Workplace Wisdom... Discover Fulfillment in Life and Work with Michelle Y. Drake
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Friday, March 27, 2009
Do You have the 13 Vital Traits for Success?
I’ve got a question for you...now be honest!
Are you truly where you want to be in life?
(Who is, right?)
Well, today I have a treat for you...a freebie (for now)!
My amazing friend (and Success Guru...she founded and runs Success IQ University) Stephanie Frank is launching a new program and I convinced her to let my readers preview it for FREE!!! The program, “The 13 Vital Traits of Super Effective People”, will help you understand the blueprint you need to get where you want to be in business and in life.
Anyone feeling a little bit lost these days?
I have seen many of Stephanie's programs and she is top notch...and funny...and part of my Girlfriend Network (remember yesterday's post!!!)
I don’t know how long she’ll be offering this program for my people for free, so take 5 minutes now, click the link above and claim your 13 Vital Traits of Super Effective People audio training program today.
I was having a coaching session with a client on the phone the other day while I was at home trying to recuperate from two whirlwind weeks in California attending the WITI Women and Technology Summit and meeting with clients and colleagues. She's a new employee trying to establish herself as a vital part of her new team, but she's having trouble dealing with one of her teammates.
"Every new idea that gets brought to the table is shot down by her," my client said. "We're facing some issues that demand solutions. We've had several meetings and are no closer to resolving anything. It's so frustrating!"
That's a tough one. We've all known our fair share of "Debbie Downer" types; they always something negative to say, always want to poke holes in our ideas, always playing "devil's advocate."
But are they being pessimists...or realists?
I found a great article on this subject on The Wall Street Journal website:
In this article, Ms. Schaefer likens these people to the office Eeyore :) and she give some great tips on how to alter your way of thinking without sacrificing your personality or completely refraining from offering a differing opinion.
After all, sometimes it's the devil's advocate or the hole-poker who keeps us from making major missteps at work. It's important to balance being positive with challenging your team and your company to strive for greatness and profitability.
Knowing how to speak in public is VITAL to your success personally and professionally. Most executives that I know wouldn't be where they are today if they couldn't express themselves to their teams, their clients and their bosses. And the fear of opening your mouth in front of an audience - small or large - can be crippling to your career and your relationships.
My "Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking!"video program shares my best tips for banishing those public speaking demons forever. As a professional speaker myself and someone who has met other amazing speakers, I've gathered a world of experience, tips, and tools that I want to share with you through this video program.
Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention has people talking, and after seeing it, I can understand why. You gotta give her credit...what a fantastic speech and speaker! Michelle held that room in the palm of her hand! She knew that her role was to appeal to the women voters in the audience (both live and virtual)...the mothers, sisters and daughters and that is how she played her content and delivery. She knew she needed some female damage control...and she delivered.
The immediate connection she made with the women in the audience was, "I am someone you could chat with over coffee!"
The stories she told and the passionate and engaging way she told them really struck a chord. It was clear that although she was there to talk up her husband, she did so in a way that was personal and heartwarming - not cold and robotic, just spewing out facts about him. I admire how she embraced her roles as a wife, mother and daughter instead of shying away from them as so many professional women do. This woman clearly has a good idea of who she is and what role she would like to play as First Lady.
It was a brilliant move (and a crowd pleaser) when she...
gave props to her mother (and father), to Hillary Clinton for the "18 million cracks" she's made in the "glass ceiling", and to the generations of people who've come before us and how they paved the way, they are our role models, they've given us opportunities for success.
You know, I think Michelle would really like my book!
As a professional speaker, I examined her with a critical eye and found her to be an excellent speaker both charismatic and focused. She looked elegant, stylish and (most importantly for managing her image) approachable- great choice not to put on the corporate suit because it would've contrasted with her subtle message ("I am just like you").
The girl sure can tell a story: she clearly projected that her message was heartfelt and that she was passionate about it, but she didn't slip into being overly sentimental. Her words had just enough polish to be taken seriously, but enough tiny mistakes to make it personable as well . Her gestures and body language complemented her eloquence and grace. Although sometimes her pointing of the finger gave away a bit of her more aggressive side.
All-in-all, I give her an A for her speech and her presentation. I particularly liked her call to action: stop doubting and start dreaming; follow your hopes instead of your fears.
My apologies for staying away from my blog for so long, but between working with clients, traveling to Salt Lake City for a conference about SendOutCards.com (you've GOT to check these guys out - their system is amazing and so much fun!), and getting my sons back off to college (the house is mine and my husband's again - woo hoo! But seriously, I love my kids and miss them, too), I've been using my few minutes of downtime to, you know, breathe.
And I've also been staying up way too late to watch the Olympics! I'm so proud of our fellow countrymen and countrywomen; they've been outstanding all around in their events. According to Yahoo! this morning, the USA has earned 101 medals so far (8 of which are the incredible gold medals won by record-breaker Michael Phelps - congratulations to him!).
While I love the thrill of the competitions, I'm truly amazed by the Olympians themselves. To paraphrase a comment made on "Project Runway" during their Olympic challenge, they are as close to real-live superheros as we can get. They are at peak performance levels, and they've trained endlessly to achieve their goals. Let's follow their example!
Today, I challenge you to commit to your career like an Olympian commits to his or her training. I want you focus on kicking your career into overdrive (especially if lately it's been chugging along like a golf cart), and I want you firing all cylinders as you work towards your career's peak performance level.
And as your coach, I'm going to give you the benefit of my knowledge with these 10 tips for advancing your career!
1. Create a "life skills" line: Record everything you know how to do - from birth until the present - and all the skills required to do them. What have you excelled at? (And they don't have to be just work-related...you'd be surprised how the skills you have in your hobbies translate into success into the workplace.)
