Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Signs for Life

We immediately noticed a distinctive sign as we drove onto the beautiful Ole Miss campus: Speed Limit 18.  We most frequently encounter 20 MPH signs when it is important to proceed slowly.  This was different, stimulating conversation. Gar knew the significance. It was football great, Archie Manning's  number. My thought was it was a special welcome to entering freshman, many of whom step on campus at age 18, to let them and parents know that all aspects of a student's well-being are taken seriously.

There are many intentional and unintentional signs that give us indications that all is well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Ready

I barely slept thinking of all the things I needed to do and remember before leaving for orientation and finally got up an hour before my alarm rang.  Gar hopped out of bed 10 minutes before we were scheduled to leave for the airport. 

There are a million different ways to get ready for a trip or project.  Appreciating differences is a big part of getting along.


College orientation is a family affair.  Students and parents are each seeking and finding answers to some of their many questions.  Colleges and universities anticipate these needs and construct their programs to address the most common concerns.   We might all learn from this formula and better anticipate and address the concerns of other family members when major changes of level, function, geography, organization, group or status occur. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

What Percent is Birth Season?

My husband, mother, daughter, son and best friend have summer birthdays.  My father and youngest brother were born in spring, and my middle brother and I were born in winter. I've never before thought of the season of one's birth having any influence on behavior, attitude or outlook. However, when I became curious and googled birth season personality, there were over 21 million entries. 

We can slice, dice and categorize our attributes in a zillion different ways. 

Ultimately, all that matters is how we use our skills, abilities, personalities, goals and, relationships.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old and New Friends

This past week was filled with lovely opportunities to visit with cherished long-time friends and meet new ones.  Our dear friends nourish us - we can celebrate special occasions, share successes, commiserate about disappointments, get feedback and offer advice. We can be appreciated for who we are and encouraged to become who we want to be.  Our new friends represent all the possibilities of an unopened present from an awesome gift-giver.  This present will be what we choose to make it.

Special people, not things, keep live purposeful.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Goldilocks Timing

I hosted a luncheon today for three of my friends to celebrate a birthday.  One friend arrived 20 minutes early, another arrived right on time and the final guest arrived 20 minutes late.  I served my early friend a Bloody Mary and told her I'd be back to join her as soon as I put on my lipstick.  When my late friend called to say she was on her way I made her Bloody Mary and had it waiting for her arrival.  Cheers to friends however we get to greet them!

Whether it's a luncheon, business meeting, social event or family meal, flexibly addressing the needs of others creates an environment where relationships can flourish.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Divine Timing

This is the fifth year that Sterling Bank has been recognizing our 50+ hour community volunteers with the chance to designate a $500 grant in their honor to a non-profit organization.  One of our volunteers submitted a grant application for an ineligible organization two weeks ago.  Last week she resubmitted for an eligible organization, with a request to make the award in memory of her son.  I approved the request last Friday, but a printer issue prevented the notification letters to the recipient organization and the honored banker from being submitted until Monday.  The honored banker received her interoffice notification Tuesday, on the second anniversary of her son's death. 

Every day is difficult when grieving.  Significant calendar dates are often more difficult than others.  I was stunned that our timing delays caused notification to arrive on a date that was particularly meaningful to this special banker.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Your Time to Soar

At the June Sterling Bank Women’s Business Initiative Luncheon in San Antonio, I had the chance to present “It’s Your Time to Soar”.   Each attendee was asked to:
·         focus on one business goal and one personal goal
·         write them down, making certain that they are measurable and motivating
·         share them later in the day with a trusted friend who will encourage achievement
·         commit to doing something every day toward achieving the goals
·         celebrate successes

I don’t know who penned the wonderful quote, “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”  It challenges us to identify what is holding us back.  Some things to consider are:
  • Skill
  • Passion
  • Purpose
  • Commitment
  • Action
  • Realistic optimism
  • 360 degree feedback

Steps toward soaring include:
  • Letting go of the status quo and facing fear
  • Holding ourselves accountable
  • Deciding why we are doing what we are doing
  • Making a declaration and acting
  • Doing something bigger than ourselves
  • Celebrating successes
  • Being a life-long learner

Ten important questions to ask ourselves include:
    1. Would you hire yourself?
    2. Whose approval are you seeking?
    3. Are you playing the role of victim?
    4. Are you in the right job?
    5. Are you passionate about what you are doing?
    6. What can you do to make things better?
    7. Are you I identifying problems or creating solutions?
    8. Is your language limiting or liberating?
    9. What does success look like?
    10. Are you measuring results or activity?  Busyness can detract from your business.

