisman called SACRAL, and it was designed to interpret and measure people’s level of friendliness. It included a 40-item questionnaire that both college students and children participated in.

The net result of the SACRAL study was that the majority of people rated themselves as friendly. However, the scores suggested otherwise, and that not everyone is in fact friendly. This isn’t earth shattering news, but was interesting to know there is a methodology to rate and interpret people’s level of friendliness.

Although I did seek to find more recent studies about measuring friendliness, there didn’t appear to be much data. So, I looked further back in time, and found another study published in 1968. It was conducted by Karl B. Zucker and Daniel C. Jordan, and was called “The Paired Hands Test: A technique for measuring friendliness”. According to what I read, this test is still considered to be a quick, objective and easily administered technique to reliably and with validity be used as a friendliness measurement tool.

Now that we know there are in fact tools to measure friendliness, below are some other ways you can determine if you, or others you know, or encounter are friendly.

  • Are you naturally curious about others, and when you meet them, do you truly ask them questions that allow you to get to know them better? Hint. If you are friendly, you would do this on a regular basis.
  • Although not everyone may feel their sixth sense or intuition is fully operational at all times, the majority of people can sense whether another person is friendly by both their body and verbal language. In other words, we might refer to someone having a friendly vibe. This is a fairly easy one to determine.
  • Another aspect which can contribute to the level of someone’s friendliness, is how genuine they are. Yes, this can be a subjective measurement, and will again require you to rely upon your instincts to help you to determine this when you first meet someone. However, as you get to know a person, it will be obvious whether they are or are not a genuine person. Genuine people would be classified as friendly.
  • Yes, we can all have days when we are not ourselves, and perhaps be described as moody. However, friendly people typically are seldomly moody.
  • You will also notice that most friendly people are also often kind people, and will regularly do nice things for other people. Often the nice things friendly people do for others may not even be seen or known about by others. Why? Because friendly people are not driven by needing to be rewarded for being and acting this way.

If you don’t think you are a friendly person, or have wondered why others who are that way, and behave the way they do, I hope my insight above can help you to understand friendly people better. Perhaps you could get to know more of them, as I’m 100% confident we could all benefit from having more friendly people in our lives.

One more thing. I want to conclude by saying that I sincerely hope that you have an opportunity to have an “Ollie” in your life at some point too. I’m sure going to miss him, but I have a sense he will forever be with me in my heart and soul.

Tags: #Dogs #Pets #Friendly #Friendliness #Genuineness #Relationships #Inspiration #Deathofapet #Passingofapet #Grievingapetsloss

Are you misunderstood?

What if you woke up today and had the experience all day that everything you did, and everyone you encountered fully appreciated and understood and was in support of what you were doing and what you were saying? Wouldn’t this be a wonderful day? I’m certain some of you may have encountered this experience, but was it sustainable?

Most of us have routines we rely upon to get us through the day, week or month. Even if it isn’t a formal routine, the majority of humans are creatures of habit. For me personally, I know I have a morning routine I like to go through. It includes reading, a short meditation (e.g., under 11 minutes), having a cup of coffee and breakfast, creating my list of items to accomplish for the day, and walking my dog. This all happens prior to diving into my other routines and before I start my work day.

To accomplish my routine, I normally get up before other people in my family. I do this so I can appreciate the quiet time in the morning. I also believe this time especially prepares me well for the rest of what lies ahead on my schedule.

Some of my family members don’t know that I have this routine, and if they did, and now they will, they may or may not be surprised by it. Since my family knows me well, they know I am not fazed by what other people think. Or, that I would be concerned about other people’s opinions of their perception of me. I’ve always been this way, and I attribute it to having an innate level of confidence that allows me to be this way.

Not being constrained by what other people think is truly freeing. My Mom loves to tell the story of when I was in elementary school, how I would always put outfits together that in her opinion were highly questionable from a fashion sense. At that point in my life, I didn’t even know what the word “fashion” meant. All I was concerned about was whether I liked the colors, patterns and way the clothes I picked out made me feel happy.

