Monday, February 28, 2011

Staying Connected

It's easier to get connected than to stay connected.  There are countless connecting events including:
  • chamber of commerce
  • business associations
  • charity organizations
  • company sponsored
  • neighborhood
  • school
  • alumni
  • religious
  • extended family
Our challenge is to be diligent in maintaining the connections we make.  Social media tools are helpful, but must be supplemented with cards, notes, phone calls, emails and/or face-to-face gatherings. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Purse Was Not Stolen at Church

For a minute, I thought that the unthinkable had occurred - that my purse had been stolen at church.  When we returned to our pew after taking communion, my purse wasn't where I'd left it, nor was it on the floor beneath the pew.   Panic set in as I looked all around for my missing purse.  Another parishioner and I had blindly followed Edgar into the pew in front of ours. Fortunately, when we spotted my purse behind us, we realized that we'd simply assumed the wrong seats.   The irony of Edgar leading us into the wrong pew is that he is ordinarily uncannily spatially aware. 

This was a vivid reminder:
  • things aren't always as they seem
  • every leader can make a wrong turn
  • we can be badly mistaken when we jump hastily to a conclusion without examining the facts

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Signs for Life

Signs for life are all around.  Here are ten to which we can add our own meaning:
  • STOP - appreciate our gifts, talents, experiences and blessings
  • Speed Limit - the speed at which we complete our goals varies
  • Yield - to the happiness that surrounds us
  • Merge - incorporate new skills into our existing ones
  • No Smoking - be healthy
  • Don't Litter - put things where they belong
  • Walk - it's the best exercise 
  • Don't Feed the Bears - keep the beasts at bay
  • School Zone - embrace continuous learning
  • Rest Area - down time is essential

Friday, February 25, 2011

Creating Personal Power

Jacqueline Cornaby was our motivating Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative speaker in Dallas this week.  It's easy to understand why many of Jacqueline's coaching clients have relied on her for years.  She is able to direct our thinking to allow us to understand why we want what we want.  She emphasized that we get what we think about and focus on, whether it is positive or negative. 

Jacqueline's tools for creating personal power include:
  • internal rather than external motivation
  • choice of words - eliminating "try, supposed to, should, must, have to"; and using "intend to, will, get to, yes I can"
  • recognizing and addressing our sophisticated excuses
  • employing an abundant, thankful mindset rather one focused on lack
  • ask four important questions of ourselves - Why do I not yet have something that I want personally or professionally? Why do I want it? What must I do to get it? How will I feel when I have it?
  • accepting that stress is a buzzword for fear and worry is a misuse of our powerful imagination
Jacqueline challenged us to dream big, think positively and establish clarity about our goals.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sometimes It's an Alley that Connects

Yesterday, I had the privilege to kick-off our 11th year of Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative luncheons by hosting our first quarter luncheon in Dallas.  (I'll share highlights from our super presenter soon.)  It's always invigorating to see the connections that are made during these educational/networking luncheon forums.  And the event provided another example of just how connected we are.  One of our loyal attendees was seated with a first-time guest.  They discovered during the lunchtime networking that they were neighbors unmet, connected by the alley in their neighborhood and the Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative.  They've already made lunch plans! Amazingly, as I was visiting with these two exiting guests and a long-time friend who has relocated to Dallas, we discovered that this friend also lives in their neighborhood.

And it was music to my ears as I watched recipricol business relationships develop at my luncheon table.

Whether it's an alley, childhood friend, child, former colleague, classmate, family member or new connection, when we are open to relationships, we realize that everything is connected.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When Stuff Happens

When unexpected and unpleasant stuff happens it's important to stifle the urge to react swiftly and inappropriately. Unless we stifle an initial, inappropriate reaction, we're perpetuating the cycle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Many Hours?

I was once again reminded that what we think we are clearly communicating may not be what another is actually hearing.  A Texan and New Yorker were talking about a planned utility company power outage that would impact a local hotel where I was hosting an event for 300.  The Texan heard that the hotel could be without power for 48 hours and immediately shared the news that our event might be in jeopardy.  The New Yorker had actually said that it would be 4 to 8 hours.  I was quickly able to clarify the time frame with the hotel and reassure my colleagues.  Fortunately, the outage was less than the planned maximun of 8 hours, with no impact to my event.

