Saturday, April 30, 2011

Energy Level

I am blessed with high energy - two speeds:
  • on (going 60+ miles per hour, except in school zones)
  • off (asleep)
It has taken me far too many years to realize that my high energy level is a key differentiator.

We all need to periodically evaluate and embrace our unique characteristics.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Interpersonal Skills Make or Break

Regardless of how self-aware and conscious of others we are, we can easily fall into the trap of tagging interpersonal skills as "if I can do this, so can everyone else".  This logic would never apply to technical skills, yet we are remiss in not actively promoting the crucial importance of superb interpersonal skills as a key differentiating factor for hiring, buying and advancement.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We all have our clues that we're letting our stress get out of control.  Mine is the red light.  I know that it's time to regroup when each red stoplight seems to last for five minutes.  It's easier to manage stress when we recognize our own signals that we need to make adjustments.

Whew!  I feel better already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Awesome Partners Day

Today was officially Administrative Professionals (AP) Day.  In actuality, every day should be a day that we tell our hard-working administrative professionals how much we appreciate them.  I like to consider that today was Awesome Partners (AP) Day.  I have the privilege of working closely with two amazing administrative professionals who partner with me through the exciting and mundane with high energy, positive attitudes and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve success.  That's a real cause for celebration!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leadership Wisdom of Crowds

At a recent Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative Luncheon, I asked attendees to submit their perspectives on leadership.  The fascinating list had few duplicate responses, but two characteristics did receive multiple mentions - listening and leading by example. 

  • Accept the limitations of your staff
  • Attitude – your team follows your mood
  • Authenticity
  • Be consistent
  • Be organized
  • Being open to the possibilities
  • Character
  • Commitment to excellence
  • Committed
  • Communication
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Connected
  • Connectiveness,  inspiring excellence and creativity yield new ideas and new ways to approach challenges
  • Courage
  • Decisive
  • Delegate
  • Direction
  • Empathy
  • Employee engagement
  • Empower your people with clear expectations
  • Faith in God
  • Go beyond self to help with an open mind
  • Guidance
  • Humility
  • In order to lead you have to be willing to follow
  • Integrity
  • Know your limits so you don’t lose credibility
  • Lead by example
  • Lead yourself
  • Learning to be like Jesus, servant leadership, a servant to others’ needs
  • Learning your strengths, recognizing the strengths of those around you and developing ways to use all of those combined in order to provide the best service or product.
  • Listening
  • Love
  • Make every encounter a networking opportunity
  • Mentor
  • Motivating
  • Passion
  • Patience
  • People development
  • Perseverance
  • Readers are leaders! Have you read a great business book lately?
  • Respect
  • See the good in people
  • Selflessness
  • Sense of humor
  • Set goals
  • Sharing knowledge
  • Sharing opportunities to do challenging things
  • Smile
  • Smoothly handling transitions from challenges to solutions in meetings without negativity - keep everyone happy
  • Stay focused
  • Strength
  • Trust
  • Vulnerability
  • Willing to teach
  • Without leadership there is no going forward
  • Working as a team
I'd love to hear your perspectives!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Right Offer

It's simple to accept that an individual or organization doesn't need a particular service because we that's what we were told.  The reality may be far more complex including any of the following 9 reasons:

  • We didn't ask the right person.
  • We didn't understand the problem they were trying to solve.
  • We didn't position our offering in an easily understandable way.
  • The timing wasn't right.
  • The budget wasn't available.
  • This "nice to do" is competing with too many "must do" projects.
  • We didn't make it painless enough to implement.
  • The comfort of the current way of doing things outweighs the risk of the unknown.
  • There is no desire to change.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cost and Value

I love getting a great deal!  With ever increasing competition for our hard-earned dollars, we are constantly bombarded with offers for things we do and do not need or use.  Low cost offers are popular and attention getting.  Astute purchasers know that low cost does not necessarily equate to good value.  Price can be a critical decision factor, but unless we are trying to find the best price for a specific product, we need to consider how closely a given array of product or service offerings meets our other acquisition criteria. 