2. Make a "life activity" line (layer it right over your "life skills" line). Identify the activies at work and at home that you enjoy doing. If your skill is problem-solving, activities you might like are troubleshooting at work or working on your car's engine. A career that is satisfying and challenging with incorporate some of those skills and activities.
3. Rate your enjoyment and aptitude of each entry on your line: 1 if you're excellent at it and love doing it; 5 if it's one of your weaker areas or if you wouldn't want to do it for more than a few hours. And with this info, you're going to then...
4. Create a clear picture in your mind of your next 5 career moves (they're not set in stone!). They could be in order and progressing up through your organization, or they could be lateral moves into other organizations or industries. Plotting out these career moves starts to set you up with a strategy for career advancement (and we all know how much I LOVE strategy!).
5. Map out opportunities within your organization. You got those 5 career moves in your head - where are they in your organization? Create a "treasure map" that you can follow, leading you to each of those 5 career moves. Who's holding those jobs now? What are your chances of earning that position? If there's a star blocking your route of advancement (think Don Draper of "Mad Men") who shows no signs of budging, then you should first do everything in your power to succeed and prove your worth in your current position (a shift all the way up line might occur) or you might want to consider moving to another company, which leads me to...
6. Map opportunities outside your organization. What organizations are the leaders in your industry? Are they looking for highly-skilled people like you, and if so, what could they offer you? Look for industries that are complementary to yours. There may be opportunities to not only bring your insights into a new industry, but also for you to be invigorated by a new set of challenges.
7. Assess people in higher levels of your organization. Give them a report card. Who does a great job? Who might be on his or her way out? Who might be open to talking to you about their position? What are their skills...and do you have them?
8. Make a list of people who would help you if they knew your career aspirations. While it's a good idea to be tentative about who you share your career plans with (especially if they include chucking your current job for another), you have people in your sphere of influence that can help you attain your career goals if you talk to them about those goals. Be selective in who you share your dreams with, but make sure you share your dreams with someone!
9. Use an interview as an excuse to go and speak to someone who has the job that you want. Does your company have a newsletter or a website that highlights employees and bosses? If so, go to the head of these departments and ask if you can do a profile on the person who has the job you want. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to have some of the burden taken off them, and I'm sure that the person you interview will be flattered that you're so interested in them and their job. Asking for an interview is a non-threatening way to do your research and gather information.
10. Join an industry organization. This is a primo networking opportunity just waiting for you to reach out and grab it. Learn about other companies in your industry, other positions you may be qualified for, and loads of other inside scoop that can help you strategize your next career move.
Now go out there and earn a gold medal in career advancement!
Well, after last week's whirlwind posting marathon during "Lipstick Leadership Week", I decided to lay low for the past few days.
In the interim, I've been swamped with coaching clients who are begging me to help them with their public speaking. Apparently, that old saying about public speaking being an even greater fear than death is true!
Now, I admit: even a professional speaker like me gets butterflies in her stomach before taking the stage and staring out into that sea of people. But then my adrenaline kicks in and my naturally talkative personality takes over. Unfortunately, that's not the case for most people.
I've heard horror stories from clients, colleagues and friends about how they froze under the spotlights (or even speaking to a smaller group in a meeting) and tripped and stuttered their way through their presentations. My heart goes out to them. (I feel the same way when faced with a situation where math is required!)
So a few days ago, I had one of those "aha" moments Oprah's always talking about:
- People need help with their public speaking. - I'm a professional speaker who can also be considered something of an expert in getting over fears.
Why not figure out some global way (as opposed to one-on-one coaching...there's only so much of my time to go around!) that I could help people overcome their fear of public speaking??
I'm now in the process of developing a fantastic new video product and loads of special bonuses to go along with it. I can't wait to unveil it, and I'm hoping to have the finishing touches put on it next week!
Keep your eyes open, loyal readers, because you're going to be one of the first people I offer it out to. I'll post more details soon!
...all of the fantastic entries I received will live on here at my blog!
If you missed out on last week's event, feel free to scroll down or click on the "lipstick leadership stories" tag at the bottom of this post to enjoy all of the anedotes and insights that made "Lipstick Leadership Week" a smashing success!
I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who sent in stories - they were all truly amazing and inspiring. I only wish I could get to know each of these incredible role models personally!
And it's a great feeling to know that this network of "mother's wisdom" you all helped me create is only the beginning! I can't wait to get started on the next book in the "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office" series - you've proven that there's limitless inspiration out there and plenty of moms and mom figures to draw experiences from!
In the meantime, I've got a lot of other pots full of ideas bubbling on my mental stovetop, and you'll be the first to hear about them here on my blog and through my free eZine "Lipstick Leadership" (Haven't signed up yet? You're missing out on a lot of great info! Sign up here or at LipstickLeadership.com).
Lipstick Leadership: More Than Words - Corrie Woods' Story!
"The most powerful lessons I learned, and am still learning, from my mother haven't come in words. Not that the countless times she sat me down to share wisdom that helped me to find my way weren't important. They were. Yet the lessons that have lasted the longest and that have become a part of who I am came from watching how my mother shows up in the world. Here are a few examples of what I mean: my mother doesn't believe in complaining, never has. She takes what life hands her and makes the most out of it. My mother shows me that a woman can be tough and strong and have a huge and caring heart. Though I undoubtedly have had my moments of stretching her toleration and patience, I have never doubted she was there for me and my sisters 100%. My mother taught me that when it comes down to it, dropping everything and hopping a plane to take care of a loved one in need is a no-brainer. Most of all, my mother taught me these lessons and so many more which have helped me to be the best mom I can be for my children. That has been the greatest gift of all!"
- Corrie Woods, author of "The Woman's Field Guide to Exceptional Living"
Lipstick Leadership: "Igniting the Spark of Leadership" - Chris Brown's Story!