What if the misunderstanding had been about medical treatment?  Health impact could be severe if a patient or care giver heard instructions to seek medical attention if symptoms worsened in 48 hours, but the doctor had actually said to act quickly in 4 to 8 hours.  

When understanding details is important it is a good practice to repeat what we think we have heard. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fruits of Life

We all know that when life gives us a lemon, we can (should, will) make lemonade. Though the lemon is the most commonly tapped fruit for life lessons, others abound. The cherry reminds us to be thankful that most of life’s pits are small. The pineapple symbolizes hospitality and encourages us that when things don’t seem right, we can still make upside down cake. The kiwi reminds us that we can all use a little (lot of ) marketing help (this delicious fruit was once known as the Chinese gooseberry).  The apple has so many positive connotations - apple a day, apple of my eye, and a technology brand embraced by the rest of my family (I’m as fanatic about Blackberry – another fruit – as they are about Apple) that we often forget the impact of a bad apple. Bananas show us that the good stuff is inside and we only slip when we focus solely on the peel.
And grapes are what we should aspire to be: great at every stage – fruit, fruit of the vine (wine) and raisins.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Power of I Don't Know

I've spent most of my life with the expectation that I should know the answers.  Throughout school we are tested on the new information we learn.  And throughout our careers we are expected to know and share information to serve our customers and colleagues. 

In order to continually expand our knowledge and skills we must be willing to admit that there are things we don't know and would like to learn.  Acknowledging that we don't know something can prompt us to research, study, question and connect with others.  Providing others the chance to share knowledge is often a gift to the giver and receiver.  And when we admit that we don't have the expertise, but are able to make a referral to someone who does, we're building networks.

I love knowing the answer, but have also discovered the power of I don't know.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Your Pen, My Pen, What Then?

Yesterday, a colleague brought me the business card of someone to call. As she was delivering the card, she looked quizzically at the pen I was using.  When she asked about it, we noticed that we both were carrying a clever, novel pen from the organization of the person she was asking me to contact.

I'm continually amazed at how very connected we are, and often in the most unexpected ways.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Making a Statement with Six Letters

I've become fascinated with the vanity license plates I spot in traffic.  Four I've seen recently were pretty clever:
In his flying days my husband had FLY BY. And TARPON is the perfect plate for my avid fisherman son.

What custom plates have captured your attention?

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Multi-Media Families

    I attended a presentation last evening, hosted by DePelchin Children Center's Kezia DePelchin Society, "Texting Instead of Talking?" by one of DePelchin's many talented staff members, Jennipher Cole, MA, LPC.  Jennipher highlighted the importance of appropriately combining multiple modes of communicating.

    She shared 6 important tips:
    • Set the standard - Model for your children what it means to use technology responsibly.
    • Establish "no-tech" times - There is no substitute for interpersonal dialogue.
    • Use texting for appropriate communications - It is not the tool for serious, formal conversations.
    • Emphasize technology's unforgiving nature - Stress the ease with which information can be forwarded to unintended recipients.
    • Monitor online, talk offline - If you see something online that worries you, calmly address the issue face-to-face.
    • Friend moderately - Never post anything on a site like Facebook that might embarrass your child.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    I Don't Know

    It was fun to hear at an event this week about the confusing texting interchange between a mother and her son:

    Mom: What time is the game?
    Son: IDK
    Mom: What is IDK?
    Son: I Don't Know
    Mom: What do you mean, you don't know?
    Son: It means I don't know
    Mom: How can you not know, you just texted me IDK?
    Son: IDK means I Don't Know

    This is another example that illustrates how easily our communications can go awry even when we think we're being perfectly clear. 