Ultimately, we need to ensure that the cost we pay delivers the value we expect.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lynne Twist, President of the Soul of Money Institute, was the featured speaker at The Women's Resource of Greater Houston's 20th Annual Luncheon on Thursday.  She shared several interesting perspectives:
  • Labeling diminishes people - She said poor is an inaccurate label for those without financial means, because they must be innovative, creative and courageous.  There are no "haves" and "have nots", people simply possess different resources - inner riches or outer riches.
  • "Affluenza" is a vicious cycle of wealth without meaning.
  • What we appreciate appreciates.
  • If we let go of trying to get more of what we don't need, it frees oceans of energy to pay attention to what we already have.
  • Gratitude has two aspects - gratefulness and thanksgiving.  When we embrace gratitude we experience the great fullness of life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Small Move

I got stuck while working a particularly challenging Sukoku puzzle this week.  There were so many squares remaining with 2 or 3 possible answers.  After reviewing every row, column and section I finally found one more answer.  This small move was all that was required to be able to solve the rest of the puzzle.  In life as in Sudoku, sometimes one small move creates the positive momentum to finish a project. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winning Attitude

Gar's lacrosse team won their first playoff game this evening!  Kinkaid beat a rival that they'd also previously defeated during the regular season.  This victory was on the heels of two serious defeats at the Southwest Preparatory Conference games this past weekend.  What a difference a couple of days makes.  Our team didn't play up to their potential this weekend, nor did they exhibit the winning attitude that they'd adopted through most of the season.  Tonight, in the seniors' last game at home, the team recovered their winning attitude and played as the cohesive team they've become.

In lacrosse and in life, when skill is equivalent, a winning attitude is the secret weapon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

There's Always Something Nice to Say

It's amazing to me, how many people have made my day with a lovely, unexpected comment.  We each walk through the door each day with our own skills, attitudes, issues and experiences.  It doesn't take much effort to make someone's day.  There is almost always something nice to observe about someone we encounter.  When we take the time to make a positive comment, we often make the other person's day.  And the extra benefit, is that their enthusiastic reaction can make our day, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It Is

We attribute labels to everything including these descriptive pairs, and no two lenses are exactly the same:
  • Good/Bad
  • Fair/Unfair
  • Positive/Negative
  • Easy/Hard
  • Fun/Dull
  • Interesting/Boring
  • Valuable/Worthless
  • Anticipating/Dreading
  • Happy/Sad
  • Energetic/Lethargic
Many of our assessments are situational, and thus ever evolving.  Others are wholly influenced by our interests.  Some are determined by how we are feeling about ourselves.  Few labels are 100% accurate without attributing context. 

It is!  Occasionally, it is helpful to to accept a situation as it is, without quickly assigning a judgmental label.  The more important the situation is, the more receptive we need to be to considering viewpoints that may differ from our own. It is easier to consider other inputs before we've become vested in our own assessment of best action.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Successful Group Thinking

Earlier this week, I had the chance to experience great group dynamics in a nonprofit board development meeting.  Five participants were board members and the other three were staff members. 

Some success attributes included:
  • clear, common objective
  • prepared committee chair
  • engaged participants
  • best interest of the organization at the heart of the proceedings
  • candid, confidential discussion
  • collaborative decision-making
  • eagerness to consider every point of view
  • positive acknowledgement of diverse suggestions
By embracing these attributes, this committee demonstrated the best of group dynamics.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Best Furry Friend

Tiger joined our family on Julia's 7th birthday.  My timing logic was that at age 7, Julia would be somewhat responsible for a pet's nurturing, care and feeding.  And, at age 3, Gar wouldn't be too intimidated by a pet, nor a pet too terrorized by a toddler.  Before her feet reached the floor on her 7th birthday, Julia asked when we could get her cat.  Our trip to Special Pals was filled with anticipation, and as is often the case with adoptions, Tiger reached out from his cage to let us know that he'd chosen us.

In Tiger's nearly 16 years as part of our family, he brought much joy, love and laughter.  He earned me the cherished designation as Mommy Cat, because wherever I lit, he was not far behind.  His purr motor was a marvelous indication of continuous love. 