"My mom was my Brownie leader. She organized the crafts. She volunteered to pick up the patches at the scout shop. She still isn't much of a singer, but she taught us all those special Brownie songs. She helped us recite the Brownie promise at the close of each meeting. She got all of us girls to really believe in ourselves that when we chanted the phrase, "Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and saw...myself!" When we glanced down at the pine branches laid around the mirror, we really were transformed into someone who can do anything. She gave us the confidence to try new things and make a difference. And over the years, our troop did. We cleaned up the overgrown corner lot in our town, throwing away trash, trimming back all the weeds and planting petunias. We visited the shut-ins in the nursing home. We camped in the woods and cooked on Buddy Burners made of 3 lb. coffee cans and tuna cans with cardboard and wax.
As we grew from Brownies to Juniors to Cadettes, so did our activities. We traveled to the capital. We helped organize events for the younger scouts. We saw plays. We earned badges. We took photos and cemented friendships. We created scavenger hunts for the younger scouts with watermelons as the prize at the end. We learned leadership skills like mentoring, planning, encouraging and collaborating.
My mom volunteered hundreds of hours to the girls in our troop. She taught us leadership by letting us try it on one step at a time. And now, many years later, if you surveyed those dozen girls, you'll find women who have grown up to become leaders in a wide variety of roles including business, government and health care (and scouts, too). And now we are passing it on to the next generation.
Thanks Mom, for igniting the spark of leadership in all of us!
Lipstick Leadership: Independent Woman - Christina Lemmey's Story!
"My mother is very independent and led by example that women could do anything we wanted to do. She was a stay-at-home mom and was not a business person, but she took art classes at the community college, and she would travel at least once a year by herself to visit her brothers across the country or her best friend. We didn't have sit-down conversations about all the things I could accomplish, but sometimes seeing a living example is just as powerful as hearing the words. I've heard from many friends how they are surprised I would drive 3 hours with my kids to visit an out-of-state friend by myself. I also decided on my own to start my business and figured out myself what steps I needed to take to learn more from coaches to increase my business.
While I do not consider myself a risk-taker, the independence that I learned from my mother has definitely helped lead me on the right business path."
Lipstick Leadership: "Stand Up!" - Dr. Carole Lieberman's Story!
"My mother taught me to stand up for myself and not be intimidated by rules. For example, as a little girl, I remember being awestruck by how she would persuade big department stores to take back merchandise that their rules said would never happen. Like the designer gown she got a store to take back because there were suddenly cheaper copies of it on the market all over town. This, despite signs warning that they never take back gowns. It may seem like a trivial example, but it taught me not to take 'no' for an answer.
Today, she has the same spunk when it comes to dreaming up audacious marketing strategies for her new children's book, Archibald's Swiss Cheese Mountain. I look at her and am reminded and grateful that she has passed this 'chutzhpah' on to me."
- Dr. Carole Lieberman, Beverly Hills psychiatrist/author/talk show host, www.DrCarole.com
Lipstick Leadership: Learning to Be Myself - Laura Ries' Story!
"Mom's greatest gift to me was encouraging me to be me. She valued my sister and I for who we are. It was okay if we had interests that were not typical. She was full of life and loved to celebrate. It wasn't until recently that I have applied this gift to my career. I kept a part of me separate when at work. This was in an effort to be 'business-like'. I was able to do my job and very well, but something was missing.
Oh, if I hadn't had the encouragement from mom, I wouldn't have ever tried being me. Now that I have, there is a new dimension to the work environment that enriches all of us."
Lipstick Leadership: "What Are You Wearing?" - Vicki Flaugher's Story!
"My mom and I have an inside joke about visualizing your success. We both believe that to reach a goal you have to really see it like it's already accomplished and if you do, it will come to you. So, when I would tell my mother about a project I was working on, or a dream I wanted to fulfill as an entrepreneur, she would always ask me, 'What are you wearing?' She would want me to describe my clothes and my hair style and everything that would be happening at the moment I achieved my goal, right down to the color of my dress and lipstick. She'd ask how I am celebrating my victory and who is with me. It's a little game we play and it really helps me to get clear about the end I am seeking. My mom has a great way of helping me see myself as a success. I just ask myself, 'What are you wearing?' and my confidence rises. I have to give her at least partial credit for helping me in that area. Together, we are stronger!"
- Vicki Flaugher, the original SmartWoman, SmartWomanPublishing.com
Lipstick Leadership: "All I Am I Owe to My Mother": Denise Reed's Story!
"Everything I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln
"As Abraham Lincoln said, everything I am I owe to my mother. She taught me how to tie my shoes, how to match my clothes, and how to make decorative flowers out of Kleenex. She taught me manners, respect for myself and others, the value of a dollar, and the importance of an education. She gave me driving lessons without yelling, excitedly took me shopping for two prom dresses, and as a child, she even let me roller skate repeatedly in the air conditioned house when it was too hot to go outside. She taught me countless and invaluable lessons in life that have shaped me into the strong, confident woman I am today.
Throughout my life I have heard her recount bits and pieces of her childhood on the small island off of Japan called Okinawa. She ran through dirt-covered streets without shoes (not by choice but by lack of money) and went hungry more often than not. She had difficulty learning English when she arrived in the United States at the young age of 12, and she had an even more difficult time trying to fit in at school. After graduating from high school, she attended beauty school while working in the kitchen of a local hospital. She saved every penny to buy her own car and secured a position at a nearby beauty salon. She later met and married my dad, and they happily celebrated their 40th anniversary in April of this year. Their life together was built on a partnership, both in marriage and business.
Soon after my parents were married, they purchased a catering business and worked the business without employees for over 30 years. This required my mom to cook, clean, run a household and be the best mom a child could ever have. She managed all of these things like an Olympic skater on ice - gracefully.