As an adult, I still tend to dress this way with complete abandon of what others will think of my fashion choices. I eventually realized that fashion was an extension and expression of who you are, or could be, and learning this was a complete delight. Can you relate to this? Perhaps another analogy would be more suitable, but you get my point.

So, are there ways to be better understood? Of course, there are, and I’ll share with you some ways to help you to feel more this way.

  • How would you describe yourself in a few sentences or paragraphs?
  • What would be the key words you would use to express what makes you be you?
  • Have you considered what motivates you? Break this down into categories such as your life, work or with the team you are on. Can you see patterns in these category comparisons?
  • If you feel misunderstood, have you thought about whether you feel this way due to a situation you are in, or would you say you always feel this way? If you feel this way situationally, have you factored in whether you are misunderstood because others don’t really know you, or value the skills or experience you bring to the scenario?
  • Have you fairly given others an opportunity to get to know you? Is it possible you have not expressed or communicated enough with others about who you are? Perhaps they are judging you unfairly based on a lack of fully appreciating who you are?
  • In a team situation, do you have someone on the team who would always advocate for you? In other words, do you have an internal champion or someone who will always represent you favorably to others?
  • If you don’t have someone who would play the role of your “champion” or personal public relations representative, is there someone you know that could do so?
  • Finding someone to be your “champion” is easier than you might think, as it is likely someone who already holds you in high regard. Having a conversation with this “champion” about your need for them to help support you, even temporarily can turn around the perceptions of others who don’t understand you quickly. I’ve seen this happen repeatably.
  • Visualize what it will be like from all the aspects of your life that you feel misunderstood, and what it will be like when everyone finally understands who you are. Better yet, imagine how amazing you will feel when you get to the place of feeling understood. Even if at first it is simply in one situation.

One of my aspirations in life is to have everyone I encounter feel fully understood and appreciated by others. If you know me, I hope I have been able to help you with this challenge if it is one you were facing. If I don’t know you, I’m hoping the tips I shared with you above can start you on your way to feeling understood by others.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whisperer  and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019)and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

If you want better and different results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

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Every team is dysfunctional at some point.  Click on the link below to obtain a “free guide” with (5) Proven Strategies To Turn Your Dysfunctional Team Into An Epic One

The power of a handwritten note.

I had the good fortune of learning a long time ago about the influence a handwritten note can have, and I can credit my Mom for teaching me this. She wasn’t a business person, she was a nurse, so she clearly had an appreciation of the impact words can have on others.

Initially when it wasn’t my choice to be writing handwritten thank you cards to people who had done something nice for me, or given me a gift, it seemed like and arduous task. One I actually tried to avoid doing. Mainly because I am dyslexic, and when I was younger, writing was not a talent I had developed. However, my notes were all sincere, and it established a wonderful and lifelong habit of sending handwritten notes.

Recently I was going through some boxes in my attic, and I came across a box which was filled with letters that I had saved. All of them were written before the internet came about. The amazing thing about these letters, was that they captured a time in my life I had not thought much about. Most of the letters were from my friends from high school and college, and they were mainly letters reminiscing about experiences we had together, updated me on what they were currently doing, or telling me they missed me, and were looking forward to seeing me again.

When I received those letters, they appeared to have arrived at the perfect time, as I was either home sick, or missing the person that sent them. Hearing from them cheered me up.

Some people might think of writing a letter or a card, especially in the professional world as being old fashioned. Perhaps it is, but since fewer people are writing them, they have a greater impact when they are received. In fact, I have saved the handful of cards I have received over the past few decades from other professionals.

One of the cards I saved was from a CEO I was working for. I was in fact shocked to have received a handwritten note from him, but it was probably one of the most impactful ones I had ever received. Why? Because I was incredibly disappointed by the way he handled a project. He knew this, and he knew he had made a mistake with the approach he initially took.