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011


    When we know and respect a messenger, we tend to attribute good motives to her or him.  We are receptive to the messages because we expect that they will communicate in a way that is mutually beneficial rather than merely advocating for their cause.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Valentine's Day Launch for Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative on Facebook

    I love great timing.  Though we'd expected to launch our Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative Facebook page in January, our merger announcement postponed these plans. Our Valentine's Day launch may be even better since Valentine's Day is about expressing love and friendship.

    We're in our 11th year of providing educational forums for female executives and business owners in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.  The business connections and friendships that have developed have been exceptional.  The LinkedIn Group has given attendees additional chances to connect.

    We like this group so much that we're continually trying to find additional ways to add value. A Facebook page was the next logical tool.  Since the Facebook connect tool is the "Like" button, Valentine's Day seems to be the perfect day to extend WBI friendships.  I'm transported back to grade school when I couldn't wait to see how many Valentine's I'd receive.  Today, I'm hoping you'll fill that virtual Valentine's box with Facebook "Likes".

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    High Impact Introductions

    We rarely know the impact of introductions we make. My daughter, Julia, made two special introductions, one intentional and one by chance, that have tremendous benefits that can be tracked. Julia's fabulous gift of a Kiva gift card introduced me to this remarkable micro-lending site.  My original two loans have grown to a total of seventeen.  I've also made contributions toward Kiva's operations.  And I'm thrilled to report that all of my entrepreneurs have repaid or are repaying as agreed.

    The second introduction was to  Julia and I went to see "Waiting for Superman".  A $15 DonorsChoose gift card that was distributed to all viewers prompted me to investigate.  After using the gift card to benefit a Houston classroom, 28 classrooms in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio became the beneficiaries of Sterling Bank's Thanksgiving Grants.

    I've shared information on these projects in the following previous posts:

    Funding Classroom Projects
    Incredible Fun and Impact for $25
    Gifts that Keep on Giving 
    Making a Difference in Classrooms 

    As these two examples illustrate, it doesn't take a lot of money or a detailed plan to make high impact introductions.  When we act with good intentions and natural curiosity, we can create high impact introductions.  In addition to loans and donations, our introductions can lead to friendships, jobs, contracts, recognition and awards. 

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    The Dog Ate My Homework

    Board members for one board I'm on receive weekly updates from the top executive of the organization.  Recently, we received a note from another staff member that the communication would be delayed because the executive had been bitten by a dog.    My first instinct was to assume that it was a bit of humor to explain the delay.  Another board member had the same reaction.  Unfortunately, he really did get a nasty bite. 

    The communication made me realize that when we are in the position of explaining an unexpected situation or apologizing, we must ensure that our words are received as intended.   Otherwise our words may be about as believable as telling the teacher that the dog ate my homework.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

    Matt Ridley has written an insightful book, The Rational Optimist - How Prosperity Evolves. It seems that I'm in the minority as only 20% of people have a genetic tendency toward optimism.   The author gives statistical reasons to believe in a brighter future.

    This generation has access to more calories, watts, lumen-hours, square feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, nanometers, bushels per acre, miles per gallon and dollars than any previous generation.

    All the dire predictions of debilitating shortages and unchecked disease are based upon extrapolations of life without innovation.  But according to Matt, "Embracing dynamism means opening your mind to the possibility of posterity making a better world than preventing a worse one".

    He promotes the concept that ideas and innovation are limitless. And I love his premise that is the basis of my blog (Everything's Connected) that the secret of the modern world's progress is interconnectedness.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Limiting Life's Litter

    Life is littered with good intentions. Others benefit only when we act.  Litter isn't good for anyone.  When we act on our great intentions, we do our part to eliminate life's litter.  And as with all other acts to benefit others, there are multiple beneficiaries.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown

    The authors clearly contrast effective leaders, Multipliers, with ineffective leaders, Diminishers.  On average, Multipliers get twice the capability from those they lead.  The five practices that distinguish Multipliers are:
    • Attract and optimize talent throughout the organization.
    • Remove fear and require best thinking.
    • Extend challenges and create the belief that success will result.
    • Arrive at sound decisions through rigorous debate.
    • Provide resources and expect ownership and accountability.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Everyone Matters

    Last year, I took an unplanned sabbatical from church.  It probably began as an out of town trip.  This was followed by a decision to not get up and dressed the next Sunday.  Several weeks passed without attending church.  I was still praying every day and sending our monthly pledge, so I assumed no one noticed.  A hand-written note from our rector arrived saying that he missed us.  What an effective way to get me back where I need to be.