My mom has worked harder than any woman I know and probably ever will. Her childhood was less than desirable, and she could have easily used that as a crutch to walk through life with an entirely different attitude. Instead, she worked all that much harder to provide me with a life than every child is entitled to. She showered me with love and affection, provided me with opportunities that allowed me to learn and grow, and she taught me that roller skating in the house is wonderful fun.
Thank you, Mom, for being the mother that I am striving to be to my son. I love you!"
"As a stepmother, I often struggled to find that fine balance between friend and mom. My stepson has a wonderful mother who is helping him lead a strong, value-filled life. However, I'm a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child. I didn't want to just be his friend - I wanted to be a 'co-mom' for him, basically a third-party for him to talk to.
After many years of struggle - taking him to the duck pond, playing football with him, and showing him that I loved him as a son - I sometimes wondered if it was working. That changed one day when I jokingly asked, 'Who's your favorite stepmom?' and he replied, 'You are.' I laughed and said, 'That's because I'm your only stepmom,' and he looked at me for a minute, and then what this 11-year-old said brought tears to my eyes. 'No, Kristie,' he said earnestly. 'Even if you and dad divorced and he remarried, you'd still be my favorite stepmom.'
This story means even more to me today, now that he's a teenager, as his father and I are divorced. I'm still trying to figure out how to be a 'non' stepmom. But the lesson learned here is that you don't have to strive to be liked to be respected and loved. You have to go for what's right. I've applied this to my career as a teacher as well. I don't have to be a child's friend; I have to be his teacher, and I have to be respected by him."
Lipstick Leadership -- Unexpected Kindness is the Best Marketing According to Seth Godin's Mom
Seth Godin writes the most popular marketing blog in the world. He is the author of the bestselling marketing books of the last decade, speaks to large groups on marketing, new media and "what's next"; and is the found of Squidoo.com, a fast-growing recommendation website.
He posted about advice from his mom...
"[My mom] pointed out that any time you do something because you're supposed to, or because everyone else is doing it, it's not worth as much. Flowers the week before or a nice poem on the day after were priceless compared to the trudge to the restaurant on the appointed day.
I think this is true of all marketing. Nice words to a customer the day they say they're quitting, or to an employee during an annual review aren't worth much at all."
Lipstick Leadership: Making the Best Decision - Myriam Wead's Story!
"I was born in France. My mother was always fair. Her father had been a prisoner of the Germans in WWII, and she saw him for the first time at age six. There were many siblings. In a small village, many things happen and there are rivalries and misunderstandings, but she always taught us that there was a best decision that could be made in any given set of circumstances. Don't panic. Just make the best decision for the moment."
"[There is] one thing that stands out in my mind that Mom used to say to us years ago (and still would today given the chance...I find myself using this and passing it on to my kids all the time, too!). You know how you wake up on a cold winter day with a sore throat from the heat and a stuffy nose and just basically feeling rotten? Mom used to always say: "Get up and get moving and you'll feel fine." I would never believe it at that moment because I was sure I was dying from the flu, but sure enough, I'd get up, get in the shower, and by the time I'm driving to work, I feel mostly fine.
Thanks to Mom's advice, I've made it to work more days than not and now I say it to my kids all the time. I sometimes wonder if Mom hadn't said that to me to many years ago on such a regular basis, if as a working person today, would I just give in to my sore throat, call in sick and go back to sleep? My employer should call my mom and thank her! I have a few employees I'd like to give Mom's number to, too!!"
Lipstick Leadership: Evangelist Willa Short - Doug Wead's Story!
Doug Wead is a presidential historian and New York Times bestselling author. He has been an advisor to two presidents and served on senior staff at the White House of George Herbert Walker Bush.
"My grandmother, Willa Short, was an evangelist, a woman preacher in the Pentecostal Holiness tradition. I am only now beginning to understand what she went through. We have this trunk full of old letters and newspaper clippings. A Birmingham newspaper refers to her as the 'first woman preacher to stand in a pulpit in this city.'
The reality is that her husband walked out on her and she had no other way to support her daughter, my mother. I found a letter from my great-grandmother to Willa Short, describing her daughter's Christmas morning. Wow. Sure helps me understand my mother better. She really lost both parents.
In the Depression, an abandoned woman had to survive, and if that meant storming the male-owned pulpit, well, so be it."
Lipstick Leadership: Setting an Example of Success - Carrie Lauth's Story!
"For many years during my childhood, my mother, in addition to being a full-time stay-at-home mom, was also a leader in Direct Sales. For several years, my family drove a Tupperware van that my mother earned because of her sales and recruiting achievements. Seeing her do something and succeed at something she obviously enjoyed had a real impact on me. I've always had an entrepreneurial streak for as long as I could remember. Now I earn a full-time living on the Internet and am able to raise my 4 children.
Lipstick Leadership: "A Remarkable Woman" - Dawn Prince's Story!
"I always tell people that my mother is the bravest and strongest woman that I know. My mother is a remarkable woman. Ever since I can remember appreciating strength and character, protector and fighter is what comes to mind when I think of my mother. In the West Indies, when most women stayed at home, my mother was a career woman. She has been a nurse since she was 17. I remember her flitting around on that bike of hers in a crispy white nurse outfit with the starched cap that sat high on her woolly hair.
At 28, when I was about six, she left my two brothers and me with my grandmother to start a new life in the United States. At that time, coming from the West Indies, it was unheard of for a single woman to do that. 'Going outside,' as they called it, was a way for my mother to find the means to take care of us. It seems like she has always had a plan for making life better for us: go to the U.S., get a great job and then send for the children. I always tell people what a remarkable woman my mother is. I marvel at the sacrifices my mother made for my sister, my brothers and me.