The CEO’s letter to me was an apology and thank you letter. In the letter, he told me that he should not have pulled rank on me, or have overridden one of my decisions, and he regretted that he did that. He expressed both his regret, and sincere appreciation for how I handled myself professionally, and for how exceptionally well the project I was leading turned out. Receiving this letter was actually shocking, but it provided me with an entirely new lens on this leader. A much more positive one, as I could see that he had taken the time to be reflective, had learned from the mistake he had made, and was willing to own up and take responsibility for owning his decision and actions. When I think about this situation, I don’t think verbally hearing what he had written would have had the same positive impact.  In fact, I know it would not have.

I can understand that some people might not feel confident about being able to craft a handwritten note, but let me assure you, you can write one with greater ease than you imagine. It just takes some practice, and the good news for you, is that it doesn’t have to be a long note. Consider the size of most traditional thank you cards. They are literally about four inches wide, and three inches long. That’s not a lot of writing real estate, so this can work in your favor. Even better? If you buy a traditional “thank you” greeting card, they often have something written inside, so you only have to add a sentence or two to personalize your note.

If you still are not convinced that you should be writing more handwritten notes to people, here are some other reasons to consider why you should be doing this.

  • Writing a handwritten note doesn’t take much effort, but the person receiving it will consider that you put genuine effort into doing this.
  • There isn’t any downside to saying thank you to someone, especially via a handwritten note.
  • If you are a leader, you should absolutely be regularly crafting handwritten notes. No exceptions or excuses for why you are not. As they saying goes, “lead by example.”
  • Yes, manners are still noticed. Especially when good ones are exhibited, and crafting a handwritten note ticks off the box of having good manners.
  • Being thoughtful isn’t overrated, and sending someone a handwritten note can speak volumes in your favor when you do this.
  • Sure, you can stand out on social media, but consider this. When do you think the person you are trying to influence the most received a handwritten note? Consider standing out from the crowd by finding your pen and a card to send to them.
  • Handwritten notes can cover a wide variety of topics. Consider all of the people you could write a card to, and what you could express to them from a positive perspective.
  • Keep the negative notes to yourself, as they tend to do more harm than good. However, writing them can be cathartic, but I don’t recommend sending them.
  • Consider the last time you received a handwritten note from someone. Perhaps you can return the favor and send one back to them?

So, having expressed my views about the power of handwritten notes, don’t be surprised if you get one from me one day. I’ll also be waiting to see who will take me up on my concept of leveraging the power of a handwritten note. Maybe I’ll receive one from you?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Success #Rolemodel #Leadbyexample #Impressions #Firstimpressions #Leader #Leaders #Positiveinfluence #CEO #Communication #Management #Marketing

Asking for help. Is there a good way to do so?

Yesterday I was having a serious conversation with a person I know. Someone in fact I have known for decades. I could tell by the sound of their voice that someone was wrong, or perhaps that they were struggling with something that didn’t come up initially during our conversation. Sure enough, my instincts were correct, and I asked a few more questions, and the person revealed what was going on.  In fact, there was too much going on, and they were so overwhelmed, they didn’t know what to do. Or, how to ask for help. 

This person’s situation was quite extreme, and from an outside perspective, you would have thought they could have easily been seeking help. They were not. Instead, they were suffering alone, and ironically, were helping everyone else around them. 

Perhaps because this person finds it to be so easy to help others, that they have either neglected being able to help themselves, or they have fallen into a common conundrum. The conundrum is failing to provide self-care. This can often happen, and is sometimes done unconsciously. One of the reasons this occurs is that although it may sound counter intuitive, for some people, it is sometimes easier for them to care for others than it is to care for themselves. 

Another person I know who was admittedly challenged with self-care, would say that he would struggle with being able to metaphorically “put the oxygen mask on first”. Being able to take care of yourself first, appears to be a “no-brainer”, but it isn’t always for everyone. This scenario can be further complicated due to the situation the person finds themselves in (e.g., work, or personal). Although if someone is challenged with being able to ask for help from others, it typically is something which impacts all aspects of their life. 