    Regardless of how many people are part of a group or organization, when we are expected to be present, our absence is felt.   Sometimes, the only encouragement needed to engage or re-engage an individual is a personal communication from someone who is actively involved letting the person who's not participating fully know that his or her contributions are valued.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Volunteer Board Members

    There are countless ways to volunteer and each has the opportunity to impact the life of the volunteer and those he or she serves.  I was asked recently how to become a board member of a volunteer organization since I am very active in the community.  There are many paths to board service including:

    • establishing a stellar reputation with an organization as a committed volunteer
    • providing a skill that is absent or under-represented on the board
    • being nominated by a friend or colleague who knows what you can contribute
    • responding to a solicitation for new board members
    • making your specific interest known to current board members or staff
    • achieving highly positive company, community and/or association visibility
    • serving as a company or organization designated representative
     Board members are expected to bring 4 Ts to a non-profit:
    • Time
    • Talent
    • Treasure
    • Touch
    The first 3 Ts are self-explanatory. Touch includes sharing the organization's mission and needs with your network.  It involves being an ambassador for the organization.

    Those with a sincere interest in making an impact are far superior board members than those who are viewed as resume builders.  And, it would be rare for an organization to tap a board member who has not already been active in the community.  As with most other opportunities, a broad, diverse network helps connect the willing and able to the organizations that have expressed needs.

    Board representation is gratifying work when you are engaged with an organization with a mission that matches your passion.  Without passion, it becomes just another task on a to-do list.  

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Doing What's Expected

    At the heart of much frustration in the workplace and in personal relationships are the different interpretations of "doing what's expected".  Acting legally and ethically is generally spelled out clearly in a company handbook.  Beyond that base expectation, execution is quite varied.  Some of us we want to provide the best possible outcome; others do the minimum that will suffice.  

    Some examples of differing expectations include:
    • Presence - Being physically present is not the same as being fully present
    • End of day - To a 40+ year old worker it means by close of business, but to a younger worker it may mean 11:59 p.m.
    Only when we accept that we're using our own filter to assess what is expected can we move toward better, more explicit communication of what is actually expected.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Perpetual Flowers

    I have a Herend rose, Waterford daisy and Lalique daffodil beside my home computer keyboard.  They are beautiful and inspirational even without their special meaning.  Their beauty is enhanced because I love each of the givers.  Live flowers bring great temporary joy and perpetual flowers bring great continuing joy.  We all have the opportunity to share various blooms - words, cards, cut flowers from our yards, grocery or florist and art work or works of art.

    May we all appreciate the beauty and inspiration perpetually blooming all around us.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Age Is Just a Number

    Children can't wait to get older.  Old people wish they could reclaim their youth.  The reality is that age is just a number that we can't change.  What we can change is our attitude about our age.  When we accept the fact that age brings experience, wisdom, memories and perspective, we can more easily embrace our birth certificate as documentation of the beginning of our journey. And it provides proof that we're old enough to enter school, get a driver's license, vote, drink or claim social security benefits.

    I vividly remember the first time I lost track of my age.  During a law school class someone asked how old I was.  I didn't realize until well into the class that I'd overstated my age.  Until that point my formal education had always consisted of similarly aged students with an easy barometer for how old we were.  My law school class had students from age 22 to 62.   I'm grateful that I learned years ago that age is just a number.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    What a Difference a Day Makes

    On Monday, my trek to work took the expected 12 minutes.  For no apparent reason, it took 50 minutes to travel the same distance on the way home that evening.  It always takes a few minutes longer to get home at night, but generally only about 16 or 17 minutes.  I realize that many folks have a normal commute of 50 minutes or more and that I'm most fortunate to have such a normally short time in transit.  Regardless of the length of our commute, when the time triples, it's not good. 