A few years ago, I found out that my mother used to draw in her younger days, and it saddens me that a hard life took away a means of celebrating her spirit. I marvel at how she stood strong after heartbreaks with love and life and focused on the plan of bringing her kids to a better life. That search for a better life took her from the United States to Canada. A lesser woman would have given up and returned home, but there is something that is fiercely strong and independent about my mother. She refuses to give up. I would see this time and time again over the years: when my father had a debilitating stroke, she took over as his nurse and spent everyday at the hospital while he was in rehabilitation for 3 months - forgiving him for all of his transgressions. From her, I learned commitment and unconditional love.
At 42, when she found that she couldn't support a family on $5.00 an hour, she went back to school to get her Canadian nursing license. When she grew tired of our brief stay in government housing, she moved us to a better neighborhood and eventually into a house. From that I learned about ambition and determination. It must have been hard all of those years, but my mother never let us see that she was worried. Though she struggled to pay the bills, we were never without food. She always used to say, 'I will find a way' and she always did. When we wanted brand name, she firmly said no, and we understood and appreciated what she could give us. From her, I learned to live within my means, as well as gratitude. And despite the financial struggles, my mother's love was constant. There was a lot of love and laughter in our house.
I just wish that I had allowed my mother to love me the way she wanted to. I see it today as she cares for my nephew who lives with her. And I see the love of my childhood - the love I thought I had missed, but it was there all the time. Out of my own inadequacies, I could never fully take it. I think I allowed some of that love in the other day as we said goodbye before I left Canada to return to the United States. My mother was in tears. I squeezed her and said, 'I love you' for the first time in my life. And when she said, 'I love you, too,' - it felt like we'd reached a quiet understanding.
I always tell people that I get my strength, discipline and independence from my mother as I'd seen a lifetime of a woman doing everything for her children and her family and sacrificing herself. These days, she seems to have shrunk--smaller than I remember her. Yet when I think of my mother, I see majestic earth-mother doggedly defining mother-love and absolute strength. I always tell people about my mother, but now it is time for me to tell her how remarkable I think she is."
Next week (July 28th - August 1st) I'll be posting the submission stories here on my blog all day, every day. So make sure you bookmark me and keep coming back to read more!
I guarantee you won't be disappointed - the stories are a mix of the funny and the poignant, and all have important lessons that can be incorporated into our professional and personal lives to empower and inspire us.
The struggle between having a career and raising kids is a battle for the ages. Speaking from experience, I know that when I decided to re-join the workforce when my kids were little, I was in a constant state of guilt. When I was at work, I felt like I was missing vital time with my children. When I was at home, I felt like I wasn't giving it my all at my job - and that's just not my style! There just didn't seem to be an optimal way to fit both pieces into my life back then.
But thankfully today the working world is FINALLY starting to catch on that there are plenty of mommies out there who want to put their skills to work AND have the flexibility to raise their children!
I came across this article on CNN.com, "Moms Find Balance as High-Skilled Temps" by A. Pawlowski, and I said, "Amen!" According to the article, staffing agencies like Mom Corps., On-Ramps, Flexible Executives, Flexible Resources and FlexWork Connection have cued into the fact that the "Mommie Talent Pool" is an amazing untapped resource, and the companies' mission is to "connect career-women-turned-stay-at-home moms with employers."
These agencies are giving moms the opportunity to be successful both in their careers and in their personal lives by providing them with the flexibility they need and deserve. At the same time, they're giving companies a double whammy: highly skilled employees AND women who are enriching the workplace with their unique perspective as mothers. My book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership" is all about that! All of the stories I tell in that book are drilled down to a "simple truth from Mom"; the case studies (real-life business examples) show how that wisdom can be applied. And with staffing agencies like the ones mentioned in this article, even more women will be able to benefit organizations with the gifts of their knowledge.
This is what "Lipstick Leadership Week" is all about: sharing the knowledge. By sharing stories about the incredible women in your life and how they've influenced you (and judging by many of the submissions so far, they've influenced your professional success just as much as your personal success!) we're creating a wisdom network that can help everyone advance their careers - and again I say, "AMEN!"
With "Lipstick Leadership Week" being pushed back to July 28th through August 1st due to an overwhelming response, I have even longer to wait to share the incredible stories I've been receiving! No fair :) This is not a good thing for someone who purposely waits to the very last second to go Christmas shopping because keeping the presents a secret is too much for her!
So I'm going to have to give you another sneak peek before my head explodes! But this is the last one, I swear.
"My Aunt Mary is the most wonderful person I've ever known. If you met her, you'd understand why immediately. Warmth and kindness radiate from her like an aura, and when she smiles (and she always smiles, even through tears) she transfers that warmth on to you. It doesn't matter if you've had the worst day of your life. Just being near her is salve on your psychic wounds. When her husband of nearly 30 years passed away, we gathered around her ready to comfort and guide her through this devastating loss. She ended up being our source of comfort instead.
Growing up, I was always the loner, the black sheep of the family. I was painfully shy, and people - even family members - always seemed to mistake it for being aloof and cold. Not Aunt Mary. She always made the extra effort to draw me out, to sit and chat with me when my cousins excluded me from their play. She was - and still is - forever telling me what a great person I am, and only she can convince me of that.
It's no wonder that she excels at her nursing job. I can't think of anyone more suited to the profession. Every patient of hers is treated like family, and so many have come back to the hospital to give her special thanks for the care she's given them. The health problems she's had in recent years are no match for her quiet strength and perseverance and untouchable positive attitude.
She recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and her children threw her a huge party. When she saw me among the guests, she immediately enveloped me in a bone-crushing hug because she knew how difficult it was for me to be there, and she thanked me several times when I went to leave.
I wish I could say that I am just like Aunt Mary, but I think you have to be born with that kind of beautiful soul. I have adapted the old "WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)" slogan and changed it to "WWAMD (What Would Aunt Mary Do)!" When faced with adversity, I call upon her example and strive to handle it with the grace and strength that I know she would. Thank you, Aunt Mary, for simply being you."