When I started thinking about whether we are taught how to ask for help, I thought back to a time in my life when I was learning to be a lifeguard. As I was going through my training, there was a great deal of focus on how to simultaneously help the person you were rescuing, while also making sure you would be safe too. This seems obvious, but when you are in a situation when you are rescuing someone, sometimes they or the surrounding circumstances can make it much more difficult to rescue them. 

Having the right tools to help someone is critical. A large part of being able to do so, is knowing what questions to ask the person, with the goal of getting them to open up and share with you what is going on. However, let’s turn the scenario around, and put ourselves in the “shoes” of the person who is in need of help. Everyone has been in this situation, and admittedly, some are better at being able to ask for help than others. The people who have cracked the code on being able to ask for help, are in a much stronger position than others. This is despite the thinking for some people that it is a sign of weakness when you ask for help. I’m not sure where this thinking came from, but it does not serve anyone well to think this way. Especially those who are in leadership positions. 

Both personally and in the workforce if someone doesn’t and should be asking for help, and the situation they are in which needs attention, tends to decline further. Ignoring a situation because someone doesn’t want to ask for help generally does not end well, and I can guarantee most of us have given this option a try before. 

Yes, it can take courage for some people to ask for help. However, asking for help shouldn’t be tied to pride or emotions which conjure negative associations (e.g., appearing weak, exposing something you don’t know how to do, being embarrassed, you don’t deserve the help). Although I realize for many people these are common reasons they do not ask for help, asking for help can get much easier to do, and it applies to all situations. Practice.

Below are some suggestions you can consider if you are the type of person who does not like asking for help. 

·      Asking for help takes practice. So, if you need or think you will be in a situation where you will need help at some point, don’t let your situation get to the point of putting you in an extreme situation before you ask for support. 

·      Think about the factors contributing to why you are uncomfortable with asking for support. Are they rational or reasonable? 

·      Why do you think you have to be able to do everything yourself? No one person is an expert at everything, and no one is perfect. 

·      Is there something you can do to help the person you might need help from? Perhaps you will be more comfortable asking them for their support if you are able to help them in some way?

·      Have you considered that people want to help you or others? Most people find it highly gratifying to help someone. 

·      Will your situation improve if you were to ask for help? 

·      Do you want your situation to improve? It can if you ask for help. 

There isn’t one perfect way to ask for help, and when you need help, I hope you will get to a point of being able to comfortably and confidently ask for it. Remember, people by nature like to help others. Keep this in mind when you are reluctant to ask someone for the help you need. 

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Workplace #Professional #Personal #Help #HowToAskForHelp 

Everyone is a specialist. Where are the generalists?

Overview:

When I began my business career, I started out in marketing. At that time, I was tasked with doing basic marketing activities, and I gradually began to take on more advanced marketing assignments and responsibilities. About a decade into my career, I took on a leadership role and was responsible for a team of marketers. At that time, I was still able to be both a marketing practitioner, while leading the team.

The thing that I liked the most about my career as a marketer in the first half of my profession, was that I would have classified myself as a generalist. What I mean by this, is that I was able to participate in all of the aspects of the marketing field. I loved the variety and challenges that each of the areas of this part of business presented to me, especially the creative and strategic aspects.

Fast forward to the mid 2000’s and I started to notice a trend occurring in my profession. What I began to see happen was the evolution of those who wore a marketing “hat” start to veer into becoming specialists in this profession. This occurred around the time when social media marketing began to become more complex, and required a dedicated and hyper focused attention on the aspects of digital marketing. When this shift in marketing began to emerge, I knew this was leaning towards the demise of marketing generalists. At least for most medium to large businesses.

Being a marketing generalist was probably the most fun and creatively expressive time in my career, as I was able to flex and leverage all of my acquired marketing skills on a daily basis. When it became clear that the skills required to excel and be defined as an expert in social media was inevitable, this was around the time I began to wonder what would happen to other marketers who would classify themselves as generalists?