To get from idea to ideal we need to:
  • Listen
  • Link (connect)
  • Learn
  • Lift (heavy lifting)
  • Let go of status quo
  • Lead
  • Love (passion)
  • Luck

I concluded by encouraging attendees to value what is, yearn for what can be and act in accord with their desires.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Encouraging High Performers

Those who are driven to excel, don’t always get the encouragement they actually need, because they appear self-sufficient.   Sometimes they need encouragement to take high level of performance to the next level, but don’t get it because others fail to realize that high performers need reinforcement, too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Learning from Unpleasant Experiences

A dear friend and I were discussing some of her young children's recent unpleasant experiences.  One was just part of growing up, another was exposure to animal cruelty, the next was unintentionally sharing personal information with an outsider and the final situation caused insecurity about the child's future.  She was understandably upset and seemed comforted by my suggestion that the incidents might launch discussions about the importance of:

  • Talking about feelings
  • Respecting personal, sensitive information
  • Realizing that families and love are forever
  • Doing the best we can everyday and asking sincerely for forgiveness
  • Acknowledging that we can’t “unsay” hurtful things
We all advance when we learn from our mistakes and those of others.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Joy of Visiting

The altered schedule of summer brings more flexibility to our calendars as school events conclude and business and non-profit organizations attempt to honor the vacation season by planning major events during the other nine months of the year.  I'm reminded of my childhood summers when the joy of visiting was perfected by my grandparents. No one was ruled by the clock.  Relatives of all ages came and went, fluidly joining the camaraderie. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily living, we could all benefit by embracing the simple joys of visiting with those we cherish.  Summer vacations, "staycations", free evenings and weekends provide the opportunity to recharge our batteries and re-energize our relationships.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Great Speaker

I had a unique interaction with an attendee at our June Sterling Bank Women's Business Initiative Luncheon in San Antonio.  A lovely woman and I had a great "getting acquainted visit". This woman had not previously attended our events.  She mentioned that her friend had told her that she'd heard the speaker, and she was great. 

I am rarely speechless, but for several seconds, I weighed the possibilities of her friend's endorsement.  Though a million thoughts entered my mind, I politely told her that I was the speaker. 

This experience reminded me that people arrive for events with varying degrees of interest, engagement, understanding and motivation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Roadmap to Success

Susan Steinbrecher inspired attendees at our June Sterling Bank Women’s Business Initiative Luncheon to create our own individual Roadmaps to Success.  Susan is an internationally acclaimed business woman, executive coach, speaker and author.  She’s the founding CEO of Steinbrecher and Associates, a management consulting firm that has been helping senior executives at an impressive roster of well-known companies since 1992.  Hers is a results focus, partnering with senior executives to develop and implement innovative, life-changing and profit-building solutions.

Susan’s five Success Fundamentals include:
  • Courage to step up, take initiative and act (Failure is often the result of doing nothing.  When we act, even if our plan and execution is not perfect, we have the ability to adjust.)
  • Outstanding communications skills (The ways that we convey information are varied – 7% spoken words; 38% tone of voice; 55% body language.)
  • Finding possibility in adversity (A woman with one leg and no prosthesis finished a 100-mile bike race 1 hour earlier than Susan did.)
  • Excellent planning and implementation skills (“Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps make elusive dreams come true.” Lester R. Bittel)
  • Unwavering belief in the possibility of success

Her experience in training for and completing a 100-mile bike ride through the mountains provided interesting examples of:
  • Discovering and overcoming limiting beliefs
  • Successfully facing fear
  • Creating success though incremental goals and actions
  • Viewing what is possible rather than what isn’t possible

Susan concluded with a 3-part checklist to help us achieve our career goals:
    1. I will stop_________________________________________.
    2. I will start_________________________________________.
    3. I will continue______________________________________.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Luv Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines makes my business travel stress-free.  My routine trips from Houston are to Dallas and San Antonio.  Hobby Airport is 20 minutes from home, with parking immediately adjacent to the single terminal.  And now that I'm an A-List traveler, I can avoid the longer security lines at Hobby and Love Field.  Because of the convenience, I was able to arrive in San Antonio to deliver a luncheon speech and still make it back to Houston, only 15 minutes late, for a 4:00 p.m. committee meeting. 

Happy 40th Anniversary Southwest Airlines!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hot Tea

I'm the only person in my household and birth family who has never enjoyed a cup of coffee. And, I've never liked hot beverages. My morning beverage of choice since college has been a diet soft drink.  I began with Diet Dr. Pepper, migrated to Diet Coke for many, many years and now alternate between the two.  Though my favorite beverages are still ice cold, I've begun to enjoy occasional cups of hot tea in the evening.  It's still a far cry from my family's love of coffee, but I'm finally learning to appreciate their affinity for hot beverages, one cup of tea at a time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do Unto Others

Most of us grew up hearing that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated.  That's a great starting point.  The more we know about the other party, the more we should try to treat them as they want to be treated.  The two standards aren't always the same.  However, when we act with high integrity, attempting to do the right thing, with respect for ourselves and others, we have a great basis for a strong relationship.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Living Life Forward

We would never arrive at our destination if we looked only in the rear view mirror.  So many find themselves in park or going in reverse by viewing only what is behind them.  Only when we use the windshield and side view mirrors do we have a clear view of possibilities and a path forward.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