Tiger taught us:
  • go for what you want (we could have chosen another cat)
  • love your family no matter what happens
  • stopping to pet the cat is even better than stopping to smell the roses
  • furry friends are non-judgmental
  • we all need friends to look after our interests
  • patience
  • loyalty
  • tolerance
  • love is forever
Tiger went to the happy petting, eating and sleeping grounds on Monday.  His love for us and ours for him endures.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lacrosse has Multiple Successes

It's exciting that in Gar's senior year of lacrosse competition, the team has achieved a school conference record, winning each conference game and emerging as the #1 team in the south conference.  As we proceed into the conference playoffs (state-wide private school conference) this weekend and city playoffs next week, we have celebrated many individual and team successes and lamented some non-conference losses. 

In addition to the scores, there are multiple additional successes including:

  • this team has embraced each player as a contributor in given situations, regardless of class rank or varsity experience. 
  • informal mentoring has encouraged younger players to embrace the players who will be underclassmen to them in subsequent years
  • the coach has allowed some player coaching - the ultimate way to do what is best for the team, rather than the individual player
  • parents are fully onboard with the players and other parents, with social opportunities for each group to positively engage off the field or stands
There are multiple ways to create community.  And we've loved our opportunity to embrace the lacrosse community.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

There's an Apple in My Parking Space

We do some things almost on auto-pilot - including our morning travel to work.  Sometimes it takes an unexpected occurrence to make us look at our surroundings with fresh eyes.  Two recent parking lot incidents reminded me that when we're hyper-observant, we can find interesting oddities even on our daily treks.  There are only 10 occupied reserved parking spaces in my area of the structured parking garage at work.  A couple of weeks ago, as I pulled into my space, I noticed a beautiful red apple at the front of my space.  With so little traffic in this area, the only logical explanation is that someone from a higher floor dropped it when entering their vehicle.  This misplaced apple stayed in place for several days before a maintenance worker removed it, reminding me daily to look for the unexpected. 

A few days later, a co-worker was helping me load things into my car.  While waiting, she had the chance to survey the parking lot and asked if I knew why the numbered spaces skipped 3.  Since I park in #7, the only other spaces I'd paid attention to were #s 6 and 8.  It's still a mystery why there's no space #3.

These unrelated parking lot incidents reminded me to look for the unexpected and to see what is actually presented rather than assume things are as expected.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women Who Changed the World

I discovered Encyclopedia Britannica's 300 Women Who Changed the World while preparing for a presentation.  It's a fascinating listing that includes mostly those who have positively impacted the world, but also some who are there because of their negative actions.  The highest percentage, 29%, were categorized as leaders.  Writers, at 18%, were the next highest concentration, followed, in descending order by discoverers, visionaries, performers, artists, athletes and scholars. I was initially surprised that there was no business category.   In reviewing the list I found four who I consider business women, but were listed with the following designations:
  • Coco Chanel - artist
  • Martha Stewart - artist, leader
  • Oprah Winfrey - performer
  • Madam C.J. Walker - leader
The highest percentage, 44%, were born since 1901 and over 26% were born before 1801, some centuries earlier. 

Forty-three percent lived in The Americas, nearly 35% in Europe, over 11% in Asia and the Pacific and over 10% in Africa and the Middle East.

Monday, April 11, 2011


One of my youngest friends was just accepted to a pre-K at a wonderful private school that she could attend through 8th grade.  As is the case with many of my friends, this child's parents have deliberated since her birth about her educational options.  During the competitive acceptance process, this bright child was placed on a waiting list and her parents began exploring other options.  They weighed every factor and ultimately found a new home in a neighborhood with many young families and strong public schools.  Decision making becomes more difficult as the importance increases. They've had the chance to weigh all the variables and choose the option that works best for their family. 

There are many instances, such as this, where there is not one right answer.  Having multiple attractive options gives us more control.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being Right the Right Way

A speaker on a recent panel related an instance when the partners at his law firm were considering a bright associate for partnership.  Though bright, this associate had significant interpersonal skills deficits.  Nine of the ten partners voted to work with the associate and discuss the issue again in six months.  The tenth partner dug her heels in and indicated that she was not going to change her mind about the associate's partnership candidacy. Though she was ultimately right about the decision, she and the associate both left the firm.  The way she handled the issue caused her to lose influence and damage the relationship with her colleagues. 

Being right is not enough.  We need to be right the right way.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Expect or Except

What a difference a letter placement can make.  When we expect great results we can clearly anticipate what we are going to do to achieve success.  We find ways to overcome the obstacles that may impede reaching our goal.  When we lower our expectations, we start to make exceptions for time, skill, budget or other factors.  As we make exceptions or excuses, we can lose the impetus to persevere. 