Did the marketing generalists began to fade out into obscurity and slowly begin to “exit stage left” in the marketing profession? Perhaps, but as a comparison, I think what happened was that marketing generalists with 15 plus years of experience began to either shift to work for smaller companies where they could continue to leverage all of their skills, or could be compared to general practitioner doctors. What I mean by this is that you go in to consult with the marketing generalist or general practitioner, and they refer to you as a specialist.

Is the specialist model a good one? Perhaps, and the jury may still be out on this, but I believe with both marketing and the medical worlds becoming increasingly more complex, there is likely a strong demand for the need to have people become specialists. The question is, do people presently even have the option to learn the aspects of becoming a generalist in any industry? What if you are the type of person who enjoys the challenge of having to know enough about each of the different areas of your profession, and are not interested or challenged enough by having to specialize in an area? Is there still a possibility for people entering the workforce to stay on what I will refer to as a “generalists track”?

In my opinion, when someone is either compelled, or perhaps not given a choice about whether they want to become a specialist, I have concerns about this model going forward. The reason for this is because as someone who has been both a generalist and specialist, I can appreciate the fact I have seen both sides of this model. However, I would also say that being a generalist can be a more difficult path for most people, as it requires you to be skilled in a number of different areas, and at a proficiency level which you wouldn’t be questioned about your abilities.

Achieving a “generalist” status in any profession is going to be quite challenging, but it is possible. Although I will offer that you will have to seek out more opportunities to gain the variety of experiences to acquire your generalist skills.

If you are looking for some suggestions on how to take the path of becoming a generalist, here are some ways you can consider doing this.

  • You will need to keep an open mind about where you will be starting this journey. It might be that you will need to consider living in a different part of the country where there are more opportunities for you to leverage.
  • I recommend you make it clear that you are not seeking to specialize in a particular role, but that you would like to gain as much broad experience as is possible in the role you will be doing.
  • It’s likely you will need to ask for additional opportunities to expand your options of the experience you will be gaining, and you may experience some resistance in being able to do activities you only have junior level skills to do.
  • Consider shadowing someone if they are not willing to give you hands on opportunities to try something new. Eventually they might give you a chance to “try” what you want to experience.
  • Smaller companies will typically offer you more of a variety of experiences, especially in marketing, so be sure to factor this into your experience planning. The larger companies will tend to hire mainly specialists at the entry to mid-level positions.
  • Although this might be more challenging to attempt, I would suggest you consider test driving a few different industries to gain your experience in. Doing this will allow you to see which industries might be more willing to provide you with opportunities to gain your generalist skills.
  • Channel your inner researcher skills and embark upon speaking to as many people as you can to help you to determine alternative methods to gain your generalist experience in other creative ways.
  • Don’t rule out volunteering at an organization where they would be thrilled to have you provide them with help, and perhaps allow you to stretch your existing skills, or learn new ones that you can benefit from gaining.

My intention for sharing information about this topic with you was to open your mind to the possibility of exploring what is now more of an alternative career track (e.g., generalist), when in the past, this was more of the norm. I believe there is still a need for people who have generalist skills, and that not everyone has to be a specialist going forward, and I applaud either direction you think is the right one for you.

TAGS: #Career #Experience #Marketing #Business #Teams #HumanResources #CareerDevelopment #Expertise #Specialist #HumanDevelopment #PersonalDevelopment #CareerOptions #SocialMedia #SocialMediaMarketing #Generalists #Specialists #CareerSpecialists #MarketingSpecialists #BusinessSpecialists #HumanResources #HRProfessional #CareerAdvice #MarketingCareerAdvice #BusinessCareerAdvice

How to actually get along with others.

Given the enormous division we have been seeing in our countries ability to get along with others recently, I felt compelled to write about this. Getting along with others is not a light subject to address, yet it is one that truly resonates with me.

There are a number of things I am passionate about. One of them is the importance of granting a minimum level of respect to everyone I encounter. In other words, starting from a neutral place with everyone I meet, without judging them prior to interacting with them.

Based on my profession, I meet and have worked with thousands of people. Each time I meet someone I look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to get to know an interesting person. To learn something from them, and to better understand how they view the world. From my perspective, meeting and getting to know others is similar to opening or being given a gift.