At first I thought, "Good for us. With gas and food prices the way they are, I'm glad we're able to get a little more for less." But when I thought about it further, my heart went out to all of the small businesses out there that are facing empty storefronts as people flock to these discount giants.
What about the small business owners? How can they compete with the "big boys?"
It's a question as old as the first five-and-dime.
At CEOSecretBlueprint.com, I've created a series of free videos that center around revealing the strategy secrets of the "big boys" and I welcome all of you small business owners out there to sign up and check them out for yourself. Remember, I've done my fair share of work with several Fortune 500 companies, and with my birds-eye view into their boardrooms, I've learned a thing or two about a thing or two! As an entrepreneur, I thought it only fair that I should bolster the small businesses around me by sharing those strategies.
So if your business isn't being "stimulated" by the government economic stimulus checks, go to CEOSecretBlueprint.com, check out the videos I've created, and apply the strategies I share to up your game against the business behemoths.
"The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit" - Find out if you have what it takes to start a business, how to name your business (so crucial!) and the pros and cons of partnerships.
"The Entrepreneur's Finance Kit" - *groan* My least favorite part of running a business is the finances, but in this CD set, I try to make it a little easier for you with my tips on hiring a bookkeeper, basic business finance and why it's SO important to the bottom line to write everything down!
"The Entrepreneur's Marketing Kit" - I called on my cadre of experts to share their insights into small business marketing, including Wendy Weiss (the "Queen of Cold Calling"), Michael Port (marketing guru), Andy Wibbels ("Blogging Evangelist"), and Lori O'Brien (Web Solutions, website development expert).
"The Entrepreneur's Office Space Kit" - I can't work in an office that's a disorganized mess or one that stifles my creativity - and you shouldn't either! Learn how to maximize and design your perfect office space with the help of experts Ed Morrow and Natalie Weinstein.
The week of July 14th through July 18th, 2008 is Lipstick Leadership Week at KitchentotheCornerOffice.com! That means we want to hear YOUR stories about how your mother changed your life and made you into a successful career woman.
What lessons did your mother teach you that turned you into a leader? Did a Sunday afternoon of baking turn into an opportunity for responsibility? Did a Thanksgiving meal become a metaphor for organizational structure? Tell your story in writing or request to send an audio or video. To contribute, just submit your story to me here. You can read your submission and others' right here on my blog during Lipstick Leadership Week!
My new book, From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership, chronicles the lessons I've learned from my own amazing mother and other female role models. I'll be sharing those stories - and the stories of women I've interviewed for this book - during Lipstick Leadership Week - and I invite you to join me in this celebration of maternal wonders!
Hi, it's Michelle, and I'm in Dunton Hot Springs, Colorado at an amazing, very rustic resort. Well, it's rustic on the outside, but on the inside, it's stunning.
This place made me think about how quickly we make judgments of our teammates the workplace, how we look at someone and we immediately make an assessment, never taking the time to look a little bit deeper to see all of their talents, intelligence and skills.
As managers, we need to make sure that we're not rushing to decisions when it comes to our team members, whether we're assigning tasks or deciding who to downsize. We need to make sure that we're taking the time to evaluate everything that each of our people have to offer: their skills, their attitudes and their contributions.
In so many ways, people bring different unique elements to the workplace; for instance, some people help with keepu up morale more than they help with the actual work of their projects. That doesn't mean they aren't important!
And so this morning, I'm going to practice reserving my own judgments about our itinerary - I'm going fly-fishing! Can you belive it? - and keep an open mind to the experience. Today, take the time to think about people in your workplace and the talents they have that you may overlook and discover the unique value they bring to your team.
The Key to Personal Growth...New Experiences! Today Meditation with Steve Sadleir
Well, it has taken a little more than 72 hours for me to re-enter!
One of the things that was so special about DuntonHot Springs...in Colorado was that this city-girl got to try lots of new things. I know that I like to continually challenge myself to move out of my box (admittedly I have a pretty big box to start with!). The adrenaline rush of trying something new gives me a charge! So this past week I have quite a laundry list of "new experiences"...fly-fishing, horseback riding, skinny-dipping and meditation!
Have any of you ever meditated? I have never done a formal meditation with a guru...and this week we had Mark Victor Hansen's personal meditation guru with us all week. Helping us novices begin a meditation practice. I was so surprised when I met Steven Sadleir. He looks like a regular, California surfer dude. Here we are in the meeting room where we meditated daily...don't I look centered and peaceful!
His approach to meditation is so simple and authentic that it was easy for me to fall right in. He was kind enough to let us extend an invitation to experience a meditation with him to our friends...we are friends, right? Here is your invitation!
I would like to invite you to Steven's Global Shaktipat Meditation via teleconference (yep! meditation over the phone!) to deepen your connection. (it is not as complicatied as the name suggests!)
Thursday evening, June 19th, 6:00 pm Pacific, 9:00 pm Eastern, for one hour Just dial 1-605-475-8590 then pin 5490316#
I will share more of my first times...in my next post! But for now...think about what YOU have done recently to stretch yourself and what personal growth might be in store for you if you tried something new! Any of you want to share your stretch stories?
Just another quick note because I'm on my way to Colorado. Mark Victor Hansen and his Mega Inner Circle group are convening in Colorado for an immersive conference, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. Mark's Immersives are always chock full of interesting people, amazing insights and inspiration, and more valuable information than I can fill a notebook with! I'll be out of town for a few days, but when I return, I'll be sure to give you the highlights.
Here's hoping the temps in Colorado are far below the near 100 degrees the East Coast is facing today!
To finish up our series on the Presidential candidates and the influence their mothers have had on them, today let's talk about John McCain.