    Thankfully the trip home on Tuesday was back to normal at 16 minutes.  My commute anomaly is a reminder that when things go awry, it may be only a temporary glitch, and a new day will restore normalcy.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Volunteering Triples Impact

    My world has been positively impacted by the power of voluntarism from childhood.  My precious Mama was the perpetual room mother for at least one child each year, helping countless teachers expand their impact and benefiting innumerable classmates.  She was ever present for the many opportunities that our church needed and provided.  She met numerous needs in her active leadership roles with Junior Auxiliary.  And her remarkable impact continues through P.E.O.

    Not everyone is so fortunate to have a volunteer role model.  I am most grateful that I've always known that one of our responsibilities is to assist others.

    Volunteering is good for our conscience, community and career.  First and second, we know that we feel good when we help others. But, one of the additional benefits of volunteering is career enhancing.  Volunteering:
    •  makes a difference in the lives of others
    • distinguishes those who serve others
    • has the potential to hone new skills
    • provides leadership development opportunities
    • expands networks

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Making 2011 Great - Recapped by a Friend and Colleague

    I loved getting to present "Making 2011 Great" to our Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative last week, and was delighted to have my friend and colleague, Christine Pechayco, provide her assessment of my presentation: 

    On January 20, 2011 Sterling Bank WBI luncheon attendees were treated to another terrific presentation.  This time, Sterling’s own Pamela Lovett, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Community Affairs took the stage to share her thoughts on “Making 2011 Great.”
    Pam shared with the audience some practical and wonderful tips for enriching personal and professional relationships, ways to be more productive, and achieving personal best. 
    Developing good personal habits contribute to this end.  She encouraged the audience to seek ways to celebrate various achievements, be they one’s own large undertakings and small victories, or those of others. Pam shared her ideas on ways to be productive while waiting – catching up on reading, analyzing to-do lists, or making a new acquaintances are only some. She pointed out the value of being on time for appointments as a sign of respect for others. Starting and ending the day with a clean slate by forgiving yourself and others was another.
    As one who writes about leadership, fellowship, and some of her adventures with her family through the blog Everything’s Connected, Pam has an appreciation for finding creative outlets, and encouraged others to create as well. Whether cooking a favorite recipe, completing a jewelry project, or writing, the result is the gained sense of satisfaction at the end.
    Approach work with gusto and enthusiasm was another piece of advice shared by Pam, and to do so by keeping skills refreshed, through continuous learning, honing one’s communication skills, and anticipating.  Continuous learning keeps one interesting, interested, engaged and employable, according to Pam. Books, book summaries, blogs, on-line courses, and continuing education courses are all valuable means of enriching knowledge. Communicating is a two to one ratio, according to Pam.  Our two ears and one mouth underline the importance of listening before we speak, she said.  Anticipating is another important skill not to ignore, but cautioned the audience to appreciate the experience in the process. 
    Attitude contributes to productivity.  Pam advised the group to shed procrastination tendencies and to act decisively, to appreciate and learn to live with the things we have, and evaluate goals.  “Be certain that what you think you want is what you really want and not what you think you should want, or what others want for you,” said Pam.
    Being realistic with our self expectations is another important factor to having a successful year.  Pam said, “Give up perfectionism. Excellent is good enough,” admittedly suggesting an all-too-familiar notion.
    “Best is best,” said Pam.  “My marathon may be your walk in the park.”
    Lastly, she advised WBI members to cast aside unrealistic ideas of superwoman capabilities. 
    Pam’s practical and timeless ideas are encapsulated in a rhyme she penned, Things I “Ate” That Make Life Great.
    Look for things to celebrate
    Be productive while you wait
    Respect others – don’t be late
    Every day clean your slate
    Make something special you create
    Be of value – earn your rate
    Keep on learning – educate
    Improve relations – communicate
    Look forward – anticipate
    Be decisive, don’t hesitate
    Count your blessings – appreciate
    Know yourself – evaluate
    Best is best – calibrate
    Fold your cape and liberate