How is it that people become so jaded and reluctant to embrace being able to get along with others? Unfortunately, they are negatively influenced by others in their life to shape how they think from an early age. As someone matures, the circle of people they interact with will further shape and influence how they think. Yes, we all have the ability to be independent thinkers, but it takes more effort to do this. Yet, it is completely worth putting in the work to think this way.

Of course, our life circumstances can also impact the way we perceive and get along with others in our lives. Sprinkle in the concept of one’s mindset, and this too can play a negative or positive role in which way people think about and how they get along with others.

Now factor in the concept of effort, as this too also needs to be considered. For instance whether it is a minimum or maximum amount of effort applied, in terms of attempting to interact well, and get along with half the people we encounter. If the amount of effort is low, chances are that people will struggle with getting along with others. I’m applying the term effort, as an umbrella term for numerous other words. Unfortunately, prejudice is the first one that comes to my mind. However, my opinion about prejudice is that it is based on being highly misinformed, and stubbornly reluctant to accept and honor and equally value other people.

For the sake of being on the same page with our thinking, indulge me in winding back our lives to when we were able to get along with just about everyone. Everyone will likely wind back to a different age, but most will generally be sub five years old. At that time in our lives we were not burdened with investing negative energy into thinking about other people. Imagine if you could roll back to that point in time?

Starting from a place of treating everyone equally, and as if they are one of your friends, is a noble thought. Is it realistic? Perhaps not, but consider what our world would be like if as adults we put more effort and modeled for younger generations how to get along with others?

Personally, I am on a daily quest to model this type of behavior. In fact, I am honored when I am able to meet a new person. Especially when they initially appear to represent an outward perspective, and may appear quite different from me (e.g., they grew up in a different country, speak a different language, are older, younger, etc.).

One of the greatest compliments related to this topic, and that I have received from another person, was that they completely misjudged me based on my appearance. In other words, they were applying their own prejudice to me prior to interacting with me. They also told me that they learned something from this experience. What they shared with me was that they were going to from that point on, do their part to be more open and less judgmental. In other words, they were going to attempt to not thrust their prejudiced thinking on others going forward.

In case you were wondering if there are concepts you can apply to get along better with others, there are. Here are some suggestions to do this.

  • Consider reading, listening to a podcast or watching a video about mindset. More specifically look up the word “open mindedness”.
  • Factor in how you feel when you meet and or interact with someone new. What are some of the first thoughts that cross your mind about this person? Are they negative or positive thoughts?
  • What if you trusted everyone new that you met. Or, perhaps were neutral in your thinking about them when you first met them. How would your interaction with this person change?
  • What value do you place on having more people in your life that are different than you?
  • Think about the characteristics of the people you consider to be your friends. Are you proud of their characteristics? Or, are there aspects of their characteristics which you simply accept, but are not happy about?
  • How would you currently rate your ability to get along well with others? Are you able to objectively rate yourself?
  • Have you ever avoided meeting someone for reasons you would not be comfortable with sharing with others why you feel this way? Think about why you feel this way. Is it reasonable or logical to think this way? 
  • What level of effort do you put into getting along with others? Perhaps you don’t put enough effort in to make it work out to get along well.
  • Are you always pointing the blame on someone else for why you can’t get along? Have you considered maybe you and the way you interact with others is the reason you are challenged with getting along with others.

To do my part, I’ll be focused on being a role model to demonstrate how to get along well with others. I hope many of you will do the same, as we all know our world will be a much better place if we could all simply just get along well with one another.

Tags: #Howtogetalongwithothers #Gettingalong #Leadership #Relationships #Business #Management #Prejudice #teambuilding #leadershipmindset #engagement #success #Teams

What’s your one thing you are known for?

If someone else were to name the one thing you are known for being good at doing, or perhaps want to be known for, would they be able to do so? How critical is it that you would want them to be able to get this right? 