John McCain's mother, Roberta, very different from Obama's and Clinton's mothers. I would characterize her as a "straight-shooter." She seems to be a person who has a very positive spin on everything. She doesn't seem to tolerate any complaining; she's all about accountability and taking responsibility for your actions. A woman after my own heart! Too many of us are more than willing to point fingers, to blame others for our own misfortunes, but neither she nor I will stand for that.
I read an interesting tidbit on this subject. When John McCain wrote about his time as a P.O.W., he chose to use some rather colorful language when describing his captors. Roberta called him out on it and said that he shouldn't use language like that. She pointed out that he chose to be in the military and knew the kind of risks that were associated with it.
Roberta strikes me as being very proper, but rather than from a place of showiness, it seems to come from a place of accountability and doing what's right. She's also very outspoken, and as a Navy wife they moved a lot as well so she's very into exploring new cultures and adventures. Therein lies a bit of similiarity with Obama's mother, though Roberta's interest was from more of an academic place rather than a romantic one.
So there you have, a little perspective on each of the candidates gunning for the Presidency, in respect to the influence their mothers may have had on them. Now it's up to you to decide who gets your vote!
To continue our discussion from a few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to talk a little bit about how Barack Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, influenced him as a person and as a Presidential candidate.
I would categorize Ann as being very, very authentic but also possessing a "reckless" side to her. Because of her zest for new experiences, Barack grew up as a child of the world, living in a variety of places. Ann was married a number of times, I think because she was a bit of a romantic. She seemed to have gotten caught up in the pursuit of her dreams and the ideology of life. As an activist, Ann was always trying to improve situations in the world - and this had a profound impact on Barack as evidenced by his campaign promises thus far.
While his mother went from place to place and romance to romance, Barack has gone a different route. He has created a very strong and stable home life with his family in the Midwest, perhaps providing himself with a feeling of stability that was missing when he grew up. He definitely inherited Ann's passion for taking action, speaking to a crowd to bring everyone together, and making a powerful argument for change.
Ann strikes me as a fearless woman who really wanted to stand for something in her life. If you look at Barack as a man and as a candidate, you can see shades of that in who he is. It seems to me that he isn't looking for a fight; he's looking for change, powerful change. His platform is all about who his mother raised him to be. She provided him with a diverse cultural experience growing up, and that has translated into his understanding of this "melting pot" we have here in the U.S.
Is he Presidential material? I'll leave that up to you to decide.
Next time: the influence of John McCain's mother on his bid for President.
Exciting news, my friends! The long-awaited and highly-acclaimed new info publishing and sharing site YouPublish.com from Mark Victor Hansen (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) is now LIVE!
YouPublish.com is an amazing site where users can publish and download all kinds of files: books, music, videos, software, photos, documents - pretty much any type of file you can think of! Some are free; some have costs associated with them, and ALL are worth a look around the site.
With Mother's Day being celebrated a few short days from now (hint, hint to those who've forgotten!) and all eyes on the primaries and election in November, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to marry the two topics and discuss how the candidates' mothers have influenced who they are and what they bring to the table.
Mom's influence has helped to shape all of us into the people we are, and to get a feel for our Presidential candidates, let's take a look at who their mothers are, starting with Hillary Clinton. Hillary's mother, Dorothy, really taught her daughter to fight back. I remember reading a story about how at the age of four, Hillary was being picked on by some of the neighborhood girls. When she went crying to her mother, Dorothy told her to stand up for herself and that there was no room in their house for cowards. Empowering advice for all of our daughters!
This experience explains a lot about Hillary and the image she often projects in public. She's come out fighting with both gloves swinging and has taken what is traditionally a masculine stance on many of the issues. With all of the adversity and attacks Hillary's faced, the influence of her mother and being taught to be a fighter is very clear in how she's been handling herself.
But is this image of her as a fighter costing her votes among the female population?
Possibly. My personal opinion is that being a fighter is a positive image to be projecting; however, it cannot be at the expense of the unique compassion and softness we as women bring to what we do, whether in the workplace or with our families. To really connect with all the voters, Hillary needs to balance being a strong fighter with being a compassionate woman and mother so that she can relate to both men and women. So far she's had a difficult time reconciling those two sides of her personality.
I find it interesting that when she broke down a bit and cried in New Hampshire, she won by so many more votes than they had predicted. It wasn't sympathy that drove people to vote for her; it was that suddenly she was much more relatable. People who were very familiar with seeing her as a fighter were given a glimpse into this whole other side of her as a person, and they connected with that. Sometimes always being on guard for a fight can alienate people; to truly reach out to people, Hillary needs to temper that with her own natural female instincts and traits.
I've been hearing a lot of people grumbling about Hillary still being in the race and how she should drop out for the good of the Democratic Party so that it can be united come election time. Well, all I have to say to that is: I'd bet good money that if Hillary was a man in the running, those same people would be commending her for sticking with it to the very end and not giving up. I've seen the same type of situation happen in the workplace, the old "double standard", and with such a huge opportunity at stake, I commend Hillary for giving it all she's got to the very end.
In every tragic moment we have an opportunity to learn more about who we are and what we are capable. I have faced a great deal of adversity in my life, and rather than become a victim of it, I chose to face my fears and overcome them. When you're at a point that is vulnerable, you're also at your most authentic. If there is a positive that can come from tragedy, it's the opportunity to meet yourself and recognize the power you have within. The knowledge that I can overcome fear has served me well throughout my life, even when I'm shaking in my boots! What a blessing that awareness has been for me.
When managing a business or a department, you need to be able to adapt your communication style to fit the type of person you're dealing with. Maximum results come from professionals who understand this concept and can adapt their message without compromising who they are or the information they're delivering. This is especially beneficial in an interview setting: understanding how someone best receives information can make or break your ability to get the job, make the sale, motivate the team or meet the department goals.