House Full of Love and Laughter

Julia's home for the weekend!  Having everyone together brings me great joy.  Adding our children's friends to the mix expands the love and laughter.  With the hectic pace of tightly scheduled daily life, it's fun and relaxing to enjoy the moments without concern for the clock.  Relishing the interactions, I get glimpses of the possibilities of "being" rather than always "doing". 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Right Size

I wear a small or medium t-shirt, but I would never think of advertising the size I wear. This week, in the airport, I saw a small man sporting a very tight-fitting t-shirt with an XL label plastered across the front. My immediate thought was that he was trying to appear larger than real life. I don't know if he was wearing an ill-fitting child's XL or an adult t-shirt with an actual size tag that didn't match the shirt's front slogan.   Regardless of our size, we all look best in clothes that are actually the right size.  And when we try to appear larger (or smaller) than we are, we miss the chance to be right sized.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Words Necessary

While waiting in the A31 - 60 boarding group for this morning's flight, the passenger behind me and I connected quizzical glances. After the A1-15 passengers boarded, passenger A16 stayed motionless rather than moving himself and passengers A17-30 forward. We'd never seen a boarding group remain motionless until specifically called by the gate attendant.

This was a vivid reminder that images are enormously powerful in creating common understanding.  Statistics show that only 7% of information is conveyed by the words we speak.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lot of Help From Friends

When the power went off in our building this morning we had to develop a contingency plan to host a special group of guests for a luncheon. After 45 minutes, with no indication of resolution, we had to enlist the help of our next door hotel neighbors and the flexibility of our caterer to create an alternate venue.  Thanks to PDAs, email notification of the change of venue was possible. 

The hotel makes a lot of revenue from food and beverage, so under ordinary circumstances they would never have allowed us to rent a room and bring an outside caterer to produce the event.  And for these same reasons, the caterer had never produced an event at a hotel.   Thankfully, the hotel made an exception to policy and the caterer has had experience in setting up their mobile operations in widely varied venues.  Fire code necessitated setting up the cooking elements outside the hotel for today's luncheon.

All of our expected guests (plus an extra one) arrived, and a great time was had by all.  Fortunately, we had a terrific, long-standing relationship with our hotel neighbor and caterer.  Both parties rose to the occasion to help us create the special event we'd planned.  We all need help from our friends, but we don't always know when.  I believe that it was only because of our positive relationships that we were able to change venues and make the event appear seamless to our guests.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Success Looks Like

We only need to look in the mirror to see what success looks like.  It's not the same for everyone.  When we understand and pursue the things that make us happy and fulfilled, that is success.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Getting Started

The hardest part of some large projects is getting started.  Once we make the initial steps, we often get excited about process or the progress and get the momentum needed for completion. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Once Upon a Time

It's helpful to remember, when dealing with difficult people, that almost everyone was once adorable, fun-loving and teachable. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Can't Unpink Your Eye or Unbreak Your Foot

This week two accomplished friends realized that regardless of desire, preparation and ability, there are some things that are beyond our control.  My colleague with severe pink eye suffered through his discomfort and disability to deliver the results of a special project to our company's executive team.  Another friend and community leader's enthusiastic pet jumped and tripped her, causing broken bones in her foot.  Unwilling to accept a second day of immobility, she had her cast replaced with a walking cast so that she wouldn't miss any of her overflowing array of commitments.

We can't "unpink" an eye or "unbreak" a foot, but with determination and a success mentality we can work around or through unexpected setbacks.

Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty by Harvey Mackay

Hearing and meeting Harvey Mackay at Celebrate!Enterprise was a real treat.  This practical, well-written networking book is easy to read in small segments, as the 83 chapters are contained in 300 pages.  As queen of cliff notes, I love Mackay's Maxim at the end of each chapter.  In addition to expected tips and tools, he provides interesting stories from his fascinating career.  He beautifully illustrates that networking is a lifetime adventure, most enjoyed by those who realize that we have the chance to enrich the lives of everyone we meet, and that the unexpected connections we make can yield huge dividends.  He drives home the point that we need to keep our relationships current, but offers options if we suffer lapses.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Miracle Hair Treatment

I've waited 4 1/2 weeks to write about my life-changing hair treatment, because I wanted to make sure that it lived up to expectations.  My stylist, Shirley, had been promoting a Keratin hair straightening treatment for several months.  I had four hesitations:
  • this won't solve MY frizz problem
  • I don't have time to do this
  • the media coverage about Brazilian treatments containing formaldehyde freaked me out
  • if it doesn't last the expected 6 weeks, the cost is quite high
I can now definitively report that my hair care time has been dramatically reduced and the benefits have exponentially improved.  Houston humidity is fabulous for skin, but prior to my miracle, disastrous for hair.  My daily life tests have included lacrosse games, golf cart tour in 99% humidity and pool-side reading.   Prior to my treatment, each of these fun adventures would have yielded frizzy, uncontrollable hair. 

My only interest in sharing this information is to help other frizzy-haired skeptics improve their quality of life.  I have absolutely no financial interest in this treatment.