Humans are complex, and it can be difficult to truly understand and appreciate one another on multiple levels. When it comes to the topic of talent, and being good at a particular thing, it is always interesting to consider how someone evolved to the talent level they have attained. Research supports that to master something, an individual needs to spend around ten thousand hours to reach the level of being exceptional, or considered to be an expert at something.

When you think about how many people actually get to the level of putting in the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery of whatever it is they are known for being good at, what does it take for this person to have this level of focus? Or, the command of discipline required to sustain those many hours of pursuing what they are doing? Does being passionate about something play a role in fueling the person to achieve the highest level of mastery?

Upon considering the people I have come across in my life who have reached the pinnacle of either their career, or the mastery of something they are known for that is not associated with their profession, I have found they all have one thing in common. What is this one thing they have in common? Surprisingly it’s a relatively simple concept.

All of these people will tell you that they love what they are doing. Matter of factly, they will also tell you that the time they are putting into, or have put into pursuing what they are doing or have achieved may in fact have seemed effortless to them. Not always, but many people who have reached a mastery level will also tell you that there were times when it was difficult doing what they were doing. Perhaps even times when they wanted to end their pursuit of mastery. However, all of them would agree that it was worth whatever they had to go through, sacrifice and endure.

This week I had the honor of speaking to a Gold Medal winning Olympian. I asked her what her journey was like to get to the level she attained. Her response was interesting. It was interesting because she only slightly references her own personal involvement in attaining her mastery. In other words, she talked about all of the people in her life, including her parents, coaches, friends and teammates that allowed her to achieve what she did.

This Olympian also mentioned that it was her sense of appreciation for being able to strive to be the best at what she was doing that was one of the contributing elements to her success. It was also the comraderie and support from her teammates along her journey that also contributed to making the difference in remaining focused on her talent contribution towards helping the team with the goal of winning an Olympic gold medal.  I asked her what impact winning an Olympic Gold medal had on her life?  She told me that it provided her with lifelong friends that she literally after many years, is still in daily contact with. Beyond this, they have supported one another via both numerous highs and lows in each other’s lives. However, she also told me that the best part of this type of friendship, is how they would literally consider one another to be family members, and support each other no matter what the circumstances were.

If you are on your way to mastering something you want to be known for either personally or professionally, below are some suggestions to consider to help you to continue on your path. Especially on days that might be slightly more difficult to do so.

  • Pause for a moment. During this pause, consider and make sure you are in fact focusing on something that you either are naturally gifted at doing, or have enough passion for to pursue achieving, regardless of how difficult it will be to do so.
  • Not everyone is intended to achieve a mastery level of something, but if you are inclined to be one of these people, make sure you have people in your life that will be able to emotionally support you on this journey.
  • Socially prune out the people in your life who are not supportive of your quest.
  • Always keep your end goal in mind, or written down and in a place you can reference.
  • Visualize both how it will feel, and what you expect your situation will be like once you master your “thing” you are striving to become an expert in.
  • Focus on the impact your mastery achievement will potentially and positively impact not only you, but others (e.g., you could be a role model for someone).
  • There may be days, even weeks when you might not be able to pursue taking your talent to the next level. Yes, this might feel like a set-back, but keep time in perspective, and understand you are metaphorically running a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Look for inspiration from others, nature, music, or whatever it takes to keep your motivation level where it needs to be in pursuit of your mastery.

Eventually, if someone wants to achieve something, and they have an innate and burning desire to do so, they will get to the place of being known for what they are doing and good at. Going on this journey will be a long one, but if you have the right mindset, and desire to get there, nothing can really prevent you from getting there. Even if the definition of your mastery level is altered at some point along the way, ultimately you are the one who is defining what success of your talent means, and what you are great at either personally or professionally. Perhaps both.

TAGS: #Success #Achievement #Mastery #Olympics #OlympicGoldMedal #Positivity #Mindset #Business #Teams #Teammates #Business #Teamwork #Friendship #PursuitOfSuccess #Goals #AchievingAGoal #Leadership #Mindset #Motivation