"If you believe it's just fine...it is! You create your own reality."
The most powerful lesson I learned from my mother Mimi and my Aunt Ruthie is to take responsibility for my reality. Mimi has always been one to look on the bright side of things and approach problems looking for solutions, choosing to see the silver lining and not the dark cloud. Aunt Ruthie faced serious health problems that would've demolished a lesser person, but rather than give into the pain and be defeated, she always saw herself as being just fine. That positive way of thinking created a reality for her that was full of life and happiness.
In life and work things don't always go as planned, but that's no reason to give up or pass the blame onto someone else. If you take responsibility for having a positive attitude and developing a strategic solution to any problem that arises, you'll be amazed at the unbelievable reality you're able to create.
"Leaders emerge from all levels of an organization and can influence everyone from the top to the bottom."
My sister-in-law Pat is a perfect example of this. She is one of twelve children, and growing up, she showed her influence and leadership by taking on additional responsibilities with the raising of her siblings and later with the raising of her own children. Her mother Marty - the "CEO" of the "organization" - relied heavily on Pat - a "front line worker" - and because of that, Pat was able to influence her parents and be a leader. She was never instructed to go tacke care of her brothers and disters, and her leadership was natural. Marty may have had the ultimate decision-making authority, but Pat was given a lot of free rein.
Pat took the lesson that she could be a leader no matter where she was in an organization from her mother's kitchen all the way to her own corner office. Now it's YOUR turn! Be a leader everyday whether you're the CEO or the assistant to the CEO, and create the same kind of positive influence in your workplace that Pat did in her mother's home.
"Don't wait until the eleventh hour to let your ideas shine...don't be afraid to show off your 'diamonds!'"
My grandmother - affectionately known as "Mops" - brought her A-game to everything she did, including becoming a professional golfer in the 1920s. She always let her best shine through - there was no waiting for a "special occasion" where Mops was concerned. She wore her most prized possession - a beautiful diamond ring, one of only two, and the other belonged to Bess Truman - not matter what, whether she was playing golf or growing plants on her balcony or spending the day at the beach. She knew how to commit to life full steam ahead!
At work, your talents, ideas and skills are your diamonds. Many of us hold onto our brilliant ideas for just the right person or just the right time. Do you have amazing ideas that might never get executed? Well, what are you waiting for?? Like Mops, wear YOUR diamonds every single day!
"Make sure your team's energy is pointed in the same direction and working toward the same goals!"
When my sons were wee children, they loved to help me around the house. One day, after watching me spray a window with cleaner and wipe it with a rag, the boys decided they would help clean the rest of the windows. Their cleaner of choice? Spit! My mother Mimi found them spitting on the windows and smearing around the slimy mess! Though their "help" actually resulted in more work for me, I couldn't get mad at those happy, innocent faces. My boys honestly thought they were helping me.
It occurred to me over time that my boys' energy and enthusiasm were a good thing! They wanted to help, God bless their little hears. The only thing missing in these escapades was guidance - which I was responsible for providing. By focusing their energy in a helpful and fun direction, it could maybe mean less work for me instead of more.
Every team needs this kind of guidance. The most energetic team you can assemble will be the least productive if everyone is pulling in a different direction. Take the time to make sure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals. Don't let anyone "spit on the windows!"
For more "simple truths from Mom," check out my new book
The lesson of knowing when to lead and how to follow is an important one. It is not a weakness to follow; it's only a weakness if you have been given the opportunity to lead and you don't step up and take advantage of it. As women, we need to be prepared to lead and to always be looking for leadership opportunities; however, we also need to be able to lead in a way that does not step on someone else's project in the process.
The best example I can give you of knowing when to lead and when to follow is my mother Mimi and my Aunt Marie sharing responsibilities in preparing our Yozzo family holiday meals. Because of our huge extended family, the location of holiday meals alternated between my mother's home and my Aunt Marie's (so no one person had to shoulder the burden of cooking and feeding and cleaning up after the thirty of us!). Both women are strong leaders and took the reins of the meal while cooking in their own kitchens; however, when they were a guest in each other's kitchens, they were more than happy to follow the leadership of the hostess. When cooking at Aunt Marie's, she was the leader and Mimi deferred to her completely; and vice versa when cooking in my mother's kitchen. The result? Year after year of glorious seven-course meals with nary a harsh word, argument or burned dish in sight!
In my family, we were always accepting of both my mother Mimi and my Aunt Marie as leaders, and having faith that your team is going to follow you is crucial to your success as a leader.
Having a job that you find joyful is a blessing beyond belief. Understanding how to find that joy in a challenging work environment is a different story. The ability to blend productivity with a positive environment is a skill that has a large payoff for a manager and a mom. My mother Mimi always taught me that life is a game and no matter how many responsibilities and obstacles we face, we mustn't forget to have a little fun, too! By taking this lesson and applying it in the workplace, I've found that I've been able to challenge my team to work harder but do it in a way that's joyful.
Many times as we are promoted or change jobs, we inherit teams that need some life pumped into them. As a kindergarten teacher, my mother Mimi had this same challenge each year when she welcomed a new crop of students into her classroom. She took her "have fun" approach from home - exhibited by the games she designed for me and my siblings to play - and applied it to her work in the classroom.
I know this playful purpose is as applicable in the business world as it was in my home and in Mimi's classroom. I've seen many corporate activities that have taken a page from Mimi's fun and positive approach produce amazing results in productivity for the workplace.
I have over 20 years of experience as an executive coach specializing in strategic communication. My years as a radio talk-show host have given me additional tools to provide communication coaching to entrepreneurs, as well as executives from Fortune 100 comapnies.
I've been a keynote speaker for corporate events, universities and industry conferences.
I'm a the author of From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership!" (Morgan James Publishing).
I'm a wife, a mother, an artist and an active volunteer in my community.