Let's expect success rather than make exceptions that lead to failure.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Time to Seek an Expert

I am privileged to drive a wonderful automobile and have maintained it perfectly.  Recently the car stopped at a stoplight and it took several moments to restart it.  It ran perfectly, with no diagnostic message of a problem, so I assumed all was well and this was just a fluke.  Several days later, it happened again, and the "check engine" warning lit.  It was too late to call my service advisor that evening. When I started the car the next day, the diagnostics were all clear.  Whew!  I didn't really have time to deal with the problem that day.  My trip went well, but soon after I exited the airport parking garage my third incident occurred.  Yes, it was time to seek an expert.  The experts discovered that a sensor had failed and had to be replaced.

We often try to self-diagnose health, relationship or work issues. A significant dose of self diagnostics is laudable, instructive and productive.  But, when we keep getting warning signs that we can't eliminate, it's time to seek an expert.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Staying Engages

I received an article this week with the subject "Staying Engages".  The sender actually intended to promote "Staying Engaged", but the typo made me realize that staying does often engage us.  Whether we are attending a class, surveying a new community, interning, exploring a college or developing a friendship, when we stay active in the process, we often become engaged.  Staying engaged requires us to remember and embrace the reasons we initially became engaged.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Everything Matters

Who we know and who knows us matters.
What we know and how willing we are to share the information matters.
Where we are and where we are going matters.
When we are actively engaged matters.
Why we want to be involved matters.
How we are able to connect matters.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Everything's Connected - Three and Four in a Row

I took the day off yesterday to enjoy the final day of my parents' visit to Houston.  Mama and I took a break from shopping to grab a quick lunch in a very popular, large and crowded cafe.  People were anxiously waiting for tables to open as they placed their orders, so we nabbed the first table available to us.  Surprisingly, in this bustling venue, we were seated next to a table with a school friend and another with a board member friend.

And, on Friday, randomly chosen seating at an advisory board meeting of about 15 people, placed 4 left- handers next to one another.

It's fun to find how everything's connected.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Anyone Can Be an Expert

Malcolm Gladwell asserts that anyone can be an expert IF they invest 10,000 hours in the pursuit.  An ambitious path to expert status would come in 5 years IF the wannabe expert committed to investing 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year for 5 straight years.  In our quest for instant gratification and flexibility, it's easy to see why authentic expertise is to be highly valued.  And it is sobering to realize what it really takes to claim expert status.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Losing 100 Pounds

Those of you who know me know that I don't have a weight issue, so you may be wondering what I know about losing 100 pounds.  In a recent discussion with a new friend about tackling challenges in 2011, she said that she needed to lose 100 pounds.  It struck me that her reason for not addressing it full force, as she does her business opportunities, was the enormity of the challenge.  I've decided that the best way to lose 100 pounds is to focus on losing 10 pounds and celebrate this milestone when it is achieved.  After celebrating, the next goal might be to lose 10 pounds.  We've often heard that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  The best way to tackle an enormous goal is to break it into doable chunks.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Favorite Day of the Week

We often encounter those who profess that "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday" is their favorite day of the week.  There is no right answer to the question.  However, my favorite day of the week is "TODAY".  When we are fully present in the opportunities available to us, our happiness increases.  I know many others whose favorite day is "YESTERDAY".  Unfortunately for them, their day is past.  Others are always waiting for "TOMORROW".  Unfortunately, they miss what is actually happening.

Though we are taught in school that there are only seven days of the week, when we add today, yesterday and tomorrow to the mix, we have ten.  When we choose TODAY as our favorite day, we greatly improve our chance for success.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A World Turned Right-Side Women

It was a delightful experience to participate on Monday in the discussion presented below for Leadership America.  The interactive dialogue highlighted the importance of education, talent, attitude, flexibility, continuous learning and the willingness to embrace change.

“A World Turned Right-Side Up….by Women”
A Panel Conversation With
Colleen Barrett, President Emerita and Corporate Secretary of Southwest Airlines
Cathy Coughlin, Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer, AT&T
Pamela Lovett, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Community Affairs
Sterling Bank, Houston
Facilitated by Gwen G. Cohen